How trying to solve death makes life, here and now, worse

Maybe we should stop worrying about what happens after we die, and make the best of what we have on earth right now.

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  • The concept of the afterlife, argues Michael Shermer, take away from appreciating what we have right in front of us.
  • Why be afraid of death? 100 billion humans have died before us. It's part of the process.
  • Maybe that '80s song was right... maybe heaven really is a place on earth.
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Utopia is a dangerous ideal: we should aim for ‘protopia’

Utopias are idealised visions of a perfect society. Utopianisms are those ideas put into practice. This is where the trouble begins. 

A photo dated November 13, 1991, shows a worker removing the head of a statue representing late Soviet leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin during its demolition on the Leninplatz in Berlin. (Photo: ANDREAS ALTWEIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs

Utopias are idealised visions of a perfect society. Utopianisms are those ideas put into practice. This is where the trouble begins. Thomas More coined the neologism utopia for his 1516 work that launched the modern genre for a good reason. The word means ‘no place’ because when imperfect humans attempt perfectibility – personal, political, economic and social – they fail. Thus, the dark mirror of utopias are dystopias – failed social experiments, repressive political regimes, and overbearing economic systems that result from utopian dreams put into practice. 

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How skepticism can fight radicalism, conspiracy theorists, and Holocaust deniers

Why have some conspiracy theories been pushed back into the public? Because when you try to force them out of the mainstream, they'll find a wider audience on the fringes.

Politics & Current Affairs

Liberal college students have taken to shouting down certain right-leaning speakers on campus that they don't agree with. Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic Magazine, thinks that is the worst thing you can do. He posits that all you do when you prevent someone from speaking is make certain people want to hear them more. This has led to the rise of the conspiracy theorists and why fringe ideas—from something as silly as flat-earth believers to something as morally reprehensible as Nazism and Holocaust deniers—have been pushed back into the mainstream. Michael's new book is Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia.

How we know right from wrong without God or religion

Do we really need an imaginary guy-in-the-sky to tell us what's right and wrong? Not anymore, says Skeptic Magazine's Michael Shermer.

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Do we really need God or religion to tell us what's right and wrong? Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic Magazine, says that this kind of celestial-spiritual guidance really isn't necessary. Or particularly effective. He makes a great case for being a moral realist — for example, studying past examples of war or slavery to learn morals from them — is much more effective than going back to mysticism like, say, The Bible, a fantastical book written by committee some 2,000 years ago and hardly updated since. Michael's new book is Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia.