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Skeptic: Examining Extraordinary Claims and Promoting Science Skeptic: Examining Extraordinary Claims and Promoting Science

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The Believing Brain, by Michael Shermer

The Believing Brain, by Michael Shermer

Code: av233
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The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies
—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths

Synthesizing thirty years of research, Michael Shermer upends traditional thinking about how humans form beliefs about the world. Simply put, beliefs come first, and explanations for beliefs follow. The brain, Shermer argues, is a belief engine. Using data that flow in through the senses, the brain naturally looks for and finds patterns—and then infuses those patterns with meaning, forming beliefs. Once beliefs are formed, our brains subconsciously seek out confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, accelerating the process of reinforcing them—and round and round the process goes in a positive feedback loop. Shermer provides countless real-world examples of how this process operates, from politics, economics, and religion to conspiracy theories, the supernatural, and the paranormal. And ultimately, he demonstrates why science is the best tool ever devised to determine whether or not our beliefs match reality.

This DVD is one of five available from our Science Symposium held at Caltech in 2011. You can also order these other Science Symposium lectures:

  1. On Science Religion & Morality, by Michael Shermer (av234)
  2. The Future of Science, Technology, and Education, by Bill Nye and James Randi (av235)
  3. The Belief Changing Kit, a 3-DVD Set with Audience Q&A, with Nye, Randi, Dalton, Prothero
    (av236 includes av233, av234, and av235)
  4. Mr. Deity and Friends, with Brian Keith Dalton (av237)
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