kagedbooks's review

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3.0

The topic is interesting, but when presented as a "course" it probably shouldn't lean so heavily on the author's bias.

jwicking's review

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informative fast-paced

4.0

sophia_dawn's review

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funny informative mysterious medium-paced

4.0

This was super informative and now I feel like I can better debunk conspiracy theories that I hear around me. 

emmycd's review

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3.0

Review to come

tiepilot_dandy's review

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medium-paced

3.75

sardonic_writer's review

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4.0

A much more sobering look than I was expecting and unfortunately timely.

joshuaemccoy's review

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5.0

Last week, a conspiracy theory about Wayfair spread amidst a resurgence of #PizzaGate and "the Rothschilds." It is helpful to have constructive paranoia and skepticism, especially these days with the social internet. It's a fact that some conspiracies are actually true. (See: Fred Hampton; MK Ultra; PORTLAND.) I thought it'd be helpful to have a framework and approach to vet theories.

The world is chaotic. Our brains want to move away from the cognitive dissonance that makes us uncomfortable to cognitive harmony. We wonder how some things could happen. Could it really be that simple? Our brains try to make sense of things by creating an explanation that matches the cognitive scale of those things. We're especially vulnerable when we feel we lack power or the agency to control our own outcomes or life situation.

Are we seeing random clusters as some type of orderly, meaningful pattern? Do we attribute those patterns to some someone or something with power?

Michael Shermer provides a framework to sift through the incessant flow of conspiracy theories and gives us the tools that help us quickly sniff out what has legs and what should be dismissed. Expeditiously.

"Never attribute to malice than can be explained by randomness or incompetence." Everything should start with a null hypothesis meaning not true until proven otherwise. Many people let their conclusion dictate their evidence instead of their evidence dictating their conclusion.

Remember, burden of proof is on the person asserting a claim not on the skeptic to disprove it. We generally are not very good at probabilities, and have a hard time explaining random occurrences.

Most of the time stuff just happens, and our brains just connect the dots.

theliteraryphoenix's review

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informative slow-paced

3.0

In a word, underwhelming.

Part of it is my fault - I can in expecting to learn more about conspiracy theories and less about human psychology so the disappointment on subject matter is on me. But beyond that, Shermer is incredibly repetitive. He brings up the same theories, constructs and examples not only multiple times in individual lectures, but multiple times across the course. This series could have comfortably been completed in half the time, and there would not have been any substantial content cut.

Otherwise, the content was passingly interesting, although niche. Some chapters interested me more than others. Shermer is clearly knowledgeable on his topic and other than the repetition he presents well. I don't think this was worth the time commitment for me, but nor was it a DNF.

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