Home » Poe's Law » Professional skeptic Michael Shermer has bought Settled Science, Inc.; a now trademarked subsidiary of his own considered opinions

Professional skeptic Michael Shermer has bought Settled Science, Inc.; a now trademarked subsidiary of his own considered opinions

In The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies–How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths, Michael Shermer explains it all for you. And Publishers Weekly’s reviewer offers

As the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, author of Why People Believe Weird Things, and a columnist for Scientific American, Shermer is perhaps the country’s best-known skeptic. His position is as clear as it is simple: “When I call myself a skeptic I simply mean that I take a scientific approach to the evaluation of claims.” But now Shermer is interested not only in why people have irrational beliefs, but “why people believe at all.” Our brains, he says, have evolved to find meaningful patterns around us. But why do people believe they see patterns–whether “evidence” of angels, conspiracy theories, or UFOs–where none exist? Drawing on evolution, cognitive science, and neuroscience, Shermer considers not only supernatural beliefs but political and economic ones as well. He demonstrates how our brains selectively assess data in an attempt to confirm the conclusions we’ve already reached.

Except for Shermer’s political and economic beliefs which are, doubtless, “a scientific approach.”

And then we read,

Informative and difficult to put down, this book adds a compelling and comprehensive case to the growing number of arguments about the importance of scientific reasoning, marred only by Shermer’s repeated citing of his own works and public appearances.

Well, of course. Why cite anyone other than the final authority?

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

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4 Responses to Professional skeptic Michael Shermer has bought Settled Science, Inc.; a now trademarked subsidiary of his own considered opinions

  1. 1

    He is skeptical about everything but the prevailing orthodoxy. Amusing? Tragic? Both?

  2. The ID movement is a big tent and all are welcome. Even agnostics and atheists are not in principle excluded provided they can adopt this open attitude of mind. In practice, however, agnostics and atheists have their minds made up. Agnostics know that nothing is knowable about a transcendent reality. And atheists know that no transcendent reality exists, so again nothing is knowable about it. Accordingly, agnostics and atheists tend not to join the ID movement. Johnson is a radical skeptic, insisting, in the best Socratic tradition, that everything be put on the table for examination. By contrast, most skeptics opposed to him are selective skeptics, applying their skepticism to the things they dislike (notably religion) and refusing to apply their skepticism to the things they do like (notably Darwinism). On two occasions I’ve urged Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic Magazine, to put me on its editorial board as the resident skeptic of Darwinism. Though Shermer and I know each other and are quite friendly, he never got back to me about joining his editorial board. ~ William Dembski

    The ultimate irony is that this philosophy implies that Darwinism itself is just another meme, competing in the infectivity sweepstakes by attaching itself to that seductive word “science.” Dawkins ceaselessly urges us to be rational, but be does so in the name of a philosophy that implies that no such thing as rationality exists because our thoughts are at the mercy of our genes and memes. The proper conclusion is that the Dawkins poor brain has been infected by the Darwin meme, a virus of the mind if ever there was one, and we wonder if he will ever be able to find the cure. ~ Phillip Johnson

  3. Shermer says here

    “When I call myself a skeptic I simply mean that I take a scientific approach to the evaluation of claims.”

    But is he (Shermer) willing to be skeptical about his own skepticism in a scientifically rigorous way?

  4. This seems fairly significant, but I didn’t know where to put it. I hope putting it here is alright.

    Research Overturns Oldest Evidence of Life On Earth :: PhysOrg.com

    It appears that the supposed oldest examples of life on our planet — 3.5 billion-year-old bacteria fossils found in Australian rock called Apex Chert — are nothing more than tiny gaps in the rock that are packed with minerals.

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