Richard Wilson's blog

richardcameronwilson AT yahoo dot co dot UK

Posts Tagged ‘sceptics

“Don’t Get Fooled Again” reviewed in the Guardian by Steven Poole

leave a comment »

Review in The Guardian by Steven Poole

There’s always somebody trying to pull a fast one, but we can help ourselves. “The antidotes to delusion are logic and evidence, preferably from multiple sources.” The author hopes to give us the tools to avoid being fooled by “pseudo-news”, as well as pseudo-experts, and pseudo-conspiracy theories. Confusingly, many of the people we ought to be sceptical of pretend to be sceptics themselves. The giveaway, as Wilson nicely shows, is that their scepticism is asymmetrical: no evidence is ever enough for someone “sceptical” about anthropogenic global warming (an example not included in this book), and yet they are remarkably credulous about any alternative factoids that might seem to support their own view.

Wilson ranges somewhat loosely over examples contemporary and historical: anti-Aids science in South Africa, Lysenko’s pseudo-agriculture, David Irving’s Holocaust denial, Richard Dawkins’s atheism, and torture at Abu Ghraib, explaining psychological ideas of selection bias and groupthink along the way. He alludes to the X-Files slogan “I want to believe” as an example of dangerous thinking, but to be fair they also say “Trust no one.”

Advertisements

Atom smashing with Neil Denny

with 2 comments

There’s no radio show quite like Little Atoms, which broadcasts on Resonance FM from a small studio near London’s Borough Market. In the last few years Neil Denny has interviewed an impressive line-up of leading sceptical thinkers, from Francis Wheen and Alain de Botton to Ben Goldacre, Julian Baggini, Jon Ronson and Stewart Lee.

It was an honour to be on the show, and a pleasure chatting to Neil about Don’t Get Fooled Again, discussing the weird cult of AIDS denial (148 comments on my New Statesman article and counting, with the debate still raging three weeks after it was published), the extraordinary Booker-Bridle asbestos love-in, and lots more besides. The interview should be available online in the next few days, so I’ll post the link when it appears.