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SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 7, 2009
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[A] fascinating, timely and important book. . . . Hood’s presentation of the science behind our supersense is crystal clear and utterly engaging. (New Scientist )
An intriguing look at a feature of the human mind that is subtle in its operation but profound in its consequences. (Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Stuff of Thought )
Reading SuperSense is like having lunch with your favorite professor--the conversation spans religion, biology, psychology, philosophy, and early childhood development. One thing is for sure, you’ll never see the world in the same way again. (Ori Brafman, New York Times bestselling author of Sway )
In recent years, there has been a lot written about religion, superstition, and faith, but there has never been a book like this. . . SuperSense is a joy to read--beautifully written, deeply clever and funny, replete with brilliant insights and observations. (Paul BloomProfessor, Department of Psychology, Yale University Author of "Descartes' Baby: How the science of child development explains what makes us human" )
Dr. Hood, a world-class scholar in the field of cognitive science, explains the many weird and wonderful ways that we humans naturally view the world as ruled by supernatural phenomena. Bruce Hood’s SuperSense is sensational. (Susan A. GelmanSusan A. GelmanSusan A. Gelman, author of The Essential Child )
Read this beautifully written book, and you will lose some childhood innocence about how the world works. But, it will leave you wiser about yourself, and what it is to be human. (Guy Claxton, author of Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: How Intelligence Increases When You Think Less )
Magical thinking is a defining feature of the human mind – the source of all that is sublime and absurd about our species. In this timely exploration of the psychology of irrational belief Bruce Hood pulls off the rare feat of being both authoritative and wonderfully entertaining. Brilliant. (Paul Broks, author of Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology )
A compelling account of how beliefs in the supernatural world spring from the natural way our minds make sense of our experiences. (Daniel M. Wegner, Harvard Professor of Psychology, author of The Illusion of Conscious Will )
If we understood our own irrationality, and why so many people believe in ghosts, spirits, and invisible powers, then we might be able to improve the way we think. With quirkily fun examples and fascinating experiments Bruce Hood explains why we can’t always escape our Supersense. (Dr. Susan Blackmore, author of Conversations on Consciousness )
Supersense is a terrifically fun read. But it is much more: though we may forever believe in ghosts, goblins and the beneficent deities, with a dose of skeptical scientific realism, a la Hood, there is hope that sanity will prevail. (Marc Hauser, Harvard College Professor, author of Moral Minds )
“...a fun and illuminating book.” (Newsweek )
“Hood’s treatise provides a much-needed counterbalance to hardcore skeptics by arguing that supersense, while not exactly grounded in rationality, ultimately gives our lives meaning.” (Booklist )
Top Customer Reviews
"This book is not meant to make you feel foolish or to encourage you to abandon your supersense [which, as Hood defines it, are naturally occurring irrational beliefs that are a by-product of human development]. Many facets of our behaviour and beliefs have no rational basis. Think of everything that makes us human, and you soon realize that there is much that calls into question our ability to be rational. Love, jealousy, humor and obsession, for instance, are all present in all of us, and even though we know that our beliefs and actions stemming from them can be unbalanced, we would still not want to lose our capacity to experience them. The same can be said for the supersense. So embrace it, learn where it comes from, and understand why it refuses to go away. Oh, and if you are a skeptic reading this book, thanks for getting this far". [page 36].
That last part is appears to be more addressed to readers who suit what Dr Caroline Watt (co-author of '...Read more ›
I read a lot of popular evolutionary psychology, anthropology, history, and related books by people like Steven Pinker, Geoffrey Miller, Matt Ridley, Bryan Sykes, Jared Diamond and Richard Dawkins. If you're into these authors too, then this book is for you.
Hood's overview of the research behind our natural inclination towards superstition is well-written and easy to digest. He starts by pointing out that even the most intellectual among us has to contend with irrational fears and mystical beliefs -- the example being how most of his students will refuse to wear a sweater he tells them was once worn by a serial killer.
What I really liked about this book was Hood's position that we will never remove superstition from our lives, that it's just as much of a hard-wired instinct as language or pattern recognition. He takes a much more moderate stand on religion that Dawkins, who believes raising a kid with supernatural beliefs is intellectually abusive. Instead, Hood is one of those scientists who accepts that the best we can do is to better understand our irrational impulses and thereby improve the way we deal with them.
If you're a human nature geek like me, then put this book on your summer reading list. It's conversational and witty, with just enough new information to make it all worthwhile.
Hood is also a pretty accessible guy. I made a comment on his blog at [...] , and he got right back to me.
So here's your review, Bruce, as promised!
I have always been fascinated by the things that people believe especially when faced with rational explanations that make belief an exercise in the suspension of disbelief. When I am feeling particularly smarmy about the fact that I am a skeptical and rational creature who thinks critically, I remind myself that as I sit down to write anything of import, I always pull out my *lucky* fountain pen.
I ordered this book long before it was available because I enjoyed reading Bruce Hood's blog and was thrilled when it was finally published. The book was well worth the wait - it is a great read that makes a serious subject very approachable.
There is all manner of research showing how we believe including some fairly interesting research by NIMH, and while some would argue that learning the mechanism is the first step towards abolishing belief, I think that there is something to be said for having our lucky pens.
Bruce's book presents us with the whys, wherefores and need for beliefs that would on the surface appear to contradict the serious need for critical thinking.
I didn't agree with everything... but I am going to give it a place of honor on my favorite bookshelf between "Breaking the Spell" and "Why People Believe Weird Things".
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting, and a nice review of different superstitions. I think it lacks a bit of self criticism though.Published 6 months ago by Lars Hefte
I read this book after reading "Caveman logic" by Hank Davis and I did it because I looked for a text that supplemented what Davis said in his book. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Odysseus at home
As believer-tuned-agnostic, I tended to consider religious/supernatural belief as something beyond comprehension. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Amazon Customer
Bruce Hood advances an original and interesting explanation for supernatural beliefs, even amongst rational people. Read morePublished on August 9, 2013 by Bogdan Borz
I found this a most absorbing read, particularly because though I agreed with the rationale behind much of it I did also find myself arguing, enjoyably rather than angrily, as... Read morePublished on March 4, 2013 by Lady Fancifull
I have a library of books and Supersense is one of the top ten on my shelves. A person can find out a lot about themselves as to their thinking processes and what makes them make... Read morePublished on October 18, 2012 by Amazon Customer
This is a very well written and interesting book on why humans believe in the supernatural. We have a "Supersense". Read morePublished on August 18, 2012 by Book Fanatic
The book is well written, however, I was put-off several times by the blatant inclusion of the author's political points of view. Read morePublished on August 12, 2012 by D. L. Sell