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Critical Thinking: Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, 2nd Edition



Critical Thinking: Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, 2nd Edition

Jonathan C. Smith

ISBN: 978-1-119-02937-3 July 2017 Wiley-Blackwell 320 Pages


Comprehensive and engaging, this extensively revised edition of a student and instructor favorite introduces the basics of critical thinking using the claims of pseudoscience and the paranormal.

  • Guides readers through the critical thinking process by considering different types of support (sources, logic, and scientific observation) and ruling out alternative explanations
  • Allows students to practice and apply their new critical thinking skills on claims of extraordinary cures including energy treatments, complementary/alternative medicine and faith healing as well as four paranormal claims of consequence: astrology, spiritualism and the afterlife, parapsychology, and creationism.
  • Couples a conversational, nontechnical narrative with student-friendly pedagogical tools, including critical thinking questions and a study guide for each chapter.
  • Provides clear and open-minded discussions of the paranormal spectrum, belief justification surveys, the placebo effect, and the relationship between religion and critical thinking

Acknowledgments ix

Part I Introduction 1

1 Critical Thinking: Your Survival Kit 3

2 The Paranormal Spectrum 13

3 What’s the Harm? Why Study These Things? 25

Part II The Critical Thinker’s Toolkit 47

4 Sources 49

5 Logic (Bonus: The Big Four Informal Logical Fallacies) 61

6 Logic and Language: Fallacies of Ambiguity 79

7 Science 93

Part III Alternative Explanations 115

8 Oddities of Nature and the World of Numbers 117

9 Perceptual Error and Trickery 135

10 Memory Errors 155

11 The Placebo Effect 167

12 Sensory Phenomena, Hallucinations, and Psychiatric Conditions 189

Part IV Paranormal Challenges 211

13 Claims of Extraordinary Cures 213

14 From the Paranormal Sampler: Four Claims of Consequence 229

Appendix A: Why Do You Believe? 255

Appendix B: Belief Justification Survey 261

Notes 271

References 273

Index 295