Michael Shermer’s skeptical take on the brain: can you believe it?

May 25, 2011

Besides having sex for pleasure and cooking food before ingestion, there is one other way in which humans differentiate from the rest of the animal kingdom: our big, believing brains. Michael Shermer, the founder of Skeptic magazine, attempts to explore this heady notion in his new book The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies – How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. Shermer argues that the brain is a “belief engine,” and it is hardwired to construct a belief system as a way of assigning patterns and meaning to the surrounding world. Actual explanations for these beliefs, he argues, come later, after the beliefs have already been formed. What do you think about Shermer’s take on brains? What, more importantly, do you believe?

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