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Download The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies - How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies - How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths (Unabridged) Audiobook, by Michael Shermer
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,093 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael Shermer Narrator: Michael Shermer Publisher: Michael Shermer/John Wagner Studios Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2011 ISBN:
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In this, his magnum opus, the world's best known skeptic and critical thinker, Dr. Michael Shermer - founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and perennial monthly columnist (Skeptic) for Scientific American - presents his comprehensive theory on how beliefs are born, formed, nourished, reinforced, challenged, changed, and extinguished. This book synthesizes Dr. Shermer's 30 years of research to answer the question of how and why we believe what we do in all aspects of our lives, from our suspicions and superstitions to our politics, economics, and social beliefs.

In this book Dr. Shermer is interested in more than just why people believe weird things, or why people believe this or that claim, but in why people believe anything at all. His thesis is straightforward: We form our beliefs for a variety of subjective, personal, emotional, and psychological reasons in the context of environments created by family, friends, colleagues, culture, and society at large; 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.

Dr. Shermer also explains the neuroscience behind our beliefs. The brain is a belief engine. 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. These meaningful patterns become beliefs. Once beliefs are formed, the brain begins to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, which adds an emotional boost of further confidence in the beliefs and thereby accelerates the process of reinforcing them - and round and round the process goes in a positive feedback loop of belief confirmation. Dr. Shermer outlines the numerous cognitive tools our brains engage to reinforce our beliefs as truths and to insure that we are always right.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Garret Seinen | 2/19/2014

    " He makes the case that humans have a tendency to believe something and then look for 'fact' to justify that belief. He explains why it is so difficult to move a committed individual from a position they have taken. Good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dave Maddock | 1/19/2014

    " The broader scope of this book from his previous is both a strength and weakness. His use of evolutionary psychology works as far as I can tell, but also strikes me as not very scientific in the Popperian sense which is somewhat ironic considering his argument. But, his main thesis--that rational supporting evidence for a belief tends to be accepted after a belief is adopted--I think is valid. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth Olson | 1/16/2014

    " Shermer's explanations of how the brain forms, chooses and bolsters belief, are clear and instructive. The book could have been half as long, though, as far too much of it is devoted to debunking specific beliefs such as conspiracy theories and belief in alien abduction -- examples that repeat the same evidence over and over again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine | 12/29/2013

    " At first I was afraid this was just another atheist rant (like the disappointing God Delusion by Dawkins). Fortunately, it shaped up to be much more interesting than that. yes, it preaches to the choir, and unless you are an absolute skeptic about everything, you will find yourself offended at some point when reading this. I am pretty skeptical myself, but there were a couple of passages that got to me in an unpleasant way anyway. What really won me over? Sheerer spends a few pages bashing Depak Chopra. Anyone whose level of distaste for Chopra exceeds mine is all right by me. Good book, but if you take yourself and all of your beliefs too seriously, I suggest you skip this one, else your feelings might get hurt. If you're able to accept that you might be just as wrong about what you hold so dear as anybody, you might find something here worth exploring. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rev. | 12/27/2013

    " Excellent read. Everyone should probably check this out. Shermer is very even handed, I feel, and though I don't agree with every single thing in the book, the idea - that our brains are more fallible than science - stands to reason. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stacy Moore | 12/27/2013

    " Like the Mooney book, but a bit less convincing. The fun part is that his exposition of his religious experiences, then conversion to "reason," and the justifications for those reasons, set up the readers explanation for why, as a Libertarian, Shermer is not over his delusions and make-believe yet. What he says makes sense, but what the author believes is not how he really thinks. Christianity will do that to a person. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rodney Hinds | 12/9/2013

    " I enjoyed the read and found many good talking points and I especially liked the section on 'near death and out of body' experiences. There was quite a bit of filler. :( It was worth the read even at the hefty price. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clarice | 11/23/2013

    " Reading this book was like someone telling you Santa Claus doesn't exist. A hard read, but learned lots about the human mind and our need for religion in our lives. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Phil Fragasso | 11/16/2013

    " Some good insights but not a lot of especially new information "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeffrey McKinley | 11/11/2013

    " (Read 3/25/13) Interesting book on the nature of belief and how the brain tricks us into believing absurd things. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tracy Black | 9/21/2013

    " Good book! I especially enjoyed Part II on the "Biology of Belief". It went into great detail on how beliefs are formed in the brain. It could have been very dry, but Shermer managed to make it come alive. Chapter 12 on "Confirmations of Belief" was also very interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tim | 10/10/2012

    " Michael Shermer is an excellent author. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Evan Knight | 6/6/2012

    " Not the best book I ever read, I learned a few things and then went home to research that concept more. Turns out the author didn't know what he was talking about. I agree with his premise. I just hold him to a higher standard then religious zealots or UFO-ologist. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Daniel | 5/19/2012

    " I'm only 100 pages in and I already think it's one of those books that ought to be required reading for you to get your license to exist. Of course, I fit right into his argument that we reinforce the "truths" that we already believe in..... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darin Stewart | 4/27/2012

    " An excellent summation and generalization of Shermer's thinking. He occasionally overreaches in his application (particularly in his chapters on Politics and Religion), but overall his reasoning is pretty solid and hard to argue against. Recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elizabeth | 10/22/2011

    " This is an amazing book that backs up everything with studies and research that I found fascinating. Rather than quibble about who is right and who is wrong this book goes deeper to ask WHY do we tend toward supernatural belief. A must read. "

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