Believing Brain From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths
|Author:||Michael Shermer (Skeptic magazine)|
Synthesizing thirty years of research, psychologist and science historian Michael Shermer upends the traditional thinking about how humans form beliefs about the world. Simply put, beliefs come first and explanations for beliefs follow. The brain, Shermer argues, is a belief engine. Using sensory data that flow in through the senses, the brain naturally begins to look for and find patterns, and then infuses those patterns with meaning, forming beliefs. Once beliefs are formed the brain begins to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, accelerating the process of reinforcing them, and round and round the process goes in a positive-feedback loop.
In "The Believing Brain, "Shermer provides countless real-world examples of how this process operates, from politics, economics, and religion to conspiracy theories, the supernatural, and the paranormal. And ultimately, he demonstrates why science is the best tool ever devised to determine whether or not our beliefs match reality.
"Michael Shermer has long been one of our most committed champions of scientific thinking in the face of popular delusion. In "The Believing Brain," he has written a wonderfully lucid, accessible, and wide-ranging account of the boundary between justified and unjustified belief. We have all fallen more deeply in his debt." -Sam Harris, author of the "New York Times" bestsellers "The Moral Landscape," "Letter to a Christian Nation," and "The End of Faith."
"The physicist Richard Feynman once said that the easiest person to fool is yourself, and as a result he argued that as a scientist one has to be especially careful to try and find out not only what is right about one's theories, but what might also be wrong with them. If we all followed this maxim of skepticism in everyday life, the world would probably be a better place. But we don't. In this book Michael Shermer lucidly describes why and how we are hard wired to 'want to believe'. With a narrative that gently flows from the pe