The Believing Brain
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The Believing Brain : From Spiritual Faiths to Political Convictions - How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths.

3.9 (5,669 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 looks for and finds patterns - and then infuses those patterns with meaning, forming beliefs. Once beliefs are formed, our brains subconsciously seek out confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, which accelerates 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. Ultimately, he demonstrates why science is the best tool ever devised to determine whether or not our belief matches reality.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 464 pages
  • 133 x 198 x 30mm | 366g
  • Little, Brown Book Group
  • Robinson
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1780335296
  • 9781780335292
  • 35,785

Review quote

refreshingly sceptical. * Independent on Sunday * Michael Shermer lucidly describes why and how we are hard wired to 'want to believe'. With a narrative that gently flows from the personal to the profound, Shermer shares what he has learned after spending a lifetime pondering the relationship between beliefs and reality, and how to be prepared to tell the difference between the two. * Lawrence M. Krauss, Foundation Professor and Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University * Michael Shermer has long been one of the world's deepest thinkers when it comes to explaining where our beliefs come from, and he brings it all together in this important, engaging, and ambitious book. Shermer knows all the science, he tells great stories, he is funny, and he is fearless, delving into hot-button topics like 9-11 Truthers, life after death, capitalism, Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, and the existence of God. This is an entertaining and thoughtful exploration of the beliefs that shape our lives. -- Paul Bloom author of How Pleasure Works 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. * Sam Harris, New York Times bestselling author. * The Believing Brain is a tour de force integrating neuroscience and the social sciences to explain how irrational beliefs are formed and reinforced, while leaving us confident our ideas are valid. This is a must read for everyone who wonders why religious and political beliefs are so rigid and polarized-or why the other side is always wrong, but somehow doesn't see it. -- Dr Leonard Mlodinow author The Drunkard's Walk The Believing Brain is a fascinating account of the origins of all manner of beliefs, replete with cutting-edge evidence from the best scientific research, packed with nuggets of truths and then for good measure, studded with real world examples to deliver to the reader, a very personable, engaging and ultimately, convincing set of explanations for why we believe. -- Professor Bruce Hood, Bristol University and author of Supersenseshow more

About Michael Shermer

Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101. He is the author of New York Times bestsellers Why People Believe Weird Things and The Believing Brain, Why Darwin Matters, The Science of Good and Evil, and The Moral Arc. His next book is Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality & Utopia. Michael regularly contributes opinion editorials, essays, and reviews to: the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Science, Nature, and other publications. He appeared on such shows as The Colbert Report, 20/20, Dateline, Charlie Rose, Oprah, and Larry King Live (but, proudly, never Jerry Springer!). He has been interviewed in countless documentaries aired on PBS, A&E, Discovery, The History Channel, The Science Channel, and The Learning Channel. Dr. Shermer was the co-host and co-producer of the 13-hour Family Channel television series, Exploring the Unknown. His two TED talks, seen by millions, were voted in the top 100.Dr. Shermer received his B.A. in psychology from Pepperdine University, M.A. in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and his Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University. He has been a college professor since 1979, also teaching at Occidental College, Glendale College, and Claremont Graduate University, where he taught a transdisciplinary course for Ph.D. students on Evolution, Economics, and the Brain.show more

Rating details

5,669 ratings
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 33% (1,861)
4 36% (2,059)
3 22% (1,260)
2 6% (355)
1 2% (134)
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