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Dancing with Absurdity

Your Most Cherished Beliefs (and All Your Others) Are Probably Wrong

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Fred Leavitt

Dancing with Absurdity explores the limitations of knowledge and argues that neither reasoning nor direct observation can be trusted. Not only are they unreliable sources, they do not even justify assigning probabilities to claims about what we can know. This position, called radical skepticism, has intrigued philosophers since before the birth of Christ, yet nobody has been able to refute it.
Fred Leavitt uses two unique methods of presentation. First, he supports abstract arguments with summaries of real-life examples from many and varied fields, which make the arguments much more convincing and compelling. He cites more than 200 studies from psychology, mathematics, chaos theory, quantum mechanics, evolutionary theory, history, the corporate world, politics, the military, and current news reporting. Second, Leavitt’s writing is user-friendly, even when dealing with complex issues.
Whether answering the telephone, turning on the TV, talking with friends, or munching on an apple, we expect things to happen predictably. These expectations, paired with radical skepticism, exemplify cognitive dissonance at the highest level. Although certain of nothing, other than that we can be certain of nothing, it’s certain that readers will come to be intrigued by the problem.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Leavitt, Fred. Dancing with absurdity: your most cherished beliefs (and all your others) are probably wrong / Fred Leavitt. pages cm. — (American University studies. V, Philosophy; Vol. 219) Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Belief and doubt. 2. Philosophy—Miscellanea. 3. Life. I. Title. BD215.L36 121’.6—dc23 2014043808 ISBN 978-1-4331-2925-4 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-4539-1490-8 (e-book) ISSN 0739-6392

Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de/.

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