Converting beliefs to “truths”

Michael Shermer‘s latest book looks interesting – The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths.

Chris Mooney interviews him about the book in the latest Point of Inquiry podcast (see Point of Inquiry or  download the MP3).

Shermer’s thesis is that with humans belief comes first – then we look of evidence to support that belief. I have often made the same claim – we are a rationalising species, not a rational one. There are good evolutionary reasons for this.

At first sight this seems a rather pessimistic thesis for a scientist and sceptic. However, in the book Shermer deals with the tools that science offers for overcoming this problem. For approaching a more objective knowledge of reality. He asserts that science is unique in this.

I have managed to get a copy and look forward to reading it.

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3 responses to “Converting beliefs to “truths”

  1. That’s two good books in a week. Jeff Bezos should thank you since I’ve just made him more rich because of you!

  2. I like your turn of phrase “we are a rationalising species, not a rational one”.

    Readers interested in the supporting moral parapsychology literature might start with Jonathan Haidt’s ” The Emotional Dog and its Rational Tail (in Psychological Review, 2001) Which can be downloaded for free at http://people.virginia.edu/~jdh6n/

  3. I also like Haidt’s metaphor of the rational rider on the unconscious elephant.

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