Gendou's Reviews > The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths

The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer
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Sep 13, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction, atheism, philosophy
Read from September 07 to 13, 2011

A heart-felt and personal journey from superstitious pigeons to speculative cosmology.
Each chapter has a poetic and emotionally accessible summary, which is a nice touch.
I must say how well written and organized the book is; a rare thing these days!

While this book is weak on atheism (compared to, say, Dawkins), it gives a very genial reflection on the fragile nature of belief through examples of thinking gone awry.
For example, a link between anxiety and magical thinking is discussed.
Also discussed are the spurious belief tendencies labeled "patternicity" and "agenticity".

Shermer argues that anecdotal thinking comes naturally, while science requires training.
He also goes so far as to say "we are naturally born dualists".

Along the way the reader is given a respectable lecture on how neurons work, as well as proof that mind and brain are one.
I delighted in the book's rebuke of Deepak Chopra and his style of rhetoric designed to confuse the layperson.

In the last chapter, we get a wonderful lecture on cosmology and a very modern summary on the existential question.
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