- Unknown Binding
- ASIN: B005CA9KKE
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,890,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---how We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them As Truths (Hardcover) By Michael Shermer Unknown Binding – 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are a baseball fan you will never view the curious antics of a hitter entering the batter's box in quite the same way again after reading Michael's book. You will likely be reminded of the pigeon in a Skinner's Box learning pigeon patternicity: the learning of a superstition.
If you are a Liberal and you cannot understand how those crazy Conservatives can actually believe the things they do, it will be explained to you in Michael's book. The same goes for Conservatives who think that Liberalism is some kind of mental disorder....they will understand why Liberals believe what they believe. Michael also explains why neither Liberal nor Conservative is likely to change: it's all based on the way the human brain works.
The first two sections of the book, comprising 135 pages, pretty much lay the scientific foundation for the remainder of the book. Reading it requires some attention to detail, but you will learn quite a bit, and the writing is accessible to the non-scientist, and the author is mindful of his audience and avoids scientific jargon, explaining such jargon when it is impossible to avoid, and reinforcing the explanations when jargon must be used again after the reader may have forgotten the meaning a few pages later. I found this very helpful.
Part 3 of the book is devoted to examining Belief in the Afterlife, Belief in God, Belief in Aliens, and Belief in Conspiracies, using the scientific facts from Parts I & 2 of the book. I was tempted to skip one or two of these Beliefs, but I got sucked in. They are handled quite interestingly.Read more ›
He simply talks science. We need to understand science and Shermer is our guide. Science is the antidote to superstition, agency detection, and the flimsy anecdotal evidence for beliefs that modern scientifically literate people do not accept. "70 percent of Americans still do not understand the scientific process defined in the National Science foundation study as grasping probability, the experimental method, and hypothesis testing." (p. 4) So his goal is to share how science works and what it can accomplish. He writes: "What I want to believe based on emotions and what I should believe based on evidence do not always coincide. I'm a skeptic not because I want to believe, but because I want to know. How can we tell the difference between what we would like to be true and what is actually the case? The answer is science." (p. 2)
"Belief systems are powerful, pervasive and enduring," he rightly says. (p. 5) "The brain is a belief engine." "Once beliefs are formed, the brain begins to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, which adds an emotional boost of further confidence in the beliefs and thereby accelerates the process of reinforcing them, and round and round the process goes in a positive feedback loop of belief confirmation.Read more ›
"The Believing Brain" is a fantastic and ambitious book that explains the nature of beliefs. Mr. Shermer provides his theory of belief and with great expertise and skill provides compelling arguments and practical examples in explaining how the process of belief works. He applies his theory to a wide range of types of beliefs and does so with mastery. This excellent 400 page-book is composed of the following four parts: Part I. Journeys of Belief, Part II. The Biology of Belief, Part III. Belief in Things Unseen, and Part IV. Belief in Things Seen.
1. A fascinating topic in the hands of a master of his craft.
2. Well-written, well-researched, engaging and accessible book. Bravo!
3. Great, logical format. Good use of illustrations.
4. Great use of popular culture to convey sophisticated concepts in an accessible manner.
5. Establishes his theory early on and then proceeds like a great architect building his masterpiece.
6. Great quotes from many great minds, including some of his own, "What I want to believe based on emotions and what I should believe based on evidence do not always coincide. I'm a skeptic not because I do not want to believe but because I want to know".
7. Answers the question of "Why we believe" to complete satisfaction.
8. A thorough explanation on what the brain is.
9. The first of four parts of this book starts off with three distinctly different routes to belief, including his own revealing journey to beliefs.
10. The concept of patternicity defined. A great take at why our brains evolved to assume that all patterns are real.
11.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Aside from being a hell of a nice guy, Dr. Shermer is also a fascinating writer. This book dives deep into the way the brain works and all the errors that the brain can make. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Kathleen Spratt
Shermer's writing is always incredibly well-researched. Regardless of your viewpoints, this book is worth reading.Published 17 days ago by Anton
The author isn't qualified to write this book. And that should be enough to stop most people from making the mistake of buying it. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Economist
Dr. Shermer book gives a very extensive analysis of how the brain works and how we perceive the world around us. Read morePublished 6 months ago by David Allan Macfarlane
If you want to understand what's going on in the world, just read it!Published 8 months ago by Jan Ozymko
This is an excellent book that explains that our beliefs come first and only then do we attempt to justify them by selectively choosing the facts that support our beliefs.Published 8 months ago by Gordon Bjoraker
I have long held Michael Shermer in very high regard and I still do, but in writing this book, I was reminded that we are all, every one of us, less than fully aware of our biases... Read morePublished 9 months ago by James Powell