Why do we believe weird things?

Fake news, misinformation, disinformation, these concepts are all over the media. What’s frustrating about that, is it is becoming more and more difficult to know the truth. Skeptic.com’s Michael Shermer and famous debunker, gives us a bit of cognitive insight into why we believe weird things.  He explains and demonstrates how things like priming and cognitive bias are natural neurological predispositions that leads us to faulty conclusions. This discussion utilizes vocabulary in both pure science and psychology to demonstrate, in very cool ways, how media can create what I will term “information blind spots.”

***Caution! I did this lesson with a high intermediate student and she was overwhelmed with Shermer’s speed. I would recommend scaffolding the video with the pre discussion.

Pre discussion

  • What makes you trust/distrust information?
  • What elements of a message leads you to conclude it’s true?
  • Do you anything about visual illusion?
  • Do you know anything about auditory illusion?

The Video: Why People Believe Weird Things


  • Cut the video up into at least two segments and do a Tell Back
  • What makes us believe weird things…make a Mind Map of all the elements you hear?
  • What do the skeptics do that help them debunk fake news?