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The Science of Superstition: How the Developing Brain Creates Supernatural Beliefs

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  83 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
In The Science of Superstition, cognitive psychologist Bruce Hood examines the ways in which humans understand the supernatural, revealing what makes us believe in the unbelievable.

*Previously published as SuperSense.
ebook, 320 pages
Published June 29th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books
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Oct 22, 2010 Mister rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm certainly interested in the topic of the book - a cognitive scientist writing about how the biological structure and the early development of a child's brain gives us humans a propensity for believing in irrational things, but I really loathe the author's tunnel-vision in support of the idea. For example, he argues early in the book that people wouldn't wear a murderer's sweater because of a superstitious belief that they would be tainted by its evil (working from the same principle as a goo ...more
May 26, 2011 Forrest rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cbriii
I’ve always enjoyed vigorous debate with those who don’t share my particular spiritual point of view. While none of the people I’ve had good conversations with have fit into the most extreme fundamentalist brackets, I have noticed that more evangelical Christians seem to enjoy a kind of thinking that is circular at best. I try not to just write these people off out of hand. Their experiences are unknown to me and there may be very good and rational explanations for their unshakable faith.

Well, i
What a very interesting book on superstition. This book is about the natural "sense" we have that attributes supernatural elements to our lives despite all of our scientific advances. It comes from our incredible ability, our "supersense", in recognizing patterns and inferring cause and effect. We are so good at it that we attribute cause to an effect even when it doesn't really exist. This supersense is also what allows us to have more cohesive relationships, but we have to be careful, too, tha ...more
Sep 27, 2015 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Science of Superstition is more of an argument or food for thought than it is an explanation of current science research. It's not bad, but it tends to be a little thin. Hood backs up his conclusions with endnotes pointing towards one study or experiment at a time, and curiously doesn't address meta-analysis of several studies. His book doesn't necessarily need this analysis, but I felt Hood would have been better off to at least mention the importance of considering multiple studies before ...more
Elizabeth Rose
Jan 16, 2016 Elizabeth Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The Science of Superstition is a compelling read that lays out a convincing argument that superstition is rooted in the intuitive reasoning process of infants and thus, systemic to the human mind. Hood opens with the position that magical thinking cannot be entirely eradicated from anyone no matter how advanced technology gets or how much logic appears to hold sway over one's decision making. Nearly all people, no matter how rational they think they are, will always harbor illogical beliefs, eve ...more
Feb 06, 2012 Amber rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book because my sister checked it out from the library one week, and seeing a book titled "The Science of Superstition", I expected nothing less than science, sort of like a Discovery-channel type of thing, in this case a look into superstitions. What I got instead was highly opinionated philosophy presented in a very condescending, matter-of-fact attitude. I did not read the entire book, I'll admit, but I read from a few different chapters. The author's attitude rubbed me the w ...more
Apr 25, 2011 Mia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, read-2011
I really liked the combination of curiosity, thoughtfulness and scientific approach, and the sense of openness to questions and possibilities. The evidence that irrational beliefs has little to do with intelligence, anddemonstration beliefs held by people who are not religious or superstitious was particularly useful. The one drawback occurs when the author seems to overreach in his speculations of why we believe things. Certain habits are treated as innate where they may actually be culturally ...more
Nenia *War of the Adorables* Campbell
You can read more of my reviews, faster, at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.

My dad is really interested in parapsychology and pseudoscience, so I thought this might make a nice Christmas present. However, I elected to read it first because he is super picky about the books that he reads and I wanted to make sure it wasn't stupid.

First off, I got this book mixed up with the similarly titled but infinitely more popular book by Michael Shermer,Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superst
Dec 17, 2015 Dissociated rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you think you are not superstitious, this book would make you think again. If you think you're superstitious this book will tell you why you are. What left me amazed is the biological basis of 'Supersense'. For a book which explores such depths, the style of writing is simplistic, sensitive and friendly. A must-read.
Amanda Wulf
Dec 14, 2015 Amanda Wulf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read. The book talks about how we develop supernatural thinking intuitively as children and it remains dormant within us even after we become educated. Lots of references to the latest psychological research as well, which I appreciate.
Marc Resnick
As with many books in this genre, I was fascinated by many of the conclusions, but disappointed with how oversimplified the science is presented. But that is actually a plus, because I know for most people, simplified is a good thing.
Hayley Dunning
Somewhat jumbled, amicable but not epic.
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I was born in Toronto, Canada, and my middle name is MacFarlane. This a legacy of my Scottish heritage on my father's side. My mother is Australian and has the very unusual first name of Loyale. I used to believe for many years that she had two sisters called Hope and Faith, but that was just my fertile imagination. Why Toronto I hear you ask. My father was a journalist and plied his art on variou ...more
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“We can all talk to the dead. It’s getting them to talk back that’s the hard part.”2” 3 likes
“The brain creates both the mind and the body we experience. A physical thing creates the mental world we inhabit.” 1 likes
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