A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies

Biographical Information
Robert T. Carroll, Ph.D.

Bob Carroll - October 2014I was a full-time teacher in the philosophy department at Sacramento City College from 1977 until my retirement in 2007. I served as chairman for several years and taught a variety of classes. I received my Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego in 1974.

I began investigating controversial beliefs about 50 years ago and posted my first articles on the Internet more than 20 years ago. My main research interests have been in epistemology, skepticism, critical thinking, and the psychology of belief. I have applied these intererests to a wide range of topics. I am interested not only in what people believe, but why we believe what we do. I am especially interested in the cognitive biases and logical fallacies that unconsciously drive much human thinking on subjects we care most passionately about.

I taught classes in Logic & Critical Reasoning; Law, Justice, & PunishmentCritical Thinking About the Paranormal; Introduction to Philosophy; History of Modern Philosophy; and World Religions. I also taught courses in Ethics, Symbolic Logic, and the Philosophy of Religion.

My doctoral dissertation was done under the direction of the eminent historian of skepticism Richard H. Popkin and was entitled The Common-Sense Philosophy of Religion of Bishop Edward Stillingfleet (1635-1699). It was published by Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, in 1975. I began publishing on the WWW in 1994. Since then I have posted several thousands of articles on my website skepdic.com.

My textbook Becoming a Critical Thinker was published by Pearson in 2000. A second edition was published in 2005. The following chapters are available online for free:

1. Critical Thinking
2. Language and Critical Thinking
3. Sources
7. Sampling and Analogical Reasoning
8. Causal Reasoning
9. Science and Pseudoscience
Answers to Selected Exercises (note ch. 4 graphs are incomplete)

Also available for free download are booklets I wrote to help students develop their study and writing skills: Student Success Guide: Study Skills and Student Success Guide: Writing Skills.

The Skeptic's Dictionary was published in August 2003 by John Wiley & Sons. For more information on how that book came about click here and read the preface and introduction to the book.

A Skeptic's Dictionary for Kids (for kids 9 and up) was published online on July 22, 2011. On December 2, 2012, that book was published as Mysteries and Science: Exploring Aliens, Ghosts, Monsters, the End of the World and Other Weird Things.

The E-book is also available for from Barnes & Noble for Nook.

Unnatural Acts: Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science Exposed! was published in 2011 as an eBook by the James Randi Educational Foundation and is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble for the Nook, and from iTunes for the iPad.

Harriet Hall, M.D. (aka The SkepDoc) reviewed Unnatural Acts for Skeptical Inquier magazine. The paperback edition is available from Lulu.com and Amazon.

The Critical Thinker's Dictionary: Biases, Fallacies, and Illusions and what you can do about them was published in 2013. The Critical Thinker's Dictionary grew out of Unnatural Acts That Can Improve Your Thinking, a blog that followed up on Unnatural Acts and is archived here. The Amazon "Look Inside" feature provides a good overview of The Critical Thinker's Dictionary. The e-book for the Nook is available from Barnes & Noble and the print edition (348 pages) is availble from Lulu.

An audio version of The Critical Thinker's Dictionary read by Kristen James is available from Audible.com, iTunes, and Amazon.com.

Dr.Harriet Hall reviewed The Critical Thinker's Dictionary on the Science-Based Medicine blog.

Unnatural Virtue is a podcast segment I began doing in 2012 for Skepticality, the official podcast of Skeptic magazine. Episodes are archived here.

I was invited by James Randi to speak at the first Amazing Meeting in 2003 and to conduct a workshop on critical thinking at the 5th meeting in 2007. In 2003 I gave an invited talk at the CSICOP conference on Frauds and Hoaxes. In 2004 I gave a talk to the Irish Skeptics in Dublin, Ireland, on the subject of the scientific proof for the paranormal. In 2010, I was elected a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).

For more information about me, see my FAQ and Interviews page.

Last Updated 05-Mar-2015

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