14 Weird Things People Believe Are True
In 1997, author Michael Shermer released the book, Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time. The excellent book dives deep into fascinating theories and beliefs that people hold. While 1997 feels like a long time ago, Shermer’s book and views are more relevant now than ever.
The Internet allows individuals to learn fringe beliefs and strange conspiracy theories. These theories find their way onto message boards, forums, and social media, transforming an idea from the Internet’s dark corners into mainstream news. Many people still believe the events and theories outlined in Shermer’s book, while new wild ideas and beliefs have emerged, such as voter fraud at the 2020 American elections and the 9/11 conspiracy.
We’ve gathered some of the weird things people believe and listed them below to show just how many strange ideas there are out there that folks are willing to believe.
14 Weird Things People Believe Are True
1. The Holocaust Didn’t Happen
Between 1941 and 1945, Nazi Germany murdered six million Jewish people through mass shootings, extermination camps, gas vans, and gas chambers. To combat the negativity surrounding their murderous ways, Nazi Germany started to plant doubt about the Holocaust through the use of propaganda during World War II.
Maurice Bardèche was the first writer to deny the Holocaust in the years after the war. He established many of the ideas Holocaust deniers still believe. These people claim Nazi Germany deported Jewish people instead of killing them. Others claim the Holocaust was a hoax and there were no gas chambers, extermination camps, or mass shootings. Despite providing hard evidence to many Holocaust deniers, they refute what is presented. Historians credit Holocaust denial with the rise of Neo-Nazism on the modern world.
2. Alien Abductions
In the 1960s and 70s, the alien abduction phenomenon began spreading across the United States. Individuals claimed that aliens kidnapped them, taking them onboard their spaceships. With mind control, the aliens would conduct various experiments on each human subject, including interspecies breeding. After warning the captured human about the dangers of the world, they would then drop them back to Earth.
Most of these claims occur in English-speaking countries, notably the United States. Skeptics note the rise in abduction began after science fiction movies like 1953’s Invaders From Mars aired on television. UFO abductions often share similarities with numerous sci-fi movies, with author Michael Shermer proposing the decline in UFO sightings and kidnappings decreased due to cell phone cameras. Scientists believe many abductees are deceitful, while others suffer from false memory syndrome and sleep paralysis. That said, there are still many who believe in the existence of aliens.
3. Scientific Racism
Throughout history, the discredited idea of scientific racism has existed in one form or another. Also known as racial superiority, it divides humankind into groups based on biology and supposed hard evidence relating to mental and physical traits.
From 1600 to the end of World War II, scientific racism was an accepted belief and concept. In the late 1890s, the United States upheld segregation laws based on scientific racism. It played a role in Nazi Germany’s treatment and mass murder of the Jewish population during World War II. Despite being discredited, the theory still exists in certain circles that use it to justify racism and discrimination.
4. The Omega Point
In the 1920s, a French priest proposed the concept of the Omega Point. This idea was taken further by mathematician and physicist Frank Tipler, who claimed to have proven the theory with several books and papers in the 1990s. The Omega Point attempts to combine science with religion by claiming the universe is spiraling to a future event where an all-powerful force collapses all universes into one.
According to Tipler, this future society can resurrect the dead and time travel. Critics dismiss the idea as pseudoscience, claiming the proponents of the concept use scientific language to explain a religious idea to validate the claim. The reason most people dismiss this theory is because those who believe can’t provide any hard evidence that The Omega Point exists.
5. Mind Reading
Since the 19th century, several individuals have claimed they can read a person’s mind or thoughts. Despite exposing many of these people as frauds, the concept of mind reading is still prevalent.
Better known as telepathy, it’s the belief that one person’s thoughts can transfer to another without physical interaction or communication. For over a hundred years, scientists have attempted to prove that mind reading is real but have never been able to provide sufficient evidence. Check out Scanners if you want a great movie based on this idea.
6. Breaking a Mirror
Breaking a mirror is one of the most popular superstitions. In the present day, the belief is if a person breaks a mirror, they’ll have bad luck for seven years. The breaking a mirror theory dates back to Ancient Greece and Rome.
The Greeks and Romans believed the gods observed their souls through reflective surfaces. To damage the mirror was considered disrespectful to the gods. The Romans added that the bad luck would last seven years. The superstition continues today and is often used to explain a person’s bad luck.
7. Satanic Panic
The Satanic ritual abuse scare spread rapidly throughout the 1980s and 1990s. It’s still around today but in a new form. It began in the United States with the release of Michelle Remembers in 1980. The now-discredited book used the controversial practice of recovered-memory therapy to recount Satanic rituals and child sex abuse at the hands of a supposed occult. Suddenly, claims of Satanic ritual abuse popped up nationwide, notably in preschools.
The Satanic panic resulted in roughly 12,000 cases but no convictions or evidence that a Satanic cult existed. The idea has morphed into the core belief of the QAnon conspiracy theory. The theory claims a global Satanic cult consisting of the elite and powerful abducts children for sex trafficking and human sacrifices. Like the Satanic ritual abuse scare, critics debunked the QAnon theory, although it still has many followers, with many of the people behind the US Capital invasion believers.
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8. Wishful Thinking
There are times when life is tough and dragging us down. During those times, it’s important to stay positive but grounded. Wishful thinking uses imagination to create pleasant and happy scenarios around what might be. It really got big in 2006 when Rhonda Byrne released the self-help book The Secret.
Most experts agree wishful thinking is flawed, lacking realistic evidence or rational thought. It’s a cognitive bias that assumes something to be true or false just because a person wishes it to be. Wishful thinking can cause problems when a situation doesn’t unfold as imagined with different obstacles arising and causing more problems.
Irrationalism rejects reason, logic, and rational thought. People who believe propose that their feelings, faith, and instincts are foremost to reason and knowledge. The philosophical movement of organized irrationalism first appeared in the 19th century and suggests that humans are not instinctively rational.
Proponents of irrationalism claim rational thought is not beneficial to life since certain situations go beyond logical thinking. Critics and experts dismiss the concept as deeply flawed and lacking logic.
The term “cult“ is usually associated with a group of people who follow and adore a charismatic leader who controls the group through practices and beliefs outside the usual standards. Many cult leaders get their followers to do their dirty work and keep their hands clean. Cults break down into several groups, such as doomsday cults, racist cults, political cults, anti-cult movements, and other groups.
The best-known examples are Jim Jones leading the People’s Temple and Charles Manson with his Manson Family. It can also apply to new religious movements within a dominant religion. Additionally, groups with unique philosophical, religious, and spiritual beliefs are known as cults as well. Check out some of the wild active cults still surviving today.
11. Flat Earth
During Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, the concept of a spherical Earth became commonplace in the Old World. Up to that point, many still believed in a flat Earth. Despite centuries of undeniable evidence, the pseudoscience concept of the Earth being flat is still prevalent. Flat Earthers doubt the evidence and often tie in a conspiracy theory to explain governments, media, schools, airlines, and scientists agreeing that the world is a sphere, not a flat disc.
In most circles, scholars and academics dismiss Russian American writer Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism. After writing two successful novels, Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Rand focused on expanding her theory of Objectivism.
She claims that men (and women) exist to make themselves happy. In the real world, Rand’s philosophy often leads individuals to manipulate people for selfish reasons to attain their goals regardless of the cost. It allows immoral individuals to operate without consequences for their actions, believing that what they doing is ok because of their belief. Objectivism is often popular with Libertarianism, Conservatives, and young minds.
13. Edgar Cayce Predictions
Edgar Cayce claimed to be a clairvoyant who would enter a trance-like state and answer questions on various topics, often making bold predictions about the world. He began recording his sessions in the 1920s, offering services to those in need. At the time, Cayce had many famous supporters, including Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Edison. They truly believed his predictions no matter how wild they seemed.
Cayce was a strong believer in the existence of Atlantis and aliens. In the 1930s, he predicted that Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York would destroy themselves, plunging into chaos and mayhem. His boldest prediction was the return of Jesus Christ in 1998, which as we all know, never occurred.
Creationism is a theory that essentially ignores all scientific evidence about evolution. These people believe a supernatural or divine force created the Earth and human life. It also promotes pseudoscientific creation science, which reinterprets the Bible and attempts to validate the myth and supernatural elements scientifically. Without any evidence to support the claim, Creationism takes religious texts and adds supernatural elements to explain things they can’t.