“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act. If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
George Orwell



Pass it on! Tell a friend!



“When the truth is found to be lies . . .”
Okay. You know the rest!
Somebody to Love — Jefferson Airplane 1967


The Age of Easy Money
a two-hour special on economic uncertainty

By Raney Aronson-Rath — PBS FRONTLINE

This weekend, the U.S. government took emergency measures to shore up the banking system after the failure of Silicon Valley Bank. It was the biggest U.S. bank collapse since the 2008 financial crisis, and it heightened concerns about economic stability at a time when uncertainty was already high and the specter of a recession was already looming around the globe.



The 5-Step CEO Pay Scam

By Robert Reich

From 1978 to 2021, CEO pay grew by 1,460% while the typical worker’s pay rose just 18%. This explosion in CEO pay relative to the pay of average workers isn’t because CEOs have become so much more valuable than before.

They’ve just gamed the system to line their pockets.


Robert B. Reich

“A handful of billionaires now have unprecedented control over banking, the food we eat, the healthcare we can access and, now, the information we receive.  This is what oligarchy looks like.”
— Robert B. Reich


Corporate Fraud Investigation
the hubris of the super-rich

By Freya Berry — The Guardian

While the fraudsters are often cunning, sooner or later they get carried away.

FTX’s HQ, we now know, was not your typical one. CEO Sam Bankman-Fried ran his business from a $40m Bahamian penthouse named the Orchid, complete with Venetian plaster walls and a grand piano. The lot was nestled beside a championship golf course and a mega-yacht marina. Since Amazon doesn’t deliver to the Bahamas, private jets did the job instead.

It wasn’t your typical corporate HQ – but then, FTX is not your typical corporation. It’s bankrupt, dragged down by its own financial abuses, with its chief executive facing prison. Yet while FTX has made headlines, its tale is not as unusual as you might think.



Your Lying Mind
We’re hardwired to delude ourselves.

By Isabel Fattal –The Atlantic

What can we do about it?

Julie Beck (This Article Won’t Change Your Mind) asks a social psychologist: “What would get someone to change their mind about a false belief that is deeply tied to their identity?”

The answer? “Probably nothing.”



What Psychology Can Teach Us
about george santos

By Maria Konnikova — The Atlantic

Telling lies about yourself can actually make you feel more confident.

Branding anyone who misrepresents something or lies a bit as a con artist might be convenient, but if we do so, the term loses all meaning. For con artists, lying is a way of being. It reaches past exaggeration or misrepresentation into a prevailing disconnect from reality.



“We tend to trust people who appear and act similarly to us.”
— Maria Konnikova


The Confidence Game
Why we fall for it every time

By Maria Konnikova

Think you can’t get conned? Think again . . .

A compelling investigation into the minds, motives, and methods of con artists—and the people who fall for their cons over and over again.

From multimillion-dollar Ponzi schemes to small-time frauds, Konnikova pulls together a selection of fascinating stories to demonstrate what all cons share in common, drawing on scientific, dramatic, and psychological perspectives. Insightful and gripping, the book brings readers into the world of the con, examining the relationship between artist and victim. The Confidence Game asks not only why we believe con artists, but also examines the very act of believing and how our sense of truth can be manipulated by those around us.



Con Girl Documentary
quite possibly the most astonishingly outlandish story ever told

By Rebecca Nicholson — The Guardian

The lively Australian documentary Con Girl unravels the mind-boggling exploits of one of Australia’s most prolific scammers … whose lies were so extreme they still defy belief. This is the astonishingly bizarre story of a woman named Samantha Azzopardi — known to various other women around the world as either Annika, Coco, Layla, Emily or Harper, among other names. These cons are so strange and perplexing that it takes four hours to try to unravel them



The ‘Cryptoqueen’ Scammed Investors Out of $4 Billion
Then she boarded a plane and disappeared

By CNN Business

Ruja Ignatova strode onto the stage in a flowing burgundy ball gown adorned with black sparkles. Beams of light flashed, fireballs erupted and Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” blared through the speakers at London’s Wembley Arena.

That was in June 2016, when cryptocurrency was an emerging buzzword and investors were scrambling to cash in. 

“In two years, nobody will speak about Bitcoin anymore,” she said, as investors applauded and whistled.

Sixteen months later, Ignatova boarded a plane in Sofia, Bulgaria, and vanished. She hasn’t been seen since.



FTX and Cryptocurrency Frauds
The largest Ponzi scheme in history

By Brian Schwartz and Chelsey Cox — NBC News

  • The Senate Banking hearing is set to take place just one day after new FTX CEO John J. Ray testified in front of the House Financial Services Committee.
  • FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was charged by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York for a wide variety of crimes including wire fraud, securities fraud and violating campaign finance regulations.


Biggest Financial Frauds
A brief history of financial skullduggery

By Julian Mark and Rachel Lerman — The Washington Post

From Charles Ponzi to Bernie Madoff!



The Difference Between Lies and Bullshit

By Aditya Chakrabortty — The Guardian

We have suffered both. Some never speak the truth because they don’t know or care about it. Others know the truth but lie anyway



How Powerful People Get Away with It 

Untouchable: How Powerful People Get Away with It by [Elie Honig]

By Elie Honig

Elie Honig exposes how the rich and powerful use the system to their own benefit, revealing how notorious figures like Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, and Bill Cosby successfully eluded justice for decades. He demonstrates how the Trump children dodged a fraud indictment. He makes clear how countless CEOs and titans of Wall Street have been let off the hook, receiving financial penalties without suffering criminal consequences.

This doesn’t happen by accident.



American Oligarchs
The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power

American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power by [Andrea Bernstein]

By Andrea Bernstein

An absorbing, novelistic, and powerfully affecting work of history and investigative journalism that tracks the unraveling of American democracy.

In American Oligarchs, award-winning investigative journalist Andrea Bernstein tells the story of the Trump and Kushner families like never before. Building on her landmark reporting for the acclaimed podcast Trump, Inc. and The New Yorker, Bernstein brings to light new information about the families’ arrival as immigrants to America, their paths to success, and the business and personal lives of the president and his closest family members.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews and more than one hundred thousand pages of documents, American Oligarchs details how the Trump and Kushner dynasties encouraged and profited from a system of corruption, dark money, and influence trading, and reveals the historical turning points and decisions on taxation, regulation, white-collar crime, and campaign finance laws that have brought us to where we are today.

A new afterword examines how the two families’ transactional politics left America particularly vulnerable to the crises of 2020.



Hatchet Man
How Bill Barr broke the prosecutor’s code and corrupted the justice department

Hatchet Man: How Bill Barr Broke the Prosecutor's Code and Corrupted the Justice Department by [Elie Honig]

By Elie Honig

Former federal prosecutor Elie Honig uncovers Barr’s unprecedented abuse of power as Attorney General and the lasting structural damage done to the Justice Department. Honig uses his own experience as a prosecutor at DOJ to show how, as America’s top law enforcement official, Barr repeatedly violated the Department’s written rules, and those vital, unwritten norms and principles that comprise the “prosecutor’s code.”



Confidence Man
The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America

Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America by [Maggie Haberman]

By Maggie Haberman 

A magnificent and disturbing reckoning that chronicles Trump’s life and its meaning from his rise in New York City to his tortured post-presidency.

Few journalists working today have covered Donald Trump more extensively than Maggie Haberman. And few understand him and his motivations better. Now, demonstrating her majestic command of this story, Haberman reveals in full the depth of her understanding of the 45th president himself, and of what the Trump phenomenon means.



Why Do We Believe Liars?

By F. Diane Barth — NBC News

Denying reality, or not crediting something we know is true, is a way to unconsciously protect ourselves from the pain of an untruth.

It is not unusual for people to believe someone, even when they have substantial proof that the are being lied to. Why do we continue to believe someone, even when we have rational and substantial evidence that they are lying to us?

With denial we can reassure ourselves that everything is okay, even when it is not. The reassurance can give a frightened psyche time and space to work on possible solutions, which is harder to do when you are in a state of panic, anxiety or dread.



The Flim-Flam Man

a global history

Ignorance: A Global History by [Peter Burke]

By Peter Burke

In this highly original account, Peter Burke examines the long history of humanity’s ignorance across religion and science, war and politics, business and catastrophes. Burke reveals remarkable stories of the many forms of ignorance—genuine or feigned, conscious and unconscious—from the willful politicians who redrew Europe’s borders in 1919 to the politics of whistleblowing and climate change denial. The result is a lively exploration of human knowledge across the ages, and the importance of recognizing its limits.



Ignorance Book Review
Ignorance is not always bliss — and not always bad

By Michael Dirda — The Washington Post

Ignorance explores the myriad ways in which not-knowing — consciously or unconsciously — has shaped history.

Ignorance may sometimes be bliss, but in general it gets a bad rap — which is why the latest book from Peter Burke comes as a surprise.




Profiles in Ignorance
how american’s politicians got dumb and dumber

Profiles in Ignorance: How America's Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber by [Andy Borowitz]

By Andy Borowitz

Borowitz argues that over the past fifty years, American politicians have grown increasingly allergic to knowledge, and mass media have encouraged the election of ignoramuses by elevating candidates who are better at performing than thinking.

Starting with Ronald Reagan’s first campaign for governor of California in 1966 and culminating with the election of Donald J. Trump to the White House, Borowitz shows how, during the age of twenty-four-hour news and social media, the US has elected politicians to positions of great power whose lack of the most basic information is terrifying.

In addition to Reagan, Quayle, Bush, Palin, and Trump, Borowitz covers a host of congresspersons, senators, and governors who have helped lower the bar over the past five decades.



A Passion for Ignorance
What We Choose Not to Know and Why

A Passion for Ignorance: What We Choose Not to Know and Why by [Renata Salecl]

By Renata Salecl

Ignorance, whether passive or active, conscious or unconscious, has always been a part of the human condition, Renata Salecl argues.

What has changed in our post-truth, postindustrial world is that we often feel overwhelmed by the constant flood of information and misinformation. It sometimes seems impossible to differentiate between truth and falsehood and, as a result, there has been a backlash against the idea of expertise, and a rise in the number of people actively choosing not to know. T

he dangers of this are obvious, but Salecl challenges our assumptions, arguing that there may also be a positive side to ignorance, and that by addressing the role of ignorance in society, we may also be able to reclaim the role of knowledge.



The Fascination of Serial Killers & True Crime Stories

By Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford – Your Tango

Most serial killers appeared quite charming, intelligent, attractive, and engaging.

Often, serial killers are able to blend in with everyone else. Some of them can be so charismatic that we secretly desire to be just like them — before we realize they are serial killers.

People gravitate to them, and they are usually the life of the party.



Dark Money Groups
push election denialism on US state officials

By Ed Pilkington and Jamie Corey — The Guardian



Dark Money
The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by [Jane Mayer]

By Jane Mayer

Donald Trump’s election victory was a huge victory for the billionaires who have been pouring money into the American political system.

  • Why is America living in an age of profound and widening economic inequality?
  • Why have even modest attempts to address climate change been defeated again and again?
  • Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?

In a riveting and indelible feat of reporting, Jane Mayer illuminates the history of an elite cadre of plutocrats—headed by the Kochs, the Scaifes, the Olins, and the Bradleys—who have bankrolled a systematic plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.



The Dark Side
The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals by [Jane Mayer]

By Jane Mayer

A dramatic, riveting, and definitive narrative account of how the United States made self-destructive decisions in the pursuit of terrorists around the world—decisions that not only violated the Constitution, but also hampered the pursuit of Al Qaeda.

In spellbinding detail, Jane Mayer relates the impact of these decisions by which key players, namely Vice President Dick Cheney and his powerful, secretive adviser David Addington, exploited September 11 to further a long held agenda to enhance presidential powers to a degree never known in U.S. history, and obliterate Constitutional protections that define the very essence of the American experiment. With a new afterward.



Rise of the Vulcans
The History of Bush’s War Cabinet

Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet by [James Mann]

By James Mann 

When George W. Bush campaigned for the White House, he was such a novice in foreign policy that he couldn’t name the president of Pakistan and momentarily suggested he thought the Taliban was a rock-and-roll band. But he relied upon a group called the Vulcans—an inner circle of advisers with a long, shared experience in government, dating back to the Nixon, Ford, Reagan and first Bush administrations.

After returning to power in 2001, the Vulcans were widely expected to restore U.S. foreign policy to what it had been under George H. W. Bush and previous Republican administrations. Instead, the Vulcans put America on an entirely new and different course, adopting a far-reaching set of ideas that changed the world and America’s role in it.

Rise of the Vulcans is nothing less than a detailed, incisive thirty-five-year history of the top six members of the Vulcans—Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, and Condoleezza Rice—and the era of American dominance they represent. It is the story of the lives, ideas and careers of Bush’s war cabinet—the group of Washington insiders who took charge of America’s response to September 11 and led the nation into its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.



The Petroleum Papers
Inside the Far-Right Conspiracy to Cover Up Climate Change

The Petroleum Papers: Inside the Far-Right Conspiracy to Cover Up Climate Change by [Geoff Dembicki]

By Geoff Dembicki

Burning fossil fuels will cause catastrophic global warming: this is what top American oil executives were told by scientists in 1959. But they ignored that warning.

Instead, they developed one of the biggest, most polluting oil sources in the world—the oil sands in Alberta, Canada. As investigative journalist Geoff Dembicki reveals in this explosive book, the decades-long conspiracy to keep the oil sands flowing into the U.S. would turn out to be one of the biggest reasons for the world’s failure to stop the climate crisis.



Exxon’s Climate Crisis Predictions
have increased its legal peril

Exxon climate scientists ‘correctly and skillfully’ predicted climbing global temperatures, rising by around 0.2C a decade due to the burning of fossil fuels.

By Oliver Milman — The Guardian

Further revelations of the extent of Exxon’s historical knowledge of the unfolding climate crisis may have deepened the legal peril faced by the oil giant, with several US states suing the company for alleged deception, claiming their cases have now been strengthened.



Fossil Fuels Kill More People Than Covid
Why are we so blind to the harms of oil and gas?

By Rebecca Solnit — The Guardian

Were we able to perceive afresh the sheer scale of fossil fuel impact we might be horrified, but because this is an old problem too many don’t see it as a problem.

If fossil fuel use and impact had suddenly appeared overnight, their catastrophic poisonousness and destructiveness would be obvious. But they have so incrementally become part of everyday life nearly everywhere on Earth that those impacts are largely accepted or ignored.

Why is that?



Why We Need New Stories on Climate
‘If you win the popular imagination, you change the game’

By Rebecca Solnit — The Guardian

So much is happening, both wonderful and terrible – and it matters how we tell it. We can’t erase the bad news, but to ignore the good is the route to indifference or despair.

Every crisis is in part a storytelling crisis. This is as true of climate chaos as anything else. We are hemmed in by stories that prevent us from seeing, or believing in, or acting on the possibilities for change. Some are habits of mind, some are industry propaganda. Sometimes, the situation has changed but the stories haven’t, and people follow the old versions, like outdated maps, into dead ends.



Inventing Anna

Don’t Miss This Exciting Series on Netflix


Low Sense of Personal Control
Increases People’s Affinity for
Tighter, Rules-Based Culture

By Jim Silwa — Neuroscience News

People who feel a lack of personal control in their lives are more likely to prefer a culture that imposes order, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. These “tighter” cultures, in turn, perpetuate their existence by reducing individuals’ sense of personal control and increasing their sense of collective control.

“Strong social norms—a core feature of tight cultures—help people view the world as simple and coherent. As strong norms guide people’s behaviors and allow them to predict others’ behaviors, they can provide a significant source of order and predictability in everyday social life,” said lead author Anyi Ma, PhD, of Tulane University.



Bat-People on the Moon
what a famed 1835 hoax reveals about misinformation today

By Kirsty B. Carter — aeon

While the social media age may allow misinformation to spread like a highly contagious virus, ‘fake news’ is, of course, as old as the news itself. And, as The Great Moon Hoax chronicles, the Moon proved fertile ground for misinformation long before the persistent conspiracy theory that the Apollo landings were faked. In this short, the Australian journalist Kirsty B. Carter interviews the US writer Matthew Goodman who explains how a series of stories, originally intended as satire and published in 1835 in the New York paper The Sun, convinced millions that the Moon was teeming with life – including, infamously, a race of bat-people. 

Watch the video!



Collective Illusions
Conformity, Complicity, and the Science of Why We Make Bad Decisions

By Tod Rose

Much of our thinking is informed by false assumptions—making us dangerously mistrustful as a society and needlessly unhappy as individuals. 

The desire to fit in is one of the most powerful, least understood forces in society. 

As human beings, we continually act against our own best interests because our brains misunderstand what others believe. A complicated set of illusions driven by conformity bias distorts how we see the world around us.



The Knowledge Illusion
Why We Never Think Alone

By Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach

We all think we know more than we actually do.

Humans have built hugely complex societies and technologies, but most of us don’t even know how a pen or a toilet works. How have we achieved so much despite understanding so little? Cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach argue that we survive and thrive despite our mental shortcomings because we live in a rich community of knowledge. The key to our intelligence lies in the people and things around us. We’re constantly drawing on information and expertise stored outside our heads: in our bodies, our environment, our possessions, and the community with which we interact—and usually we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

The human mind is both brilliant and pathetic. We have mastered fire, created democratic institutions, stood on the moon, and sequenced our genome. And yet each of us is error prone, sometimes irrational, and often ignorant. The fundamentally communal nature of intelligence and knowledge explains why we often assume we know more than we really do, why political opinions and false beliefs are so hard to change, and why individual-oriented approaches to education and management frequently fail. But our collaborative minds also enable us to do amazing things. The Knowledge Illusion contends that true genius can be found in the ways we create intelligence using the community around us.




Doctor Ice Pick

By Claire Prentice

A haunting and true short story of the lobotomist who cut a brutal swathe through the lives of thousands of vulnerable Americans.

In July 1952, Dr. Walter Freeman arrived at the gates of a West Virginia asylum. In his medical bag he carried two metal picks and a surgical hammer. He had invented a “cheap, easy” ten-minute lobotomy. The press described it as a miracle cure, a new frontier in psychosurgery.

That summer, in just twelve days, Freeman lobotomized 228 men, women, and children in West Virginia’s public mental hospitals. His blitzkrieg of brain surgery became known as “Operation Ice Pick,” named after the tools he wielded.

To some, the doctor was a hero, solving the crisis facing the nation’s underfunded and overcrowded psychiatric institutions. But many who watched him operate saw a dangerous risk-taker, a showman and a charlatan. This is the true story of a scientific pioneer whose misguided quest created one of the biggest tragedies in American medical history.



Suspicious Minds
why we believe conspiracy theories

By Rob Brotherton

We’re all conspiracy theorists. Some of us just hide it better than others.

Conspiracy theorists do not wear tin-foil hats (for the most part). They are not just a few kooks lurking on the paranoid fringes of society with bizarre ideas about shape-shifting reptilian aliens running society in secret. They walk among us. They are us.



Why Idiots Think They’re Smart
Dunning On The Dunning–Kruger Effect


“I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing,” a wise guy once said. 

Have you ever noticed that the person with the least amount of knowledge on a subject is often the most confident to blast you with their opinion about it?

This is a well-known experience that can perhaps be explained by the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias whereby people with limited ability in a given field tend to greatly overestimate their own competence. The less ability, the more they tend to overestimate their competence. 



Socially Isolated People Have Differently Wired Brains
and poorer cognition

By Barbara Jacquelyn Sahakian, Christelle Langley, Chun Shen, and Jianfeng Feng — Neuroscience News

Summary: Social isolation is linked to alterations in brain structure and cognitive deficits. Additionally, social isolation can increase the risk of developing dementia as a person ages.

Why do we get a buzz from being in large groups at festivals, jubilees and other public events? According to the social brain hypothesis, it’s because the human brain specifically evolved to support social interactions. Studies have shown that belonging to a group can lead to improved well-being and increased satisfaction with life.

Unfortunately though, many people are lonely or socially isolated. 



How Minds Change
The Surprising science of belief, opinion and peruasion

By David McRaney

A brain-bending investigation of why some people never change their minds—and others do in an instant.

What made a prominent conspiracy-theorist YouTuber finally see that 9/11 was not a hoax? How do voter opinions shift from neutral to resolute? Can widespread social change only take place when a generation dies out? From one of our greatest thinkers on reasoning, HOW MINDS CHANGE is a book about the science, and the experience, of transformation.



The Neuroscience of Optical Illusions
“Reality” is constructed by your brain. Here’s what that means, and why it matters.

By Brian Resnick — Vox

“It’s really important to understand we’re not seeing reality,” says neuroscientist Patrick Cavanagh, a research professor at Dartmouth College and a senior fellow at Glendon College in Canada. “We’re seeing a story that’s being created for us.”



The Neural Architecture of Intelligence
Finding solutions to the diverse problems we encounter in life

By Marianna Pogosyan Ph.D. — Psychology Today

The human brain is home to around 100 billion neurons. That’s roughly the number of stars the Milky Way harbors. Compared to most stars that like to drift through the galaxy by their lonesome selves, our neurons are champion extroverts. They like to make connections; 10^15 of them. Thanks to the miraculous chemical and electrical choreography that our networking neurons stage on any ordinary day, we are able to write love letters, calculate gratuities, and cure diseases.

  • General intelligence is our general problem-solving aptitude.
  • Intelligence doesn’t reside in one particular region or network of the brain.
  • Brain plasticity is central to general intelligence.
  • General intelligence reflects individual differences in the efficiency and flexibility of brain networks.


We Are Fictional Characters
of Our Own Creation

By Nick Chater — BIG Think

We imagine and debate the inner lives of literary characters, knowing there can be no truth about their real motives or beliefs. Could our own inner lives also be works of fiction?

  • Data suggests that the stories we tell ourselves about our motives, beliefs, and values are not merely unreliable but entirely fictitious. 
  • Our brains are such master storytellers that they even are able to justify choices that we never made. 
  • Introspection is not some strange inner perception; it is the human imagination turned upon itself.


Theory of Mind
what chess and drug dealers can teach you about manipulation

By Jonny Thomson — BigThink

Theory of mind is the ability we all have to see things from another’s point of view. It’s essential in all our interactions.

Thinking ahead is one hallmark of intelligence. Without it, we’re simply slaves to our instincts and reflexes. The role of forward thinking when dealing with others is addressed in a recent study out of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. It shows just how far ahead we think when we interact with — and manipulate — other people.



How Manipulators & Sociopaths Trick People
into doing anything they want

By Donna Andersen — Your Tango

You, too, may have been convinced to comply with outrageous demands, doing things that you knew were wrong.

But why?

The answer lies in the essence of our humanity — the power of our minds and social instincts.

Our realities are strongly influenced by our minds. How we perceive the world, the possibilities we envision, and what we experience can all be created by what we believe.



They Wanted Something for Nothing
The Many Cons of The Yellow Kid

By Dean Jobb — CrimeReads

He was America’s “greatest con man,” self-proclaimed and widely celebrated. But what was the real story of Joseph Weil?

Joseph Weil — most people knew him only by his nickname, the “Yellow Kid” — looked like a wealthy, respectable citizen. The mustache of his neatly trimmed, reddish beard turned up slightly at each end, mimicking the mischievous smile below. The reporters who covered Chicago’s busy criminal courts were always glad to see him, and over drinks he regaled them with stories of his latest confidence tricks.



The Believing Brain
From ghosts and gods to politics and conspiracies

By Michael Shermer

How we construct beliefs and reinforce them as truths.

In this work synthesizing thirty years of research, psychologist, historian of science, and the world’s best-known skeptic Michael Shermer upends the traditional thinking about how humans form beliefs about the world.

Simply put, beliefs come first and explanations for beliefs follow. 



Why Facts Don’t Change Minds
cognitive biases and brain biology

By Keith M. Bellizzi – The Conversation

Our worldview forms during childhood as a result of our socialization within a particular cultural context. Our views get reinforced over time by the social groups we keep, the media we consume, and even the way in which our brains are wired. Challenging our worldviews with facts can feel like an attack on our personal identities and can often result in hardening our positions. Researchers assess how we can open our minds and explore facts that may go against our personal worldviews.

People form opinions based on emotions, such as fear, contempt and anger, rather than relying on facts. New facts often do not change people’s minds.



The Third Man Factor
Surviving the Impossible

By John Geiger

An extraordinary account of how people at the very edge of death often sense an unseen presence beside them who encourages them to make one final effort to survive.

This incorporeal being offers a feeling of hope, protection, and guidance, and leaves the person convinced he or she is not alone. There is a name for this phenomenon: it’s called the Third Man Factor.



“If you heave an egg out of a Pullman car window anywhere in the United States you are likely to hit a fundamentalist.”
— H.L. Mencken,1927


Malcolm Nance on the Danger of Conspiracy Theories

By Isaac Chotiner — The New Yorker

The former naval intelligence officer Malcolm Nance discusses his fears about the Trump Presidency and whether he believes Trump and members of his circle are foreign agents.

“You are watching a strategic plan that’s being executed by Russia. None of this is piecemeal; none of this is small-time—it is a long ball game.”



“Today, science reporting in the American press is freer of humbug and misinformation than ever before in history.”
— Martin Gardner, 1952


Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

The curious theories of modern pseudoscientists

By Martin Gardner

This witty and engaging book examines the various fads, fallacies, strange cults, and curious panaceas which at one time or another have masqueraded as science. Not just a collection of anecdotes but a fair, reasoned appraisal of eccentric theory, it is unique in recognizing the scientific, philosophic, and sociological-psychological implications of the wave of pseudoscientific theories which periodically besets the world.

Here you will find discussions of hollow-earth fanatics like Symmes; Velikovsky and wandering planets; Hörbiger, Bellamy, and the theory of multiple moons; Charles Fort and the Fortean Society; dowsing and the other strange methods for finding water, ores, and oil. Also covered are such topics as naturopathy, iridiagnosis, zone therapy, food fads; Wilhelm Reich and orgone sex energy; L. Ron Hubbard and Dianetics; A. Korzybski and General Semantics. A new examination of Bridey Murphy is included in this edition, along with a new section on bibliographic reference material.



Why Some People Are More Prone to Believing Conspiracy Theories
a neuroscientist explains it

By Francesca Benson — IFLSCIENCE!

Recently, droves of people have hurled themselves headfirst into the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories. While some of the more outlandish theories make for a fun read, many take them completely seriously, declaring that they see a sinister underbelly to everyday life.

Neuroscientist Shannon Odell explains why in this video from Inverse.



Conspiracy Theories Are a Mental Health Crisis
The complex relationship between mental health, conspiracy theories, and disinformation that no one’s talking about. 

By Rebecca Ruiz — Mashable

Every day, people who spend time online face a deluge of conspiracy theories, misinformation, and disinformation. Plenty of them move along, clicking past outlandish or false content that’s designed to lure them in. Some, however, become ensnared for reasons experts don’t fully understand. People quickly slip into dark corners of the internet and find a community of believers, or even zealots, who swear they’ve discovered hidden truths and forbidden knowledge.



How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by [Kurt Andersen]

By Kurt Andersen

How did we get here?

This post-factual, “fake news” moment we’re all living through is not something new, but rather the ultimate expression of our national character. America was founded by wishful dreamers, magical thinkers, and true believers, by hucksters and their suckers. Fantasy is deeply embedded in our DNA.



the history of america’s irrationality

By Kurt Andersen

How can we make sense of America’s current “post-factual,” “post-truth,” “fake news” moment? By looking to America’s past. All the way back. To the wishful dreams and make-believe fears of the country’s first settlers, the madness of the Salem witch trials, the fantasies of Hollywood, the anything-goes 1960s, the gatekeeper-free internet, the profusion of reality TV….all the way up to and most especially including President Donald Trump.


America’s Departure from Reality
The Cultural Factors

By Kurt Andersen

Kurt Andersen’s cover story “How America Lost Its Mind” argues that “being American means we can believe anything we want.” This is due to a combination of the new-age mentality born out of the 1960s that encouraged Americans to find their own truth and the internet age, which has allowed us to create communities that reinforce our beliefs. According to Andersen, the perfect manifestation of America’s journey away from reality is the election of Donald Trump.



Evil Geniuses
The Unmaking of America: A Recent History

Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History by [Kurt Andersen]

By Kurt Andersen

During the twentieth century, America managed to make its economic and social systems both more and more fair and more and more prosperous. A huge, secure, and contented middle class emerged. All boats rose together. But then the New Deal gave way to the Raw Deal. Beginning in the early 1970s, by means of a long war conceived of and executed by a confederacy of big business CEOs, the superrich, and right-wing zealots, the rules and norms that made the American middle class possible were undermined and dismantled. The clock was turned back on a century of economic progress, making greed good, workers powerless, and the market all-powerful while weaponizing nostalgia, lifting up an oligarchy that served only its own interests, and leaving the huge majority of Americans with dwindling economic prospects and hope.



Evil Geniuses
the unmaking of america

By Kurt Andersen

While the last four years in America have certainly felt crazy and chaotic, the best-selling author of the recent book, “Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History,” Kurt Andersen, contends that the insanity actually started much earlier, beginning back in the 1970s.



Evil Geniuses
the unmaking of america

By Kurt Andersen — Amanpour and Company

As the pandemic lays bare social, legal, racial and financial injustice in America, it is vital to examine how the system got its start. Kurt Andersen is a best-selling author and journalist whose latest book examines the origins of America’s hyper-capitalism. He speaks with Walter Isaacson about the genesis and propagation of the system–and the need to take a step back.



Virtual Memories

By Kurt Andersen

With his fantastic new book, Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America (Random House, Kurt Andersen explores how rich conservatives responded to the 1960s by pushing America on a pro-business trajectory that has led to record income inequality and a nation unequipped to handle a pandemic. We get into the one-two punch of this book and Kurt’s previous history of America, Fantasyland, the over-exaggeration of individualism and how puts us on the precipice of disaster, post-’80s cultural stasis and nostalgia, the way “if it feels good, do it” led to “profits over all”, the long-term impact of the Occupy movement, and how his kids give him optimism that this can all be fixed.



“Vincit Omnia Veritas”
Truth Conquers All Things


Conspiracy Theories
a compendium of history’s greatest mysteries
and more recent cover-ups

Conspiracy Theories: A Compendium of History’s Greatest Mysteries and More Recent Cover-Ups by [Jamie King]

By Jamie King

  • Where did the Coronavirus outbreak originate and was the pandemic predicted?
  • Did aliens help to build the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza, and what were they trying to tell us?
  • Is the food industry colluding to make us addicted to sugar?

Prepare yourself for some startling revelations on these topics and many more in this updated and expanded compendium of the world’s scariest and strangest conspiracy theories.



They Knew
How a Culture of Conspiracy Keeps America Complacent

They Knew: How a Culture of Conspiracy Keeps America Complacent by [Sarah Kendzior]

By Sarah Kendzior

Conspiracy theories are on the rise because officials refuse to enforce accountability for real conspiracies. Uncritical faith in broken institutions is as dangerous as false narratives peddled by propagandists.

The truth may hurt—but the lies will kill us.



A Culture of Conspiracy
Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America

A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society Book 15) by [Michael Barkun]

By Michael Barkun

American society has changed dramatically since A Culture of Conspiracy was first published in 2001. In this revised and expanded edition, Michael Barkun delves deeper into America’s conspiracy sub-culture, exploring the rise of 9/11 conspiracy theories, the “birther” controversy surrounding Barack Obama’s American citizenship, and how the conspiracy landscape has changed with the rise of the Internet and other new media.

What do UFO believers, Christian millennialists, and right-wing conspiracy theorists have in common? 



True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks

Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks by [Patrick Radden Keefe]

By Patrick Radden Keefe

Patrick Radden Keefe has garnered prizes ranging from the National Magazine Award to the Orwell Prize to the National Book Critics Circle Award for his meticulously-reported, hypnotically-engaging work on the many ways people behave badly. Rogues brings together a dozen of his most celebrated articles from The New Yorker. As Keefe says in his preface “They reflect on some of my abiding preoccupations: crime and corruption, secrets and lies, the permeable membrane separating licit and illicit worlds, the bonds of family, the power of denial.”



The True Believer
thoughts on the nature of mass movements

By Eric Hoffer

“Its theme is political fanaticism, with which it deals severely and brilliantly.” — The New Yorker

A stevedore on the San Francisco docks in the 1940s, Eric Hoffer wrote philosophical treatises in his spare time while living in the railroad yards. The True Believer—the first and most famous of his books—was made into a bestseller when President Eisenhower cited it during one of the earliest television press conferences.

Called a “brilliant and original inquiry” and “a genuine contribution to our social thought” by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., this landmark in the field of social psychology is completely relevant and essential for understanding the world today as it delivers a visionary, highly provocative look into the mind of the fanatic and a penetrating study of how an individual becomes one.



Moonwalking with Einstein
The art and science of remembering everything

By Joshua Foer

The blockbuster phenomenon that charts an amazing journey of the mind while revolutionizing our concept of memory.

Moonwalking with Einstein recounts Joshua Foer’s yearlong quest to improve his memory under the tutelage of top “mental athletes.” He draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of remembering, and venerable tricks of the mentalist’s trade to transform our understanding of human memory. From the United States Memory Championship to deep within the author’s own mind, this is an electrifying work of journalism that reminds us that, in every way that matters:

We are the sum of our memories.



Reading Transforms Us

By Marianna Pogosyan Ph.D. — Psychology Today

How books can help us develop our key emotional and cognitive skills.



Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling

By Scott Myers

Your Protagonist, must resonate with a reader.

What that boils down to is creating a sense of empathy on the part of the reader.



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