Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole
Interesting in a textbook sort of way.
Law’s interests lie in ‘intellectual black holes,’ those systems of belief which defy reason and thwart discourse that challenges those beliefs; his goal with this book is to, “help immunize readers against…some key tricks of the trade by which such self-sealing bubbles of belief are made.” All well and good, however, Beyond Belief will, at times, sound more like a diatribe against some of those beliefs (especially religion) and less like the rhetoric/logic...more
"Believing BS" is an informative book that identifies eight key mechanisms that can lead ideas into an intellectual abyss. Philosopher, educator and accomplished author, Stephen Law provides an interesting book that will help immunize readers against the follies of poor thinking. It's an expose of popular rhetorical tricks used to defend BS belief system. The author provides many practical examples and shows us qui ...more
He outlines eight strategies. I am using one of these strategies, which I parap ...more
The writing is meandering and repetitive. The whole thing could be summed up in 20 pages instead of 200. It was an easy read, but it also wasn't very interesting. The author started by ...more
Another problem is that the author relies too heavily on shooting down religious ideas, such as Creationism. I am actually an atheist myself, but I felt that he could have easily found more examples in other areas to convey his points, ...more
If you are religious - the probably is not for you though, because it is mainly dismantling religious beliefs. Thus the negative reviews - people have to distinguish between anecdotal evidence and analogies used by the author in order to simplify its contents.
The simplicity of the book can be applied to any bullshit ideas - astrology, ideas spread by public figure ...more
I found the book pretty fun and educational. I liked the writing style with its subtle and not-so-subtle use of sarcasm and occasional tutorials as how you two can become the next "guru". The conclusion chapter is definitely the best one of the book, and could have done with greater expansi ...more
Whereas I found that using a parallel argument for an evil god (mimicking the stereotypical argument for a good god) to be thought provoking, I found the parallel rewriting of C.S. Lewis' _Screwtape Letters_ to be just a little embarrassing.
The author claims to have an open mind on most things but not on poorly constructed arguments built on anecdotes...which it backs up with anecdotes.
The first two chapters were intellectually complex with philosophical and logical reasoning. This was a partial turn off, but I found it very interesting for this and ...more
Law attempts to speak to an audience unversed in philosophy or critical thinking methods, he just comes across as pedestrian, pedantic, and authoritarian in its argume ...more
What is it an intellectual black hole? Which are the usual techniques to lure you into one?
One by one Stephen Law dissects each tool of the snake oil sales people of emotions and woo: priests, gurus and all of the same sort. With clear definitions and examples the author explains what you have to look around and listen when the alarms sound off: you are approaching an intellectual black hole. From religion to homeopathy , and from ne ...more
The tactics employed in orde ...more
Mechanisms are: "playing the mystery card", "but it fits", "going nuclear", "moving the semantic goalposts", "I just know", "pseudoprofundity", piling up the anecdotes" and "pressing your buttons".
Understanding these mechanisms helps to immunize you against intellectual snake oil.
It is a book of philosophy for D-- ... beginners. Some might consider it condescending and in some places it could be considered such. But philosophical arguments tend to be very abstract and logic laden. The language tends to be difficult at times and Law clearly tries to make some of the essential arguments more accessible. I think he gets the right ton ...more