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Michael Shermer Has Moved on to Psychology

The January edition of Scientific American magazine includes a new column by Michael Shermer. In it he gives his theory on how conspiracy theorists delude themselves and how to effectively respond to them. It makes for interesting reading. The comments are also fun.

www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-minds-compartments-create-conflicting-beliefs

Examples from the comments

7. Andy Swamp 07:43 PM 12/27/12

This article would be interesting except for two things, the beginning and the end. In the first paragraph Mr. Shermer lists the notion that "9/11 was an inside job" as an idea for which there is overwhelming contradictory evidence. In fact, the opposite is true, though this author has closed the water-tight doors in his mind to the concerns raised by many professionals (including over 1,700 plus architects and engineers calling for a new investigation of the collapses that occurred on 9/11). The irony of his closed-minded approach to the events of 9/11 undermines the relevance of most of the rest of the article.

But, it is the article's ending paragraph that would be hilarious in its lack of anything close to advocating a scientific dialog, if it were not so egregious. As strategies for breaking down the opinions of people holding different opinions, he offers—as I read them—the following advice:

• Offer alternative solutions aimed at the weaknesses of your opponents arguments
• Don't repeat any part of the other person's argument so as to not give it any weight
• Emphasis (I read this as, "shout") your facts instead of theirs
• Warn listeners/readers that the other guy's opinion is just myth
• Arm yourself with the knowledge that the other guy probably can't agree with your arguments because your arguments threaten his world view, not because of any inherent weaknesses in your observations

Three steel-frame structures (the first in history to fall symmetrically with a near free-fall level of acceleration to the ground) collapsed on 9/11 into their own footprints. Various "one of" answers have been put forward regarding these irregularities. However, the cumulative probability of never-before-seen-and-never-likely-to-be-seen-again events occurring independently all on the same day at the same site demonstrates exactly how weak the government's story about the events of that day really are. Mr. Shermer's article here and Scientific American Magazine general response to the scientific study of the events of 9/11 appears to have been to use the strategies promoted in this article for putting-down opposing views instead of dealing with the physical and probabilistic questions that are undisputed about the collapses.

Oh, and Mr. Shermer's (and the government's) version of the events (for which largely there is no publicly visible evidence) is a myth.
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8. RSchmidt 10:32 AM 1/12/13

@Andy Swamp, facts and reason cannot cannot cure paranoia, only pharmaceutics and therapy. The article clearly explains your mental challenges but instead of seeing yourself in the mirror you see Michael Shermer as part of the conspiracy. That is one of the biggest challenges when treating the mentally ill, they don't see themselves as ill.

Swiss Army Knives and Water Tight Compartments

I don't want to buy the article to make a comment. I used to subscribe to Scientific American years ago but it has been dumbed down so much that it isn't worth the paper it is printed on. As far as Psychology goes Dr. Shermer is merely espousing 19th century mechanistic drivel and that paper is utter nonsense.

Well, it let me comment anyway. I didn't read the whole article: "Some books are meant to be tasted, others to be swallowed,and some few to be chewed and digested; That is, some books
are to be read only in parts; Others to be read, but not curiously; And some few to be read wholly, and with dilligence and attention."

-Francis Bacon, Of Studies

Peter O'Rourke
B.A. Psychology

I'm a bit stunned that Scientific American publishes

an article by someone who is considered by many to be a quack himself. Have they dumbed down that much? I wonder if they know his history.

Probably.....

They know who the guy is. I think he has a long history with them. They took a lot of heat for his suggesting we pull out of Iraq I think. And while it is an admirable stance, this whole Skeptics-as-Industry thing is pure B.S. They are really skeptic quashers. Plus, as I stated above, his whole psychological paradigm is 17th to 19th century thinking and wouldn't pass muster in a good undergraduate thesis. And as for Scientific American being a dumbed down rag, it's not just me, you can read a lot of negative reviews from long time subscribers at Amazon. I really think they know what they are doing as they have been publishing for over 167 years. Part of the problem, I think, is access to science. I think a lot of research dollars are diverted to weapons research which would as you can imagine be secret. But the dumbing down is endemic now to the print industry as a whole. The New Yorker did that crap piece entitled "Getting Bin Laden" nine pages with big type and this from a magazine that used to pride themselves on getting the DNA of the story; hell they serialized "In Cold Blood," by Truman Capote.

Joe

Nice summation.

• Offer alternative solutions aimed at the weaknesses of your opponents arguments
• Don't repeat any part of the other person's argument so as to not give it any weight
• Emphasis (I read this as, "shout") your facts instead of theirs
• Warn listeners/readers that the other guy's opinion is just myth
• Arm yourself with the knowledge that the other guy probably can't agree with your arguments because your arguments threaten his world view, not because of any inherent weaknesses in your observations

Shermer is interested in "winning" an argument, not in pursuing the truth -- reprehensible and disgusting to the nth degree.

Shermer is on a mission

It's becoming more evident that Shermer is on a (paid?) political mission in bringing his conspiracy theory rant to Scientific American. Fortunately, he's getting thrashed in the comments section, and not just by the 9/11 truth community. There's a lot of good stuff in the comments section and it's the people who read the comments who are the most interested and the ones we should care about the most. When you add the article itself with the comments, the number of words devoted to explaining the truth about 9-11 far exceeds everything else. That's good free coverage for us. You watch, he'll show up again at another surprise venue. Bring it on, Shermer.

Einstein Submitted to Scientific American

Einstein submitted to Scientific American but he wouldn't submit an article to "today's" SA, see what readers have to say about it and while I hate to be elitist or classist any glowing comments you read are written by chumps: http://www.amazon.com/Scientific-American-1-year-auto-renewal/dp/B002PXVYPU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358544773&sr=8-1&keywo...

One comment

Nice to see one comment that, in the course of giving Scientific American a negative evalutaion, also took a swipe at our dear old friend, Popular Mechanics:

'It is still superior to Popular Mechanics and many other "tabloid science" mags but now days [sic] I find better journalism online!'

How would I even know that?

Hate to beat a dead horse but one comment reads: "Witnessing the editorial deterioration of Scientific American over the years has been a sad disappointment." A statement with which I concur. How the f* would I even know that? Hell I went to a State College....something a'int right.