Video – Why do people believe in weird things?
What does Michael Shermer mean when he claims that science is a verb?
He means that science is not an object/a thing that physically exists, it is an abstract concept or activity in which you would use scientific laws/theories to prove that certain phenomena is true. It is also commonly seen as an area of knowledge, which also makes the quote “science is a verb” become logical because an “area of knowledge” is philosophical and we often use this idea to conduct further experiments and establish in depth knowledge.
What reasons does Shermer give for our tendency to believe unlikely claims?
Shermer stated that the main reasons of why people believe in weird things is because of the appearance of miracles and illusions. This means that unlikely claims might not be actually true, because the proof that you have might not be consistent, it might just have happened in a sudden or it may be perceived wrong. However, there is still a possibility that the certain weird claim is true because miracles may have taken place and made the claim true, which cannot be explained scientifically. For example, Shermer gave an example about auditory illusions, about a film that features a dead man talking. This shows the violation of the theory that dead would not be able to talk and it will be extremely difficult to find evidence to prove the point.
What two advantages did Christiaan Huygens have over Galileo in trying to understand observations of the ring of Saturn?
Christiaan Huygens had a good theory of planetary rings and how solar system operated. Better telescopic was also available at the time during his exploration, which allows better quality images and data and eventually leads to a reasonable conclusion.
According to Shermer, what mistakes do pseudosciences such as astrology or parapsychology make that prevent them from gaining knowledge?
Knowledge within pseudosciences are usually not as reliable as natural sciences due to the bias that most people develop according to what they believe. This is because there is no scientific proof to those areas of knowledge, resulting in different opinions, meaning that some statements do not make sense to some people. For example, we always use our intuition to judge something vague without making a rationale, it is just that we believe in it and there is no way that we could explain. This makes it harder for us to gain knowledge because we do not actually understand the logical reasons behind it, in fact, we are persuading ourselves to think in the way that we intuitively think is right.
Furthermore, Christiaan mentioned that people tend to remember the hits and forgot the the misses, however, science subjects are based on concrete evidence and observations. Pseudoscience does not have a balance between data and theory, which makes it difficult for others to understand because it is often illogical. Therefore, this prevents people from gaining sufficient knowledge in pseudosciences such as astrology because there is no solid evidence to base on.