From Abracadabra to Zombies
Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science Exposed!
by Robert Todd Carroll
Published by the James Randi Educational Foundation 2011
About the Book
Unnatural Acts is for people who want to improve their thinking, become more accurate in their beliefs and more reasonable in their actions, and who are tired of being fooled by others.
The book is about natural and unnatural thinking, and how the way we think affects everything we do. Natural thinking is instinctive, intuitive, quick and dirty. It works pretty well most of the time, but it can get us into trouble. We can deceive ourselves into believing what’s not true or even what goes against our own self-interest, if we’re not careful. And manipulators who understand natural thinking can use that understanding to hoodwink us into believing what isn’t true or doing what they want us to do. You can reduce the chances of being duped by learning how to think in unnatural ways. I hope this book helps you do that.
On the other hand, if you think you already know everything you need to know and are absolutely certain that what you know is true, you may still find this book helpful, especially if you make your living tricking others into believing what you want them to believe.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Believing in the Palpably Not True Many of us spend much of our lives passionately defending the palpably not true. Why? Read this chapter online free.
Chapter Two: How to Lose Friends and Alienate Your Neighbors In this chapter you’ll find out why you will be disliked, perhaps even hated, for critical thinking.
Chapter Three: Believing is Seeing (Trust No One, Not Even Yourself—Especially If You Find Meaning in a Dirty Diaper) This chapter reviews some of the most difficult obstacles the critical thinker has to overcome..
Chapter Four: Extraordinary Renditions and Graphic Illusions in a Vaguely Familiar Universe Find out what Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, and Idi Amin have in common.
Chapter Five: Driving an Edsel to the Bay of Pigs Find out how disastrous decisions are made by the leaders of the pack.
Chapter Six: Reliable Sources of Confusion, Collusion, and Spam This chapter provides some guidance for finding that elusive reliable source.
Chapter Seven: Seductive Stories and Varieties of Scientific Experience What should we do when personal experience and scientific studies seem to contradict one another?
Chapter Eight: The Fallacy-Driven Life This chapter describes several kinds of fallacies and offers advice on how to avoid them.
Chapter Nine: Are We Doomed to Die with Our Biases On? Read this chapter to find out the answer.
Chapter Ten: 59+ Ways to Develop Your Unnatural Talents in Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science There's hope if you understand the items on this list from the ad hoc hypothesis to wishful thinking. For more help, see the Unnatural Acts blog.
Appendix A: Cell phones, Radiation, and Cancer
Appendix B: UFOs and Interstellar Space Travel
Appendix C: Acupuncture, CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine), and Faith
Appendix D: Critical Thinking
Appendix E: How to Create Your Own Pseudoscience