Michael Shermer quotes

  • Science is not a thing. It's a verb. It's a way of thinking about things. It's a way of looking for natural explanations for all phenomena.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Thinking #Way #Verbs

  • Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Smart #Believe #People

  • I’m a skeptic not because I do not want to believe, but because I want to know. How can we tell the difference between what we would like to be true and what is actually true? The answer is science.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Believe #Differences #Answers

  • Religious faith depends on a host of social, psychological and emotional factors that have little or nothing to do with probabilities, evidence and logic.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Faith #Religious #Emotional

  • I’m a skeptic not because I do not want to believe, but because I want to know.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Believe #Want #Skeptic

  • Either the soul survives death or it does not, and there is no scientific evidence that it does.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Soul #Doe #Evidence

  • Darwin matters because evolution matters. Evolution matters because science matters. Science matters because it is the preeminent story of our age, an epic saga about who we are, where we came from and where we are going.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Epic #Age #Stories

  • Humans are pattern-seeking story-telling animals, and we are quite adept at telling stories about patterns, whether they exist or not.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Animal #Stories #Patterns

  • The recent medical controversy over whether vaccinations cause autism reveals a habit of human cognition—thinking anecdotally comes naturally, whereas thinking scientifically does not.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Thinking #Autism #Cognition

  • There are many sources of spirituality; religion may be the most common, but it is by no means the only. Anything that generates a sense of awe may be a source of spirituality. Science does this in spades.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Mean #May #Doe

  • I just witnessed an event so mysterious that it shook my skepticism.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Events #Mysterious #Skepticism

  • Myths are stories that express meaning, morality or motivation. Whether they are true or not is irrelevant.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Motivational #Stories #Morality

  • But the power of science lies in open publication, which, with the rise of the Internet, is no longer constrained by the price of paper.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Lying #Science #Paper

  • Myths are about the human struggle to deal with the great passages of time and life--birth, death, marriage, the transitions from childhood to adulthood to old age. They meet a need in the psychological or spiritual nature of humans that has absolutely nothing to do with science. To try to turn a myth into a science, or a science into a myth, is an insult to myths, an insult to religion, and an insult to science. In attempting to do this, creationists have missed the significance, meaning, and sublime nature of myths. They took a beautiful story of creation and re-creation and ruined it.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Beautiful #Spiritual #Struggle

  • Skepticism is not a position; skepticism is an approach to claims, in the same way that science is not a subject but a method.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Way #Method #Claims

  • Plato wove historical fact into literary myth.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Plato #Historical #Facts

  • One, I am skeptical of the effectiveness of nutritional supplements.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Effectiveness #Skeptical #Supplements

  • Mammals are sentient beings that want to live and are afraid to die. Evolution vouchsafed us all with an instinct to survive, reproduce and flourish.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Want #Mammals #Evolution

  • In the long run, it is better to understand the way the world really is rather than how we would like it to be.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Running #Long #World

  • Scientific prayer makes God a celestial lab rat, leading to bad science and worse religion.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Prayer #Religion #Labs

  • But because we live in an age of science, we have a preoccupation with corroborating our myths.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Science #Age #Preoccupation

  • For solving a surprisingly large and varied number of problems, crowds are smarter than individuals.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Numbers #Crowds #Problem

  • The reason is that in a group, individual errors on either side of the true figure cancel each other out.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Errors #Sides #Groups

  • Anecdotal thinking comes naturally; science requires training.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Science #Thinking #Training

  • Being a skeptic just means being rational and empirical: thinking and seeing before believing.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Believe #Mean #Thinking

  • But there is only one surefire method of proper pattern recognition, and that is science.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Science #Patterns #Recognition

  • In principle, skeptics are neither closed-minded nor cynical. We are curious but cautious.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Cynical #Principles #Curious

  • Human history is highly nonlinear and unpredictable.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Nonlinear #Unpredictable #Humans

  • Flawed as they may be, science and the secular Enlightenment values expressed in Western democracies are our best hope for survival.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Survival #Enlightenment #Democracy

  • The first-cause and prime-mover argument, brilliantly proffered by St. Thomas Aquinas in the fourteenth century (and brilliantly refuted by David Hume in the eighteenth century), is easily turned aside with just one more question: Who or what caused and moved God?
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Thinking #Firsts #Causes

  • No single discovery from any of these fields denotes proof of evolution, but together they reveal that life evolved in a certain sequence by a particular process.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Discovery #Together #Fields

  • ...there ... remains a huge following [of Ayn Rand's philosophy] of those who ignore the indiscretions, infidelities, and moral inconsistencies of the founder and focus instead on the positive aspects of her philosophy. There is much in it to admire, if you do not have to accept the whole package... Criticism of the founder or followers of a philosophy does not, by itself, constitute a negation of any part of the philosophy... Criticism of part of a philosophy does not gainsay the whole.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Philosophy #Thinking #Focus

  • The human capacity for self-delusion is boundless, and the effects of belief are overpowering.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Self #Belief #Capacity

  • It is sad that while science moves ahead in exciting new areas of research, fine-tuning our knowledge of how life originated and evolved, creationists remain mired in medieval debates about angels on the head of a pin and animals in the belly of an Ark.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Moving #Angel #Animal

  • As Enlightenment philosophers and scholars consciously adopted the methods of science to establish such abstract concepts as rights, liberty, and justice, successive generations have become schooled in thinking of these abstractions as applied to others in matrices-like mental rotations.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Thinking #Rights #Justice

  • ... In a free society, skeptics are the watchdogs against irrationalism - the consumer advocates of ideas. Debunking is not simply the divestment of bunk; its utility is in offering a better alternative, along with a lesson on how thinking goes wrong.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Thinking #Ideas #Offering

  • What can be more soul shaking than peering through a 100-inch telescope at a distant galaxy, holding a 100-million-year-old fossil or a 500,000-year-old stone tool in one's hand, standing before the immense chasm of space and time that is the Grand Canyon, or listening to a scientist who gazed upon the face of the universe's creation and did not blink?
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Spring #Hands #Years

  • Skepticism is not a position; it's a process.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Process #Skepticism #Position

  • Belief is the natural state of things. It is the default option. We just believe. We believe all sorts of things. Belief is natural; disbelief, skepticism, science, is not natural.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Motivation #Inspiration #Believe

  • no such individual would find the Golden Rule surprising in any way because at its base lies the foundation of most human interactions and exchanges and it can be found in countless texts throughout recorded history and from around the world--a testimony to its universality.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Lying #World #Golden

  • Believers can have both religion and science as long as there is no attempt to make A non-A, to make reality unreal, to turn naturalism into supernaturalism. (125)
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Reality #Long #Science And Religion

  • We think of our eyes as video cameras and our brains as blank tapes to be filled with sensory inputs.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Eye #Thinking #Games

  • How can we find spiritual meaning in a scientific worldview? Spirituality is a way of being in the world, a sense of one’s place in the cosmos, a relationship to that which extends beyond oneself. . . . Does scientific explanation of the world diminish its spiritual beauty? I think not. Science and spirituality are complementary, not conflicting; additive, not detractive. Anything that generates a sense of awe may be a source of spirituality. Science does this in spades. (158-159)
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Spiritual #Thinking #Cosmos

  • Perceiving the world as well designed and thus the product of a designer, and even seeing divine providence in the daily affairs of life, may be the product of a brain adapted to finding patterns in nature. (38)
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Brain #World #May

  • ...evolution is not a religious tenet, to which one swears allegiance or belief as a matter of faith.. It is a factual reality of the empirical world. Just as one would not say 'I believe in gravity," one should not proclaim 'I believe in evolution.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Religious #Believe #Reality

  • Myths, whether in written or visual form, serve a vital role of asking unanswerable questions and providing unquestionable answers. Most of us, most of the time, have a low tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. We want to reduce the cognitive dissonance of not knowing by filling the gaps with answers. Traditionally, religious myths have served that role, but today — the age of science — science fiction is our mythology.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Religious #Knowing #Tolerance

  • Accepting evolution does not force us to jettison our morals and ethics, and rejecting evolution does not ensure their constancy.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Doe #Moral #Ethics

  • In comparison, Google is brilliant because it uses an algorithm that ranks Web pages by the number of links to them, with those links themselves valued by the number of links to their page of origin.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Numbers #Google #Algorithms

  • When alien abductees recount to me their stories, I do not deny that they had a real experience.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Real #Ethos #Stories

  • We do not just blindly concede control to authorities; instead we follow the cues provided by our moral communities on how best to behave.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Community #Moral #Authority

  • Skepticism is not a position that you stake out ahead of time and stick to no matter what.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Matter #Sticks #Stakes

  • Providentially, learned habits can be unlearned, especially in the context of moral groups.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Groups #Moral #Habit

  • Dualists hold that body and soul are separate entities and that the soul will continue beyond the existence of the physical body.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Soul #Body #Entity

  • People have a hard time accepting free-market economics for the same reason they have a hard time accepting evolution: it is counterintuitive. Life looks intelligently designed, so our natural inclination is to infer that there must be an intelligent designer--a God. Similarly, the economy looks designed, so our natural inclination is to infer that we need a designer--a government. In fact, emergence and complexity theory explains how the principles of self-organization and emergence cause complex systems to arise from simple systems without a top-down designer.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Hard Times #Intelligent #Simple

  • Conspiracies are a perennial favorite for television producers because there is always a receptive audience.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Television #Conspiracy #Producers

  • Through no divine design or cosmic plan, we have inherited the mantle of life's caretaker on the earth, the only home we have ever known.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Home #Design #Earth

  • Because of the complexity of the problem, environmental skepticism was once tenable. No longer. It is time to flip from skepticism to activism.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Environmental #Flip #Global Warming

  • Scientists like Bjorn Lomborg in The Skeptical Environmentalist have, in my opinion, properly nailed environmental extremists for these exaggerated scenarios.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Environmental #Opinion #Global Warming

  • Believing that the rustle in the grass is a dangerous predator when it is only the wind does not cost much, but believing that a dangerous predator is the wind may cost an animal its life.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Believe #Animal #Wind

  • We know evolution happened because innumerable bits of data from myriad fields of science conjoin to paint a rich portrait of life's pilgrimage.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Data #Fields #Portraits

  • The whole point of faith, in fact, is to believe regardless of the evidence, which is the very antithesis of science.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Atheist #Believe #Facts

  • Ultimately all hominids came from Africa, and therefore everyone in America should simply check the box next to 'African-American.' My maternal grandmother was German and my maternal grandfather was Greek. The next time I fill out one of those forms I am going to check 'Other' and write in the truth about my racial and cultural heritage: 'African-Greek-German-American.' And proud of it.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Writing #Grandmother #Thinking

  • In science , all conclusions are provisional, subject to new evidence and better arguments, the very antithesis of religious faith.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Faith #Religious #Argument

  • The concept of God is generated by a brain designed by evolution to find design in nature (a very recursive idea).
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Ideas #Design #Brain

  • So, of course, Gish's presentation was well received, which it would have been the case had he only gotten up and said "praise the Lord" and sat back down.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Atheism #Praise #Lord

  • The evening was very professionally organized, and most of the people were exceptionally polite, although it did make me a little nervous when one church official told me after the debate when a big crowd of people surrounded me that he had assigned me a body guard "just in case." Just in case what? I thought Christians were suppose to be exceptionally tolerant. Well, in any case, I guess I was grateful for the gesture, "just in case."
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Christian #Grateful #People

  • A Hubble Space Telescope photograph of the universe evokes far more awe for creation than light streaming through a stained glass window in a cathedral.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Glasses #Light #Space

  • 'Are science and religion compatible?' It's like [asking]: 'Are science and plumbing compatible?' They're just two different things.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #God #Two #Soul

  • The actual atoms and molecules that make up my brain and body today are not the same ones that I was born with on September 8, 1954, a half-century ago this month.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Brain #Molecules #Atoms

  • I care what is actually true, even more than what I hope is true.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Truth #Care #I Care

  • We're all talking about the same thing, whether it's religious people or New Age spiritual people or Buddhists or scientists. We're all talking about having a sense of awe and wonder at something grander than ourselves.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Spiritual #Religious #Buddhist

  • My thesis is that morality exists outside the human mind in the sense of being not just a trait of individual humans, but a human trait; that is, a human universal.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Mind #Morality #Individual

  • Science is not the affirmation of a set of beliefs but a process of inquiry aimed at building a testable body of knowledge constantly open to rejection or confirmation. In science, knowledge is fluid and certainty fleeting. That is at the heart of its limitations. It is also its greatest strength.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Heart #Rejection #Inquiry

  • Creationists have also changed their name ... to intelligent design theorists who study 'irreducible complexity' and the 'abrupt appearance' of life-yet more jargon for 'God did it.' ... Notice that they have no interest in replacing evolution with native American creation myths or including the Code of Hammarabi alongside the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #School #Native American #Intelligent

  • Rationality tied to moral decency is the most powerful joint instrument for good that our planet has ever known.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Powerful #Joints #Moral

  • We want to be open-minded enough to accept radial new ideas when they occasionally come along, but we don't want to be so open-minded that our brains fall out.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Fall #Ideas #Brain

  • Mysteries once thought to be supernatural or paranormal happenings - such as astronomical or meteorological events - are incorporated into science once their causes are understood.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Causes #Events #Mystery

  • As Karl Marx once noted: 'Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.' William Jennings Bryan and the Scopes trial was a tragedy. The creationists and intelligent design theorists are a farce.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Intelligent #Design #Historical

  • Play hard, work hard, love hard. . . .The bottom line for me is to live life to the fullest in the here-and-now instead of a hoped-for hereafter, and make every day count in some meaningful way and do something-no matter how small it is-to make the world a better place.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Meaningful #Atheist #Live Life

  • Machine intelligence of a human nature could be a century away, and immortality is at least a millennium away, if not unattainable altogether.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Machines #Unattainable #Human Nature

  • Science is a set of methods designed to describe and interpret observed or inferred phenomenon, past or present, and aimed at building a testable body of knowledge open to rejection or confirmation.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Past #Rejection #Religion

  • We know evolution happened not because of transitional fossils such as A. natans but because of the convergence of evidence from such diverse fields as geology, paleontology, biogeography, comparative anatomy and physiology, molecular biology, genetics, and many more.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Paleontology #Molecular Biology #Fields

  • Remember always that we are pattern-seeking primates who are especially adept at finding patterns with emotional meaning.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Emotional #Religion #Atheism

  • Intelligent Design is a remarkably uncreative theory that abandons the search for understanding at the very point where it is most needed. If Intelligent Design is really a science, then the burden is on its scientists to discover the mechanisms used by the Intelligent Designer. (80)
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Intelligent #Design #Understanding

  • People believe in God because we are pattern-seeking, storytelling, mythmaking, religious, moral animals.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Religious #Atheist #Believe

  • The price of liberty is, in addition to eternal vigilance, eternal patience with the vacuous blather occasionally expressed from behind the shield of free speech.
    -- Michael Shermer

    #Liberty #Speech #Libertarian