The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies - How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths

The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies - How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths

Paperback

By (author) Founding Publisher Michael Shermer

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  • Publisher: St Martin's Press
  • Format: Paperback | 385 pages
  • Dimensions: 137mm x 208mm x 28mm | 340g
  • Publication date: 7 August 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1250008808
  • ISBN 13: 9781250008800
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations, black & white line drawings, figures
  • Sales rank: 83,706

Product description

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.

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Author information

MICHAEL SHERMER is the author of "Why People Believe Weird Things," "The Science of Good and Evil," and eight other books on the evolution of human beliefs and behavior. He is the founding publisher of "Skeptic "magazine, the editor of Skeptic.com, a monthly columnist for "Scientific American," and an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University. He lives in Southern California.

Review quote

"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."