Synopses & Reviews
Thinking is an innate ability that most people take for granted. But like writing well or speaking effectively before the public, thinking well is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice. In this unique introduction to critical thinking, Robert Bartholomew and Benjamin Radford first lay out the principles of critical thinking and then invite readers to put these principles to the test by examining a series of unusual and challenging case studies. Assembling a wide range of bizarre but actual incidents from many cultures and various time periods, they demonstrate how the tools of critical thinking can help to unravel alleged paranormal events and seemingly mysterious behavior.
What factors led to the "Martian panic" of 1938? Why did many people conclude that an alien spaceship crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947? How do we explain the panic expressed by otherwise normal Southeast Asian men who came to believe that a contagious disease was causing their genitals to shrink, or the frenzied dance manias that captivated thousands of Europeans during the Middle Ages? Bartholomew and Radford show that reality is very much a social construction, that cultural assumptions play a large part in our judgments about what is normal and what is deviant, and that the use of critical reasoning is our best means of ensuring an objective perspective.
About the Author
Robert E. Bartholomew, Ph.D. (Whitehall, NY), is an independent scholar, freelance writer, and the author (with George S. Howard) of UFOs and Alien Contact, among other books and articles.
Benjamin Radford (Amherst, NY) is the managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine and the author of numerous articles on critical thinking, hysterias, and urban legends.
Table of Contents
pt. 1. Thebroad picture --1.Why develop a critical eye --pt. 2. TheAmerican picture --2.Was there really a Martian panic in 1938 --3. TheRoswell "flying saucer" crash of 1947 --4. TheMad Gasser of Mattoon : press creation of an imaginary criminal --5.New England's great airship hoax --pt. 3. Thecross-cultural picture --6.What is normal --7.Latah : strange mental disorder or exotic custom --8.Exploring tolerance : religious devoutness or bizarre ritual --9.Genital-shrinking scares --pt. 4. Thehistorical picture --10. Thedancing mania of the middle ages --11. Thejumping Frenchmen of Maine --12. Thebirthplace of the flying saucer --13.England's black helicopters --14.India' monkey man mania --15.How to recognize mass delusions.