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Scientific American

Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the host of the Science Salon Podcast, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101. For 18 years he was a monthly columnist for Scientific American. He is the author of New York Times bestsellers Why People Believe Weird Things and The Believing Brain, Why Darwin Matters, The Science of Good and Evil, and The Moral Arc. His new book is Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality & Utopia.

Giving the Devil His Due

Reflections of a Scientific Humanist

Who is the “Devil”? And what is he due? The devil is anyone who disagrees with you. And what he is due is the right to speak his mind. He must have this for your own safety’s sake, because his freedom is inextricably tied to your own. If he can be censored, why shouldn’t you be censored? If we put barriers up to silence “unpleasant” ideas, what’s to stop the silencing of any discussion? This book is a full-throated defense of free speech and open inquiry in politics, science, and culture by the New York Times bestselling author and skeptic Michael Shermer. The new collection of essays and articles takes the devil by the horns by tackling five key themes: free thought and free speech, politics and society, scientific humanism, religion, and the ideas of controversial intellectuals. For our own sake, we must give the devil his due.

Praise for Giving the Devil His Due

“Michael Shermer is our most fearless explorer of alternative, crackpot, and dangerous ideas, and at the same time one of our most powerful voices for science, sanity, and humane values. In this engrossing collection, Shermer shows why these missions are consistent: it’s the searchlight of reason that best exposes errors and evil.”

— STEVEN PINKER, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

“As always, Michael Shermer is hard-hitting, thought-provoking, and brilliant. The fascinating essays in this wide-ranging book will make you think – and then rethink.”

—AMY CHUA, Yale Law Professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations

“Michael Shermer is the voice of reason, and this is a book of his best essays — the ones we most need to read to understand the madness of our time and to imagine a more reasonable future. The range of questions Shermer addresses and the breadth of his knowledge make this book a delight to read.”

—JONATHAN HAIDT, New York University, author of The Righteous Mind, Co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind

“In Giving the Devil His Due, Michael Shermer provides a detailed roadmap for thinking well and clearly about interesting and challenging ideas. This vivid, erudite, broad, and deep collection of essays is marvelously written, so much so that, as you finish one essay, you cannot resist starting the next. And the range — from ancient civilizations to the colonization of Mars, from free speech on campus to gun control in cities, is as astonishing as it is engaging.”

—NICHOLAS A. CHRISTAKIS, MD, PhD, author of Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

“Michael Shermer is a fearless defender of free speech, open inquiry, and freedom of thought and conscience, including and especially for those with whom he disagrees, and Giving the Devil His Due is one of the strongest bulwarks against the tyranny of censorship that I have read.”

—NADINE STROSSEN, Professor, New York Law School, former president of the ACLU, author of Hate: Why We Should Resist it with Free Speech, Not Censorship

“This is a rather difficult book for me to blurb, given that an entire chapter is devoted to criticizing my claims about pragmatic truth vis a vis scientific truth. However, Dr. Michael Shermer is a very clear thinker, and the kind of skeptic that is always necessary to ensure that public thought, scientific and otherwise, maintains a certain clarity. He's a passionate advocate of free speech, for this and many other reasons — to the point of entitling his new book Giving the Devil His Due, which is devoted to many worthwhile topics, but to free speech above all. Despite our disagreements, this is a necessary book for our times. Read it. And thank God and the powers that be that you have the right to do so.”

—DR. JORDAN B PETERSON, Professor of Psychology University of Toronto, Author of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Pre-order the book for April 30, 2020
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Learn about Dr. Michael Shermer's new Audible Original Course on Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories

What We Should and Shouldn’t Believe — and Why

Audible Inc., the world’s largest producer and provider of downloadable audiobooks and other spoken-word entertainment, in conjunction with The Great Courses, is creating audio-only, non-fiction content for Audible’s millions of listeners. The first three titles include Dr. Michael Shermer’s new and original course on: Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories: What We Should Believe and Why.

Learn more about this new course

Michael’s Articles

Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion (ACDF) or, My Big Bike Crash and Surgical Adventure

The following is a PSA-type video for anyone contemplating having this type of surgery, as well as to those who have inquired why I have a slash across my neck. No I didn’t have a run-in with ISIS or Dr. Frankenstein. I had a near-catastrophic cycling crash whose injuries triggered CT scans and an MRI, which revealed a chronic degeneration of three of my neck vertebrate and ensuing surgery.

Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories: What We Should and Shouldn’t Believe—and Why

Audible Inc., the world’s largest producer and provider of downloadable audiobooks and other spoken-word entertainment, in conjunction with The Great Courses, is creating audio-only, non-fiction content for Audible’s millions of listeners. The first three titles include Dr. Michael Shermer’s new and original course on: Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories: What We Should Believe and Why. Order […]

Free to Inquire

A book chapter for the The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy (December 26, 2018), edited by David Boonin.

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Michael’s “Skeptic” column in Scientific American

Stein’s Law and Science’s Mission

January 2019: In his 214th consecutive and final ‘Skeptic’ column for Scientific American, Michael Shermer reflects on what science brings to the human project.

Kids These Days

In his December 2018 ‘Skeptic’ column for Scientific American Michael Shermer discusses how to avert a looming crisis among today’s youth.

The Fallacy of Excluded Exceptions

In his November 2018 ‘Skeptic’ column for Scientific American Michael Shermer explains the allegedly spooky coincidences associated with some famous films like Poltergeist, The Exorcist, The Omen, and The Crow.

A Mysterious Change of Mind

In his October 2018 ‘Skeptic’ column for Scientific American Michael Shermer considers why suicide is a leading cause of death in the US.

Abortion Facts

In his September 2018 ‘Skeptic’ column for Scientific American Michael Shermer avers that when women are educated and have access to birth-control technologies, pregnancies and, eventually, abortions decrease

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