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The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies Hardcover – 1994

4.1 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; 1st edition (1994)
  • ASIN: B00BT00I9S
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #421,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Yes, this book has certainly caused many people to get their panties in a bunch since its publication in 2011. That being said, I am not one of those angry people and found the book very enlightening and, at times, fascinating.

I think one of the main theses of the book can be summed up by the following quote: "Our brains are belief engines, evolved pattern-recognition machines that connect the dots and create meaning out of patterns that we think we see in nature. Sometimes A really is connected to B; sometimes it is not." Shermer also explains how the human brain has evolved to create beliefs first and rationalize those beliefs after, rather than thinking clearly and logically before coming to a conclusion about what we believe. In this way, we cherry-pick the "evidence" that best fits our beliefs and refuse to see the true evidence to the contrary. He says, "Humans like to feel like they're in control, and we feel like we're in control when we understand what's going on. In order to `understand,' we may see patterns where there really aren't any." Shermer is sure to stress that everyone is guilty of doing this - theists and atheists, scientists and philosophers, neuroscientists and custodians - and it's important to remember that we can't help it. The scientific method is the best defense against this kind of narrow thinking, and scientific procedures for experiments such as the double-blind method fortify science against our natural biases.
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I bought and read this book some years ago and decided to give copies to young college people this past Christmas. The book is the third book by Shermer I have read and each seems to me very enlightening. The human brain is something to behold, and Shermer heips us understand how it works in a tone that is humble and revealing. If people read this book, they will better understand why we have so many diverse opinions about the supernatural, religion, and politics. Another book that tackles the same subject is "The Righteous Mind" by Haidt. Both men reveal how the subconscious mind dominates our lives.
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Great book! It explains many of the natural human thoughts that lead to the building of legends and religions. Reading this book is both enlightening and helpful to understanding the minds of people around you. A must read.
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The section on politics is outstanding -and informed. Excellent material on the difference between Liberals and Conservatives -and Libertarians. Well researched.
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Changed my life completely. All the years of wasted false beliefs. I am so thankful to Dr. Shermer for this book. Only wish I had found it 30 years ago.
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Should be read by every person who wants to be known as educated.
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