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by Michael Shermer
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  • Author:
    Michael Shermer
  • ISBN:
    1780335296
  • ISBN13:
    978-1780335292
  • Genre:
  • Publisher:
    Robinson Publishing (2012)
  • Language:
  • FB2 format
    1895 kb
  • ePUB format
    1658 kb
  • DJVU format
    1716 kb
  • Rating:
    4.7
  • Votes:
    581
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Michael Shermer has long been one of our most committed champions of scientific thinking in the face of popular delusion. In this book Michael Shermer lucidly describes why and how we are hard wired to 'want to believe'

Michael Shermer has long been one of our most committed champions of scientific thinking in the face of popular delusion. We have all fallen more deeply in his debt. In this book Michael Shermer lucidly describes why and how we are hard wired to 'want to believe'.

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.

The Believing Brain book. This book might be alienating to a person of faith or someone who is a staunch believer in the paranormal as Shermer does present a strong case against the likelihood of deities and knowing what deities want, as well as paranormal phenomena. However, if you are open-minded, you will find he doesn't attack belief as much as he tries to explain it, which may seem like nothing more than semantics but I think an important distinction.

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Books by Michael Shermer. The brain is a belief engine. We can’t help believing. sub navigation: See all book covers. From sensory data flowing in through the senses the brain naturally begins to look for and find patterns, and then infuses those patterns with meaning. The first process Dr. Shermer calls patternicity: the tendency to find meaningful patterns in both meaningful and meaningless data. The second process he calls agenticity: the tendency to infuse patterns with meaning, intention, and agency. Our brains evolved to connect the dots of our world into meaningful patterns that explain why things happen. These meaningful patterns become beliefs.

The Believing Brain is bestselling author Michael Shermer's comprehensive and provocative theory on how beliefs are born, formed, reinforced . Michael Shermer Önizleme Yok - 2012.

The Believing Brain is bestselling author Michael Shermer's comprehensive and provocative theory on how beliefs are born, formed, reinforced, challenged, changed, and extinguished. Simply put, beliefs come first and explanations for beliefs follow. The brain, Shermer argues, is a belief engine Michael Shermer Önizleme Yok - 2012.

Michael Shermer lucidly describes why and how we are hard wired to 'want to believe'.

Michael Shermer has long been one of our most committed champions of scientific thinking in the face of popular delusion. Michael Shermer lucidly describes why and how we are hard wired to 'want to believe'.

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Simply put, beliefs come first and explanations for beliefs follow. The brain, Shermer argues, is a belief engine.


Abywis
I almost passed on this book because the cover looked a little silly. But I was intrigued by the TOC. Shermer did not disappoint. I have read other books on the brain vs. mind, Consciousness separate from our physical selves, etc. This book fits right on my e-shelf next to those others. Put me on the skeptical side of those topics, but know it's been a long journey for me to get here. I have believed all that in the past, but in the end it stopped adding up and stopped making sense.

His simple answer is science. Shermer is not a scientist in a particular field, but he has talked to and read many scientists in many fields. My words, but supported by this book: Science tells us what we know about the world around us. Personal experience does exist, but if it cannot survive the scrutiny of the scientific method, it remains as personal experience. We build rocket ships and smartphones out of science, not personal experience.

One of my favorite quotes from the book: "Just because we don't know the natural reason for something, that doesn't mean there is a supernatural reason for it."

This book didn't change my thinking much, as I was leaning in this direction anyway. However, I learned useful things, and the book reinforced my position. It was a very important book to me at this time in my journey.
Minnai
Like Shermer's other books and columns, this is a very informative and engaging volume. However, his central thesis is surely wrong, or at least incomplete. Here is his central thesis (p. 5): "We form our beliefs for a variety of subjective, personal, emotional, and psychological reasons ... after forming our beliefs we then defend, justify, and rationalize them with a host of intellectual reasons, cogent arguments, and rational explanations. Beliefs come first, explanations for beliefs follow. I call this process belief-dependent realism...Reality exists independent of human minds, but our understanding of it depends upon the beliefs we hold at any given time."

If this were true, then "reality" could never lead us to change our beliefs. But we do change our beliefs, often in response to new information. The really critical question is when do we change our beliefs in response to reality, and when do we not?

Note that if Shermer's thesis were correct, then he believes it and all of the book is a rationalization of his pre-existing belief. Why should we bother to read his rationalizations? More generally, why ever listen to anyone's arguments about the nature of reality? they are just rationalizations of pre-existing beliefs.

At a minimum, we should add something about the costs of holding incorrect beliefs. For instance, it does not much matter what a non-scientist believes about evolution, so there is no cost to being a Creationist. By contrast, a biologist pays a high cost by believing in Creationism. He might, however, believe in God at very low cost.

Problems arise when people believe in wrong things even when the costs are very high. For instance, parents may doom a child to disability or death by believing in faith cures.

A more difficult problem is why people ever believe in things that are uncomfortable when the belief cannot help them in some way. For instance, a devout religious believer may still reject Creationism simply because the evidence is against it.

There is clearly more to be said on the subject.
Daigrel
Books about science, beliefs and religion can be divided into two types, those that are convincing and well written and those that are only well written. This book is one of the first type: it is well written and highly convincing. By "highly" convincing I mean the quality of the discussion, which is normally the place where the writer denotes his capacity to ponder and compare with equanimity different or opposing positions. This is the hard part and Michael Shermer (to me at least) has overcome the test.

Having read several books on the topic, this is at the height of one of the betters, which is "The trascendental temptation" by Paul Kurtz. Like Shermer, Kurtz was a secular humanist and a sceptic. In this vein, Shermer reinforces and complement also what Kurtz explains in his excellent work. This is not easy if you take into account the variety of topics that a challenge like this imposes: you have to cover from biology to history to politcs to economics. And Shermer not only is good in analyzing different perspectives but also in discussing them and giving you his own ideas.

Not an easy task, I repeat. It's easy to cover different topics without adding nothing new at all as it happens with a dictionary or a catalog. In this case you have an essay that includes, and even more, compromise the author with his ideas. Is he who is saying "this is what I think," and that demands courage and -on the same level- a deep understanding about what is said.

In sum: a perfect balance between extension and depth. Well suited for agnostics and believers who want to know what they have when they feel tempted to say "this is what I believe."
Ce
I really enjoyed reading this book. If you want to know better how your brain works, then this is the book for you. According to the author the brain is a belief engine and once the beliefs are formed, the brain begins to look for evidence in support of those beliefs. Our brains are the most complex information processing machines in the universe but at the same time we are also more capable than any other species of self-deception and illusion, of fooling ourselves even while trying to avoid being fooled.