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Michael Shermer in Illinois & Wisconsin
April 12–15, 2011

Dr. Michael Shermer

IN THIS AGE OF SUPPOSED SCIENTIFIC ENLIGHTENMENT, many people still believe in mind reading, past-life regression theory, New Age hokum, and alien abduction. A no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, Why People Believe Weird Things debunks these nonsensical claims and explores the very human reasons people find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing.

Synthesizing thirty years of research, Michael Shermer upends traditional thinking about how humans form beliefs about the world. Simply put, beliefs come first, and explanations for beliefs follow. The brain, Shermer argues, is a belief engine. Using sensory data that flow in through the senses, the brain naturally looks for and finds patterns—and then infuses those patterns with meaning, forming beliefs. Once beliefs are formed, our brains subconsciously seek out confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, accelerating the process of reinforcing them—and round and round the process goes in a positive feedback loop. Shermer provides countless real-world examples of how this process operates, from politics, economics, and religion to conspiracy theories, the supernatural, and the paranormal. And ultimately, he demonstrates why science is the best tool ever devised to determine whether or not our beliefs match reality.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday April 12 at 7pm (Urbana, Illinois)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Material Science & Engineering Building, Room 100 at 7pm
Contact Sarah Connor at sconnor13@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday April 13 at 6:30pm (Manitowoc, Wisconsin)

University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc, 705 Viebahn St., Manitowoc, WI
University Theatre at 6:30pm. Admission: $5, students free
Contact Caroline Driscoll Geary at caroline.geary@uwc.edu

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday April 14 at 12pm (Fox Valley, Wisconsin)

University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, 1478 Midway Rd., Menasha, WI
Student Union at 12pm
Contact Jeff Kuepper, Director Student Activities at jkuepper@uwc.edu

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday April 14 at 7pm (Sheboygan, Wisconsin)

University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, 1 University Dr., Sheboygan, WI
Wombat Room at 7pm
Contact Valerie Murrenus Pilmaier at valerie.pilmaier@uwc.edu

Thursday, April 15, 2011

Friday April 15 at 7:30pm (Rock County, Wisconsin)

University of Wisconsin-Rock County, 2909 Kellogg Ave., Janesville, WI
Kirk Denmark Theatre, Wells Cultural Center at 7:30pm
Contact David McKay at david.mckay@uwc.edu

Why People Believe Weird Things (cover)

Order the book from skeptic.com. A book signing will follow all lectures.

5 Comments »

5 Comments

  1. Caio Iglesias says:

    Pretty awesome that you now have this available on kindle!

  2. Nate Krueger says:

    Why no love for Green Bay?

  3. Jeremy Fejfar says:

    How did this get planned? I have a freethought group and secular student group in La Crosse, and we’d love to host you here sometime. If you plan another trip in WI, please drop me a line. Thanks!.

    Jeremy Fejfar

  4. Anthony says:

    When do we get to examine Michael Shermer’s irrational Libertarian economic beliefs that have no basis in reality? I love the opinion piece that the Great Recession had nothing to do with deregulation in spite of the obvious repeal of Glass-Steagall. Perhaps Michael Shermer can explain why he sticks to his irrational beliefs, even though they are not even taught in undergrad economics classes.

  5. Old Muley says:

    Too bad Titletown isn’t on the list o’ places. We need some skepticism up here too.

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