Implausible Beliefs: In the Bible, Astrology, and UFOs
By: Allan Mazur (author)Hardback
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Why do people accept ideas that are contradicted by science or logic? In "Implausible Beliefs", Allan Mazur offers a comparative look at the nature of irrational belief systems, their social roots, and their cultural and political impact. Mazur first provides standards for judging beliefs implausible and assesses the scope of the problem in the United States with respect to politics and social policy. He describes and defends commonsense criteria that together make a strong case that certainly views should not be sustained in the face of present-day understanding. Mazur concludes this first part with a statistical portrait of implausible beliefs in the United States, and who tends to accept them. He then applies criteria for implausibility to the Bible, astrology, and visitation to Earth of intelligent beings from other worlds. Pointing out that everyone "knows" the Bible but few actually read it, Mazur scrolls through the first five books of the text, noting point after point that undermines scripture's natural history and moral guidance.
Working on the assumption that implausible religious views are fundamentally no different from implausible secular views, he critiques secular beliefs in astrology and UFOs. Mazur concludes the volume with an attempt to explain why most people accept implausibilities - some more than others - despite evidence and logic that refute them. Looking to mainstream sociology and psychology, Mazur shows how as children we are socialized into these or similar beliefs, and how as adults we are influenced by spouses and friends. Personality is also a factor, sometimes abetted by stressful or lonely life situations. "Implausible Beliefs" differs from most current books on the subject by analyzing the overarching similarity of religious and secular belief systems. Lucidly written, it is a provocative and informative contribution to the literature of social psychology, sociology, religion, political science, and American studies.
Allan Mazur is professor of public affairs at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. He has taught at MIT and Stanford University and earlier worked in the aerospace industry. Elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he is interested in biosociology, research methods, and in social conflicts over science, technology, and the environment.
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- ID: 9781412806770
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