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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2013
Shermer distills a mass of evidence from the realms of psychology and neuroscience to explain what parts of the brain are associated with emotion, conflict resolution, creativity and belief. He uses the studies to illustrate his conjecture that belief comes first, and that the reasons for the beliefs we hold are developed afterwards.

The author is also keen to show that many unusual things that people experience, such as voices and visions, are simply the imagination of a tired, fearful or otherwise stressed mind. There is so much emphasis on this that the book sometimes reads like a diatribe against belief in the supernatural. It also meanders and rambles, and Shermer is overly fond of quoting himself (from his books, YouTube interviews and TV appearances).

The book redeems itself in the last few chapters, where Shermer is very good at showing how theory and observation complement each other in driving forward our understanding of the world. All in all, `The Believing Brain' is a passionate defence of the scientific method. Though Shermer is humble enough to acknowledge that science doesn't have, and may never have, all the answers, he makes a strong case for it being the best tool we have for making sense of the world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2014
Its clear why he is one of the four horsemen. This was a fantastic book. Shermer wastes no words in explaining his premises to the utmost, whilst deconstructing opposing views.

Highly recommended to anyone who wants to know how people generated beliefs, even their own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 February 2013
A fascinating explanation of why we are always unaware of our own prejudices and how the scientific method can try to eliminate bias.
Interesting links between science and philosophy, our political views and religious beliefs.
I would thoroughly recommmend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 2013
An excellent book that showed if you can become risk intelligent like the author you can see beyond your own believing narrative. This is the next big phase for science, showing us how to climb out of our well worn paths to see all off the others that are out there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 November 2014
My grandfather used to say "never let the facts get in the way of a good story". This is a book of facts that make a great story.

Well done Michael, you have done the human race proud.
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on 25 June 2015
A great, well-referenced book. I found very useful for a college assignment, but also an engaging read for amusement.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This book is rather frustrating as the author indulges in a wide range of rambling and often irrelevant material. For example, the whole of Part 1 is not needed at all; the interesting ideas are introduced in Part 2. The concepts of patternicity and agenticity do make sense and are appropriately argued with varying degrees of rigour. The book presents theory and illustrates it with examples so the needs of both strongly conceptual and practical readers are met. Part 2 is by far the most interesting part of the book. Then it goes down hill as we are introduced to concepts such as afterlife, aliens and conspiracy theories. The text is long and makes its points slowly and with insufficient care and attention. It rather loses its way. The book makes pretences to be informed by academic research from psychology but senses that this has been done very selectively and without full regard to the body of knowledge and established concepts in this field.

On the whole this book is a disappointment. There are some interesting points in here, but they could have been made in a book of about one third of the length.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2013
We must have all wondered why people believe the unbelievable, especially in the face of clear evidence that those dearly held beliefs have no foundation in fact. Michael Shermer's book explains, with the benefit of extensively quoted research, how those beliefs come to be held.
So for those of you who have tried arguing with a religious fundamentalist and ended up tearing your hair out in frustration at their lunatic beliefs, this book will explain very clearly why you are wasting your time :-)
It s a very good read.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 30 July 2013
This book was great for the first few chapters. Giving you things to think about and making you question the world as we know it! However after the first one or two chapters the book repeats the same main points and messages over and over just in different contexts.
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on 27 March 2015
very interesting volume
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