Only a few minutes down the road from where I live, there is a museum dedicated to the idea that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that it was created in six twenty-four hour days. The basis for this idea is the Book of Genesis in the Bible. According to a sign near the entrance: if this isn’t true, nothing else about the Bible can be true. I have issues with this supposition; however, arguing against it is not the point of this post or of this blog. In the spring and summer, I enjoy going to the museum to walk around the outside gardens, they are quite beautiful.
Will Storr’s book The Unpersuadables: Adventures With the Enemies of Science is a rather unique journalistic approach to those who hold to certain beliefs even when the facts seemingly say otherwise. Among others, he interviews prominent figures associated with this museum. Storr doesn’t limit his research to creationism, though. Beliefs in reincarnation, faith-healing, and extraterrestrial life are examples of ideas Storr also explores.
I was surprised to find how well Storr seemed to get along with most of the people he gets to know while conducting this project. He makes no mistake in letting them know his thoughts and ideas and usually they do not align with their beliefs. In true journalistic fashion, he is able to put his beliefs on hold in attempting to get to the root of why people will believe something that seems to be so easy to disprove. Storr seems to exude a trustworthiness in spite of his disagreements.
If one is looking for hard cold reasons to disprove creation, reincarnation or UFO’s, this book probably isn’t going to be it. I’m sure there are a number of other books out there that attempt to do that. Sociologically and psychologically, however, Storr makes some headway in understanding what he would call this “phenomenon” of belief. If one is interested in that, this is fascinating reading.