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By Stephen Law

Wacky and ridiculous trust platforms abound. participants of the Heaven's Gate suicide cult believed they have been taking a journey to heaven on board a alien ship. Muslim suicide bombers anticipate to be greeted after demise via seventy two heavenly virgins. and plenty of fundamentalist Christians insist the total universe is simply 6,000 years old.

Of direction it's not just cults and religions that advertise weird and wonderful ideals. major numbers of individuals think that extraterrestrial beings equipped the pyramids, that the Holocaust by no means occurred, and that the realm alternate middle used to be introduced down by means of the USA government.

How do such ridiculous perspectives achieve entrenching themselves within the minds of sane, clever, college-educated humans and switch them into the keen slaves of claptrap? How, specifically, do the real believers be ready to persuade themselves that they're the rational, average ones and that everybody else is deluded?

Believing Bullshit identifies 8 key mechanisms which may rework a collection of rules right into a mental flytrap. thinker Stephen legislation means that, just like the black holes of outer house, from which not anything, now not even gentle, can break out, our modern cultural panorama comprises various highbrow black-holes—belief structures developed in one of these means that unwary passers-by can equally locate themselves drawn in. whereas such self-sealing bubbles of trust will most simply seize the gullible or poorly expert, even the main clever and expert folks are probably weak. many of the world's maximum thinkers have fallen in, by no means to escape.

Law's witty, insightful critique may also help immunize readers opposed to the wiles of cultists, non secular and political zealots, conspiracy theorists, promoters of flaky replacement medications, and diverse different nutcases by way of sincerely starting off the methods of the alternate through which such insidious trust platforms are created and maintained.

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Additional info for Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole

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16 It is not always clear what exactly is meant to be the difference between a real and a notional distinction; but it seems safe to assume that there is only a notional, and not a real distinction, where one and the same object is identified by two different concepts. Thus, for instance, there will be a notional, but not a real, distinction between the morning star and the evening star, or between the square of 2 and the square root of 16. On the other hand, there will be a real distinction between the planet Mars and the planet Venus, and between the square root of 9 and the cube root of 16.

11 The point would be made in Latin by saying that it gives esse quid not esse simpliciter.  On Being and Essence: II that there can be substances to which the analysis of matter and form does not apply, rather than that there are substances in which there is form without matter (or substances in which there is incorporeal matter). In some places, as we shall see, this seems to be a line favoured by Aquinas: but in the present context he prefers to explore the concept of pure form. 12 Following the teaching of Avicenna, Aquinas draws two consequences from the contrast between simple substances whose essence is pure form and compound substances whose essence involves both matter and form.

Joseph Owens, ‘Quiddity and Real Distinction in St Thomas Aquinas’, Mediaeval Studies, 27 (1965), p. 5. On Being and Essence: II  Once again, the doctrine, whether or not its formulation is confusing, seems to be true and important. It is when the doctrine is employed to mark a fundamental difference between creatures and God that it becomes more difficult to comprehend. For it seems that, in the same way as I can have a concept of phoenix without knowing whether or not there are phoenixes, so I can have a concept of God without knowing whether or not there is a God.

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