20 May, 2016

The believing brain by Michael Shermer

The believing brain is a book by noted science writer and leading skeptic Michael Shermer that investigates the human belief system. Specifically the way beliefs are born, formed, shaped, reinforced, challenged, changed and extinguished. Shermer looks at real personal journeys, human biology, religion, politics, science and the cosmos in finding out not only why, but how we believe what we do.

There is some good stuff in here and Shermer is not afraid to put his neck on the line in explaining his own former beliefs, scepticism, politics etc. at the risk of colouring the reader’s bias against his argument.

Personally I found his explanations very interesting with terms such as ‘agenticity’ (belief that the world is controlled by invisible agents) for things such as souls, spirits, gods, conspirators and so forth. Also the way people tend to see patterns (‘patternicity’) in both meaningful and meaningless things. Shermer demonstrates why science (and positive evidence) is the tool to discern belief from reality.

I picked up The believing brain while at some ones house and was drawn in from the first page so I can’t really give much higher praise than that. With his background as a science writer he gets his teeth into the nitty-gritty of scientific terms which will appeal to those looking for substance behind his explanations. Check it out!

Title: The believing brain 
Author: Michael Shermer

Recommended by James W Māngere Bridge Library

James W wants to confirm that the preceding staff pick of The believing brain is true. And by true I mean false. It’s all lies. But they’re entertaining lies, and in the end isn’t that the real truth? The answer is no.

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