Shermer is the author of several books that attempt to explain the ubiquity of what in his opinion are irrational or unsubstantiated beliefs. Why People Believe Weird Things, treats a variey of "weird" ideas and groups (including cults), in the tradition of the skeptical writings of Martin Gardner. He has devoted entire books to Holocaust deniers (Denying History), and to belief in God (How We Believe). Shermer was once a fundamentalist Christian, but according to his book The Science of Good and Evil, is now a nontheist and an advocate for materialist philosophy.
Shermer received his bachelor's degree from Pepperdine University in 1976 in Psychology/Biology, his master's degree from California State University, Fullerton in Experimental Psychology two years later, and his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University in History of Science in 1991 (with a dissertation entitled "Heretic-Scientist: Alfred Russel Wallace and the Evolution of Man: A Study on the Nature of Historical Change").
Shermer is also a cycling enthusiast and was once a marathon bicycle racer; he helped found the Race Across America (the course of the race is from the West Coast to East Coast of the United States, approximately 3,000 miles) and competed several times. He has produced over a half dozen documentaries on cycling.
Shermer is author or co-author of the following books: