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The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths by St. Martin's Griffin

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Synthesizing thirty years of research, psychologist and science historian Michael Shermer upends the conventional thinking about exactly how humans form beliefs about the world. Basically, beliefs precede and descriptions for beliefs follow. The brain, Shermer says, is a belief engine. Utilizing sensory data that flow in through the senses, the brain normally starts to look for and find patterns, then infuses those patterns with meaning, forming beliefs. Once beliefs are formed the brain starts to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, accelerating the procedure of enhancing them, and round and round the procedure enters a positive-feedback loop.

In The Believing Brain, Shermer offers countless real-world examples of exactly how this procedure operates, from politics, economics, and religion to conspiracy concepts, the supernatural, and the paranormal. And eventually, he shows why science is the very best device ever developed to identify whether or not our beliefs match reality.

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