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 received my Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego in 1974. My doctoral dissertation was done under the direction of 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 thousand articles on my website skepdic.com.

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 philosophy of religion, the history of 17th century philosophy, epistemology, skepticism, critical thinking, and the psychology of belief. I have applied these interests 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.

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

1. Critical Thinking
2. Language and Critical Thinking
3. Sources
4. Identifying Arguments
5. Evaluating Arguments 
6. Evaluating Extended Arguments 
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.

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

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. (For a review of this book by Harriet Hall, M.D. (aka The SkepDoc click here.)

The Critical Thinker's Dictionary: Biases, Fallacies, and Illusions and what you can do about them was published in 2013. An audio version of The Critical Thinker's Dictionary read by Kristen James is available from Audible.com, iTunes, and Amazon.com. (For a review of this book by Dr.Harriet Hall click here.)

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).

In May 2014 I was diagnosed with pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer (not to be confused with pancreatic adenocarcinoma: for a short description of the difference between these two types of cancers see Lauren's blog. About 5% of cancers of the pancreas are neuroendocrine. About 14.5 million Americans alive today have or have had cancer. About 120,000 of those have neuroendorine cancer and 6.4% of those are pancreatic.)

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

Last Updated 17-Oct-2015

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