Parting the Veil:50 Popular Beliefs that People Think Are True

“Reality is what doesn’t go away when we stop believing in it.” Phillip K. Dick

Stories are stones. Stories form the foundations of religions, countries, and families. Stories can connect us, help us learn and retain information, create understanding and cement friendship between cultures. I just love a good story, but stories can also build walls, cast shadows, divide humanity, and turn neighbors into enemies. I don’t always believe everything I read, and neither should you.

One man who encourages rational and scientific thought is Guy P. Harrison, author of 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True. In his introduction, he writes that, “We all believe silly things. What matters is how silly and how many.” Being a little more skeptical could help us lead safer, happier, and more productive lives.

Really? By being skeptical? But aren’t skeptics cynical and negative people lacking faith and closed to the possibility of miracles? Skepticism is really just trying to think clearly. It’s making an effort to sort out lies and misperceptions. What’s negative about that? It’s a willingness to ask those hard-to-ask questions. To seek answers based on evidence and logic, rather than on hopes and dreams.

Believing is easy and can be a lot of fun. I love the idea of Sasquatch running through the woods. I want to believe there are creatures that are still wild, untamed, and undiscovered. New species are discovered all the time. Maybe there really is a giant, hairy ape that has constantly eluded capture and discovery, but why isn’t there any real evidence? There are only poor quality photos, inconclusive hair samples and molds of footprints. Footprints have been faked so many times and by so many people, that they no longer have any credibility. My wanting to believe in Bigfoot doesn’t make it true.

Being skeptical is hard and sometimes a harsh truth. I wish the Holocaust never happened. It was more than just one of history’s many bloodbaths. It was more than attempted genocide. It was the industrialization of murder, and according to Holocaust deniers, it never happened. If almost six million Jews were not killed, where did all those people go?

‘It is all a hoax perpetrated by Jews for political and economic gain, and mainstream historians are part of the fraud,’ deniers claim. Hitler wasn’t trying to eliminate Jews? All those dead bodies never piled up in pits? Are they serious? I don’t want to believe that people could do that to innocent people, but the evidence is overwhelming.

Instead of being scared, shouldn’t we strive to educate ourselves? Shouldn’t we question why television news devotes a third of air time to crime while topics such as education is given less than 2 percent? Consider the source. Question everything. Demand evidence.

It’s an amazing and beautiful universe we live in, and you can still believe that, and still try to understand it…

The Devil’s triangle? Or Heaven’s gate? Email me at [email protected] and let me know. Visit and let us know your favorite column of 2011. Looking for a great children’s book? Check out “Hobo Finds A Home” about a kitten who decided to think for himself and explore the world, written by Hobo the cat. Don’t be skeptical, just read it and see…

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