Guy P. Harrison

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Guy P. Harrison

Guy P. Harrison (born October 8, 1963) is an American author of multiple bestselling books. He resides in the United States and is known for his written works on science, critical thinking, anthropology, history, race, and nature.

Quotes[edit]

  • “Find joy in existence. We live in good times. Now is somewhere between the beginning and the end of everything. . . . Collectively and individually, we must never stop exploring, imagining, experimenting, learning, and solving problems. This should not be difficult for any of us, because it is only human to do these things. This is who we are. It was the way of those remarkable Africans not so long ago in prehistory, and it can be your way now. The closer you look, the more you will see. The more you learn, the more alive and awake you will become.”

At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life (Prometheus Books, 2018)


  • "We all believe silly things. What matters is how silly and how many."

50 Popular Beliefs That People Think are True (Prometheus Books, 2012)


  • “We do not see the world. We watch internal movies about the world.

“What Everyone Needs to Understand About Human Vision” Psychology Today (October 16, 2021)


  • “You are not the sum of your Google searches, Amazon purchases, and Facebook likes. Your online activities should not define you as a person. But, increasingly, they do.”

Think Before You Like: Social Media's Effect on the Brain and the Tools You Need to Navigate Your Newsfeed (Prometheus Books, 2017)


  • “The basic understanding of evolution that I carry around in my head enhances my life. I’ve done night dives in the Caribbean, 130 feet down, and there were moments when I might have felt like an astronaut visiting some alien planet filled with exotic life. But I knew better. I was home and all the weird and wonderful lifeforms around me were family. The magnificence and importance of nature are clarified and amplified in light of the awareness of shared ancestors and a common origin. I understand that I’m inside the big beautiful blur of life that surrounds our world. And that makes the ride even more amazing.”

“Seeking a Rational View of Life on Earth”, Darwin Day lecture to the Prairie State Humanists, February 09, 2022


  • “Museums matter because they are invaluable points of collection and contemplation for a species with a complicated past and self-awareness issues. Somewhere in their wonderful mix of beauty, fact, fiction, lies, and error we discover crucial truths about us.”

“Imagine a World Without Museums”, Psychology Today (July 3, 2021)


  • “Humility is the key. If you are an arrogant, condescending skeptic then you are doing it wrong. Science and critical thinking rest upon a premise that says anyone can be wrong about anything. A good thinker is humble. We also must be mindful of the fact that very intelligent people can hold very dumb beliefs. It’s a human condition. Irrational believers are not inferior people; they simply made a misstep somewhere along the way in their thinking.”

“An Interview with Guy Harrison,” by Alejandro Borgo, Skeptical Inquirer (November 10, 2017)


  • “Racism is an avoidable culture clash masquerading as inescapable biological warfare.”

At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life (Prometheus Books, 2018)


  • "This is not how the 21st century was supposed to be going for us. As a child nurtured on Star Trek reruns, I imagined our species solving poverty, ending war, and colonizing other worlds by now. Silly me. Here I am today discussing a popular belief that reptilian extraterrestrials reside in Buckingham Palace."

“How to Repair the American Mind,” Skeptical Inquirer (Volume 45 Issue 3, 2021)


  • “The solutions to human problems can only be found in humans. We need to get out of our own way and start acting like sensible sane lifeforms. … Yes, we have a terrible tendency to be shortsighted, greedy, violent, and irrational. But we also have a remarkable capacity for trust, cooperation, and figuring things out.”

Address to the 2021 Asian Humanism Conference, November 27, 2021


  • “In attempting to know, we engage in grand and meaningful acts. We use our human brains as time machines, to see and learn from the distant past and to travel forward thousands, millions, and billions of years. This young, patchwork organ that evolved to help ancient primates find food and water, maintain group relationships, achieve sexual intercourse, and imagine the next best tool now carries us to the very ends of the universe and beyond.”

At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life (Prometheus Books, 2018)


  • “The world's biggest problem is not sexism, racism, political polarization, war, or income inequality. The key never-ending crisis is that most people can’t or won’t think. Poor thinking skills cut cross all the usual lines to drag down societies like nothing else. Thinking well could alleviate or solve virtually all our problems.”

Tweet (@harrisonauthor) January 22, 2022


  • “Museums are my cathedrals. Artifacts in glass cases are my sacred relics. I truly believe I have felt something close to religious fervor inside some of these buildings. I even feel that I have experienced the occasional transcendent moment inside a museum.”

50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God (Prometheus Books, 2008)


  • “Appreciate the magnificent brain you possess. Protect and nurture it. Strive to be a good skeptic and critical thinker so that fewer hours of your precious life will be squandered on dead-end beliefs. Always try to think like a scientist so that you might better know truth from fiction.”

Think: Why You Should Question Everything (Prometheus Books, 2013)


  • “It’s the 21st century and still we have no universally agreed upon definition of life. It seems the universe does not care about our desire for tidy categories and tight descriptions. Our intellectual comfort is irrelevant to reality. When it comes to life, gray zones and blurry boundaries abound. This is bizarre considering life has been on our planet for more than 3.5 billion years and it’s all around us now. Life saturates Earth’s surface zone, from more than a mile deep in the crust to the stratosphere miles above. Its diversity and overall success are staggering, difficult to comprehend. For example, some scientists estimate that there are more than one trillion species alive right now. In total, Earth may have hosted more than 100 trillion species so far. Life is no stranger to us. And yet, what is it?”

“What is Life?”, Psychology Today (September 2019)


  • "Extreme political manipulation, social media idiocy, QAnon, and other cognitive disasters likely would dry up and shrink to insignificance if robbed of the current deep pool of unquestioning targets ready for assimilation. Those who understand the need to stop America’s slide into ever-deepening irrationality must push our society to raise up new generations of thinking citizens who are capable of identifying and shrugging off unproven claims."

“How to Repair the American Mind,” Skeptical Inquirer (Volume 45 Issue 3, 2021)


  • “It is in everyone’s best interest to realize and remember that the default human way is to believe first and ask questions never. We become better thinkers by recognizing how poor we are at thinking.”

“How to Think Like a Scientist,” chapter by Guy P. Harrison in the book Christianity in the Light of Science, edited by John W. Loftus


  • “Our problem is not a predetermined clash of irreconcilable genomes. Racism is generated and empowered by a flawed worldview that can be corrected with scientific and historical knowledge.”

"Race and Science: What We Really Know," SKEPTIC MAGAZINE (volume 25 number 3 2020)


  • “That amazing brain currently residing in your skull evolved over millions of years atop a mobile platform that navigated daily within natural environments. Being confined to a concrete box, subjected to artificial light and constant audio/visual stimulation is not its optimal comfort zone. Your Pleistocene brain is misplaced and often disoriented here in the urbanized-computerized 21st century. So treat it to a regular respite by returning to a familiar place. Go home, however briefly. Be among trees, plants, and wildlife, for the good of your brain.”

“Want to Be More Creative? Walk Like a Caveman,” Psychology Today (July 9, 2018)


  • “Critical thinking is the indispensable skill for smart living in modern society, and skepticism is the essential posture for the fully awake twenty-first-century human being.”

Good Thinking: What you need to know to be smarter, safer, wealthier, and wiser (Prometheus Books, 2015)


  • “Science is not the latest religion and scientists are not exalted priests. We have to think of science as a powerful tool that works. Using it requires responsibility. Science gives us vaccines one moment, nuclear warheads the next. It’s up to be wise tool users.”

Address to the 2021 Asian Humanism Conference, November 27, 2021


  • “All those Creationism vs. Evolution debates are misaligned and misleading. The real debate should be Creationism vs. Abiogenesis. Creationism is a belief about a supernatural origin of life. Evolution is a theory about how life changes over time. Those are not the same things. Abiogenesis is the science of life’s origin that logically stands in direct opposition to creationism.”

“Seeking a Rational View of Life on Earth”, Darwin Day lecture to the Prairie State Humanists, February 09, 2022


  • “Modern museums are elaborate versions of those striking prehistoric hands stenciled on cave walls by people who lived tens of thousands of years ago, or that plaque from Earth placed on the Moon in the summer of 1969. Museums scream to every visitor: “Look at all this stuff! People were here. People figured things out. We did things. And you are part of it!”

“Imagine a World Without Museums”, Psychology Today (July 3, 2021)


  • “Isaac Newton would be the easy answer [for greatest scientist ever]. But I’ll go with the first hominin, probably a two million years or so ago, who confronted fire like a scientist. He or she observed the flames, thought about it, formulated an hypothesis, experimented perhaps, and then came up with a theory of fire. That person, so long ago, was doing science. That person approached fire, a dangerous phenomenon, and dared to control it. That was science in action. And it changed us forever. With fire in our minds and torches in our hands, we were no longer prey, no longer lost in the darkness of every night. If we one day spread our intelligence throughout the universe, it will all trace back to that hominin and that moment.”

“An Interview with Guy Harrison,” by Alejandro Borgo, Skeptical Inquirer (November 10, 2017)


  • “Every person is a collective, a vast and complex gathering of interdependent life. Any description of ‘human’ must acknowledge these intimate strangers. Our bond with microbes is such that they are not so much riders, parasites, and assistants as part human. And we, it’s becoming increasingly clear, may need to begin thinking of ourselves as part microbe.”

At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life (Prometheus Books, 2018)


  • “Good thinking and science are the fundamental prerequisites to building a better world for ourselves and the life we share it with. So much that harms us, so much of our pain is self-inflicted and unnecessary, the result of irrational fears and misperceptions. Most people on Earth right now do not know who we are, how we got here, how we depend on countless lifeforms all around us, how the universe works, and so on. All of our wars, racism, hate, fear, destruction and neglect are exactly what one would expect from an intelligent species with no self-awareness. We must find a way to teach our children, all children, the fundamental knowledge of who we are and what the universe is. Only then, can we finally wake up, grow up, and be our best.“

“An Interview with Guy Harrison,” by Alejandro Borgo, Skeptical Inquirer (November 10, 2017)


  • “The brain produces a customized representation of a scene. What we see, as a matter of routine, are functional fantasies meant to be of practical use. If more people filtered every important observation through an awareness of this, it could significantly reduce self-deception and irrationality. And that would be a big step toward a more sensible world.

“What Everyone Needs to Understand About Human Vision” Psychology Today (October 16, 2021)


  • “We have magnificent brains—and use them to believe nonsense and behave as fools. . . . We are enslaved to delusions and too often the servants of subconscious biases. . . . Our great challenge is to use our brains to overcome our brains.”

At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life (2018)


  • “Mozart's music on a smartphone can't redeem or compensate for our lust for the ludicrous. Suckers for empty promises, false hopes, and pseudoscientific babble, we are our own worst enemies. Few people take the time to learn how brains process sensory input in misleading ways and how subconscious biases influence conscious thinking. The result is a global population teeming with easy targets for digitized nonsense and deception.”

Think Before You Like: Social Media's Effect on the Brain and the Tools You Need to Navigate Your Newsfeed (Prometheus Books, 2017)


  • “Don’t passively accept contagions. Turn your mind into an immune system that intercepts invading ideas, assesses them, and destroys the bad ones.”

Tweet (@harrisonauthor) November 29, 2021


  • “Evolution is the long blur, a constant and living flow of branching relationships. One thing is always connected to another and another. Having no regard for our love of labels and organization, life rolls on as a continual stream of organic matter. The important thing about the origin of the human brain is not pinpointing some specific time, event, or fossil to declare a beginning in order to satisfy our desire for order. What matters is that we understand the process from which it emerged and how deeply rooted the modern human brain is to its past.”

Good Thinking: What you need to know to be smarter, safer, wealthier, and wiser (Prometheus Books, 2015)


  • “Remember who you are: a human, a lifeform who still carries echoes of the forest and deep memories of the wild. Answer this call. Respond to the mind’s natural attraction to the natural world. Do all you can to nurture your brain’s need for nature so that it may serve you well.”

“Nurture Your Nature Connection to Maximize Brain Power”, Psychology Today (October 16, 2021)


  • “Don’t worry about winning debates and beating up people in heated arguments. That stuff is rarely enjoyable or productive. Instead offer a helping hand. Be positive. Teach. Try to inspire people to think better for their own good.”

“Seeking a Rational View of Life on Earth”, Darwin Day lecture to the Prairie State Humanists, February 09, 2022


  • "We are not a collection of subspecies separated by biological canyons. Neither nature nor supernatural design imposed the different and often contradictory racial classification systems used around the world."

"Race and Science: What We Really Know," SKEPTIC MAGAZINE (volume 25 number 3 2020)


  • “All known life on Earth today is fundamentally similar, is genetically related, and shares descent from a single-celled common ancestor that lived at least 3 or 4 billion years ago. . . . Sometimes I get so wrapped up in thoughts about evolution, biodiversity, and the surprisingly close relationships between lifeforms that I look around and see only slight variations of genetic code.”

At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life (Prometheus Books, 2018)


  • “The reality is that racial lynchings were a frequent and normal feature of life in the South. This unique method of murder was a devastating form of terrorism that imposed a constant threat to all black people. The white authority structure did not only tolerate or encourage these killings but used the fear of lynchings to control and oppress black people.”

“Why White America Must Learn the History of Lynching”, Skeptical Inquirer (December 2020)


  • “We must use our brains to overcome our brains. You are the solution to this crazy world we find ourselves in. Do everything you can to reach others. Teach. Elevate. Encourage critical thinking. But do it with kindness and understanding. People who believe crazy things are only guilty of being human. Remember this and show compassion.”

Address to Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Franklin, January 9, 2022


  • “Science has revealed that human vision is much closer to cognitive theater than video surveillance. But how many people know this? Most are unaware that seeing is largely a creative act, a process that presents us with a version of reality rather than an accurate reproduction.”

“What Everyone Needs to Understand About Human Vision” Psychology Today (October 16, 2021)


  • “Our present course may be unsustainable. The synergy of increasingly sophisticated deception aimed at unthinking masses promises more crippling confusion, disruption, and chaos, perhaps more than America can endure. Every minute worrying about nefarious microchips in vaccines is time not spent intelligently evaluating risk and assessing evidence. Every day sacrificed at the altar of a conspiracy belief or at the feet of a hollow demagogue is another day lost to possible social and political progress for all.”

“How to Repair the American Mind,” Skeptical Inquirer (Volume 45 Issue 3, 2021)


  • “I can easily imagine the first museum having existed a million or more years ago. Picture an elderly Homo erectus proudly displaying an assortment of exquisitely crafted Acheulian hand axes for all to see. Maybe there was even a children’s educational section for hands-on tool making fun. For as long as humans have had stuff, someone probably felt compelled to show off that stuff.”

“Imagine a World Without Museums”, Psychology Today (July 3, 2021)


  • “When we transitioned to a species that relies so heavily on cognitive abilities, we became the most powerful and profoundly weird creatures of all time. Right now, more than 7.6 billion people carry inside their heads a three-pound blob of magic, an electrochemical storm of genius and creative madness that is unprecedented and unsurpassed in this planet’s 4.5 billion years of natural history. This is who humans became long ago, and this is who you are now. You are one more unique link in a long, living chain of fantastic inventiveness and brilliant imagination.”

At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life (Prometheus Books, 2018)


  • “It’s never too late to think.”

Tweet (@harrisonauthor) February 10, 2022


  • “In 1972, from a distance of about 18,000 miles away, an Apollo 17 astronaut took a photo of the Earth that later would be named “The Blue Marble.” That single unprecedented image of an illuminated Earth in full jolted billions into contemplating the beauty and fragility of our tiny home in the dark expanse.”

“How Will the James Webb Telescope Impact Human Psychology?” Psychology Today (March 17, 2022)


  • “Lynchings in the past have significantly shaped race relations in the present. A killing such as George Floyd’s lands on black people with a much heavier psychological weight because of lynching’s legacy. Too many white people fail to recognize this, and that needs to change. The hurt is too great, the simmering fear and anger too volatile, to bury forever. All Americans who would seek or demand a nation that is fairer to every citizen, less racist, and more peaceful have a responsibility to know this history in detail. … Confronting this ugliness would be difficult for everyone, of course, but it should be attempted. Ignorance and denial certainly have not worked, because this American wound still bleeds.”

“Why White America Must Learn the History of Lynching”, Skeptical Inquirer (December 2020)


  • “Spending a day inside an ornate palace of emotion such as the Louvre or Metropolitan Museum of Art is proof that even the worst of our wars, oppression, and neglect cannot erase the beauty we humans routinely conjure out of thin air. We may hate, but we love, too. Destroyers and creators, that’s us. … Visit museums. Support museums. Love museums. They are necessary reflections in the mirror, the biased but revelatory autobiographies of a species still seeking to know itself.”

“Imagine a World Without Museums”, Psychology Today (July 3, 2021)


  • “Intelligent design is intellectual surrender. Not understanding how something works or how it came to be is not an answer. Our current ignorance should only be motivation to keep working the problems. Everything is irreducibly complex—until a scientist figures it out.”

“Seeking a Rational View of Life on Earth”, Darwin Day lecture to the Prairie State Humanists, February 09, 2022


  • “Scientists believe that walking has this effect of enhancing creativity because it loosens the restraints and filters that our brains place on memory when we focus on a task. When one dedicates mental effort to something, the brain tries to help by shutting down what it deems to be irrelevant distractions from within. Walking can relax the mind enough to reduce these barriers and allow some unrelated memories to emerge. This is precisely what we want in order to maximize creativity. It helps when disconnected memories and disparate bits of information come forward, because they are often the source of new and unique ideas.”

“Want to Be More Creative? Walk Like a Caveman,” Psychology Today (July 9, 2018)


  • "Making critical thinking a national educational norm is the cognitive vaccine America needs to have a fighting chance of maintaining sufficient sanity. Good thinking prevents and alleviates bad thinking."

“How to Repair the American Mind,” Skeptical Inquirer (Volume 45 Issue 3, 2021)


  • “Our present inability to define life succinctly, logically and consistently is a byproduct of something we can be grateful for. The difficulty exists because living and nonliving matter are intimately tangled as partners in the same grand game. Mere being is the big show. We live inside of and are part of a universe that is exciting and endlessly fascinating. All of it together—stars, planets, moons, rocks, molecules, atoms, and ‘life’—make the spectacle. What’s going on down at the quantum level, as well as dark energy and dark matter, makes clear that nonlife is no less amazing and surprising than life. The fact that the two realms blur from one to the other only makes learning and discovery more thrilling. Yes, we belong to a cool clique called life, with its blurry borders and loose membership requirements, but we also belong to a larger and even more exciting club called existence.”

“What is Life?”, Psychology Today (September 2019)


  • “But even bad museums can have value. The Creation Museum (Kentucky, USA), for example, may be a vulgar monument to pseudoscience and deception, but it can teach us important things about American culture and humankind in general. I visited museums in a couple of communist countries that were like supervolcanoes of absurd propaganda. But they made me think more about patriotism and the national mythologies of all countries.”

“Imagine a World Without Museums”, Psychology Today (July 3, 2021)


  • “When we jump to a conclusion before doing research, we tend to look for evidence that supports our beliefs and ignore facts that contradict them. This deprives us of the opportunity to grow our knowledge.”

Red Book (March 2016, page 109)


  • “It’s scary to think about, but we may finally find unity as a species in self-destruction. The first minute of World War III will render nations, races, and religions meaningless concepts because the first thing to die in nuclear fire will be all our beloved imaginary borders."

Tweet (@harrisonauthor) April 23, 2022


  • “Science has revealed that human vision is much closer to cognitive theater than video surveillance. But how many people know this? Most are unaware that seeing is largely a creative act, a process that presents us with a version of reality rather than an accurate reproduction.”

“What Everyone Needs to Understand About Human Vision” Psychology Today (October 16, 2021)


  • “I am confident that we will continue to move toward greater political and legal freedoms, but with many ups and downs along the way. However, we may find that total freedom or something close to it is a difficult challenge, too. Winning freedom of thought and action is one thing, deciding what to do with it will be quite another.”

“An Interview with Guy Harrison,” by Alejandro Borgo, Skeptical Inquirer (November 10, 2017)


  • “Evolution does not mean improvement. There is no ladder of progress, no foresight, no plan, no goal. Evolution is the unintelligent and indifferent process of life changing over time. It doesn’t prepare lifeforms for the future. It can’t because the future is unknown. With evolution, the only winning is being alive right now and the only losing is being extinct. Every species on Earth today is tied for first. We can’t rank contemporary lifeforms as more or less evolved than others. And we can’t rank the long-term survivability of species because today’s big flashy advantage could be tomorrow’s death sentence. The mighty human brain, for example, might turn out to be a doomsday device. If we destroy ourselves with nuclear weapons then big primate brains would have been just another evolutionary dead-end.”

“Seeking a Rational View of Life on Earth”, Darwin Day lecture to the Prairie State Humanists, February 09, 2022


  • “QAnon is a claim so extraordinarily vacuous that it can almost serve as the perfect litmus test for the pathological absence of critical thinking.”

“How to Repair the American Mind,” Skeptical Inquirer (Volume 45 Issue 3, 2021)


  • “The human brain is evolution’s most magnificent disaster, a beautiful and glorious cesspool of brilliant analytical powers, infinite creativity, and pure madness.”

Tweet (@harrisonauthor) November 22, 2021


  • “This is an exciting moment in human history. Collectively, as a species, we are standing at the mouth of the deepest and darkest cave of all. As we lean in and turn on the flashlight, we can be confident that wonderful secrets await.

“How Will the James Webb Telescope Impact Human Psychology?” Psychology Today (March 17, 2022)


  • “Some museums are blatant trophy rooms designed to show off only the best of ourselves. This is a good thing, too. We need it. A great art museum, for example, reassures me that, no matter what comes, humankind has not been a total waste of atoms.”

“Imagine a World Without Museums”, Psychology Today (July 3, 2021)


  • “The crucial ever-present factor in 2020 was critical thinking. Those who thought well were less likely to tumble into the rabbit holes of QAnon, COVID is a hoax, 5-G towers help spread the virus, racism is scientific, hydroxychloroquine cures COVID, demon sperm is a problem, tracking devices are in vaccines, mass election fraud, etc. The ability and willingness to lean toward evidence and logic rather than side with blind trust and emotion was the key metric behind the madness.”

“How to Repair the American Mind,” Skeptical Inquirer (Volume 45 Issue 3, 2021)


External links[edit]

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