13 Reasons to Doubt

Reasons to DoubtThe long-awaited (yes, it’s been in the works for some time) anthology from bloggers at the Skeptic Ink Network, 13 Reasons to Doubt, has finally appeared. It is published by Onus Books and is currently available in a Kindle edition, though other formats will also be appearing.

13 Reasons to Doubt is described in this way by its back-cover blurb:

Extraordinary claims and extraordinary evidence.

The mainstream and social media feed our minds a diet of fringe science and outright pseudoscience. They relentlessly stream paranormal, supernatural, and otherwise extraordinary claims. Where do all these come from? They’re spread by shysters and charlatans, by corporate propagandists with cynical eyes on the bottom line, by priests and preachers of all kinds, by axe-grinding cranks and ideologues, and frequently by well-meaning dupes.

This may be a scientific age, but all too often, science, well-grounded scholarship, evidence, and logic are ignored—or even denied.

Scientific skepticism offers a corrective: skeptics defend science and reason, while demanding the evidence for extraordinary claims.

In this volume, we offer you thirteen ways to scientific skepticism: thirteen reasons to doubt extraordinary claims. The authors discuss groupthink and cognitive biases, science denialism, weird archeology, claims about religion and free will, and many other topics. Within these pages, there is something for anyone who wants to avoid biases and fallacies, cut through the masses of misinformation, and push back against fakers and propagandists.

13 Reasons to Doubt includes my chapter entitled “Skepticism in an Age of Ideology” – this is an original piece, especially written for the book, although it draws on my talk at last year’s TAM (the Amazing Meeting) among other things.

The following is a complete table of contents:

INTRODUCTION

A BRIEF HISTORY OF DOUBT: GREAT SKEPTICS FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE RENAISSANCE
Peter Ferguson

SKEPTICISM IN AN AGE OF IDEOLOGY
Russell Blackford

ARE YOU A SKEPTIC?
Maria Maltseva

WHY YOU CAN’T TRUST YOUR BRAIN
Caleb W. Lack

BEING SUSPICIOUS OF OURSELVES: GROUPTHINK’S THREAT TO SKEPTICISM
Jacques Rousseau

SCIENCE: A MECHANISM FOR DOUBTING; A SOURCE OF RELIABILITY
Keven McCarthy

SCIENCE IS PREDICATED ON THE NON-MAGICAL NATURAL WORLD ORDER
John W. Loftus

THE POWER OF HUME’S ON MIRACLES
Zachary Sloss

ON DOUBTING THE EXISTENCE OF FREE WILL, AND HOW IT CAN MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
Jonathan M.S. Pearce

PSEUDOARCHAEOLOGY: SEVEN TIPS
Rebecca Bradley

THE NEW WORLD ORDER IS COMING FOR YOU!
Staks Rosch

WHY BELIEFS MATTER
David Osorio

SCIENCE DENIALISM AT A SKEPTIC CONFERENCE: A CAUTIONARY TALE
Edward K Clint

APPENDIX: SCIENCE DENIALISM AT A SKEPTIC CONFERENCE

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHIES

I haven’t yet read the entire book, but I’ve certainly read most of it (and even pitched in to help with the copyediting!). I can say that there is much strong material here, not least in Caleb Lack’s superb piece on why you can’t trust your brain (alas, your brain comes complete with all sorts of cognitive biases).

Please consider!

[Pssst... My Amazon author page]

  1. My bet is all of those authors are materialists. And materialism should be doubted as it boils down to sheer dumb luck/ innumerable improbable coincidences.

    As for doubting free will, well that is just dumb.

  2. Brendan Funnell

    Are they ever Skeptical of Skepticism? The ancient cult of Skeptics opposed science and reason (see Against the Physicists and Against the Logicians by Sextus Empiricus) and favoured cultural constructivism. Being Skeptical of Science is something few modern Skeptics consider.

    Logic, Reason and science were born in opposition to Sophistry and Skepticism. Aristotle delt with en passant in The Metaphysics book Delta before “inventing” the concept of Energy, potential and kinetic, that Science has been studying ever since.

  3. Brendan, the book is really about what is known as “scientific skepticism”, not about any form of radical philosophical skepticism. My own contribution (“Skepticism in an Age of Ideology”), though, does briefly discuss the difference, with some mention of ancient Pyrrhonism as what I am not trying to justify.

    I argue for a rather limited form of skepticism, though still one that would have significant impacts on people’s lives.

  4. Believing in stuff, especially stuff that makes you feel better – is a thousand times easier than doing the really hard work of rational scientific criticism of theories tested against real world measured facts.

    Ultimately belief is ersatz knowledge. If you are lucky it wont kill you before breeding age. If it does, Darwin rules, OK?

  5. I just looked again and my draw dropped open.

    How to promote quackery.

    1/. Define a new ‘science’

    2/. Get lots of people on board

    3/. Dismiss all criticism as ‘science denialism’..

    4/. Simples!

    By the way it has been scientifically proven that I am cleverer and righter than you are, so any criticism can be forestalled by stating that if anyone dares, they will be in denial of science. Which is two sigma worse than being a witch.

    S :shock: o there!

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