Zest For Life

The Believing Brain

In my last  blogpost, we looked  at “Prosperity and Good Health”.  To have Prosperity and Good Health in your life, you need to take care of your mental state of mind and exercise good health practice daily.

(If you missed last week’s posting – click here to access it)


This week topic is  about “The Believing Brain” by Michael Shermer.

What makes a particular belief justified?

Synthesizing thirty years of research, psychologist and science historian Michael Shermer upends the traditional thinking abut how we form the beliefs that define us. Simply put, beliefs come first and explanations for beliefs follow. Our brains find patterns in the world and infuse them with meaning until they become beliefs. From then on, we seek out confirmatory evidence to support those beliefs, reinforcing them.


I want to believe

Reality exists independent of human minds, but our understanding of it depends upon the beliefs we hold at any given time.

– The tendency to find meaningful patterns in both meaningful and meaningless data. eg. Bxlixvx – Believe;

– The tendency to infuse patterns with meaning, intention, dots of our world into meaningful patterns that explain why things happen.

eg. I wore a red polo T-shirt. I won a golf tournament. Each time, I wear a red polo T-shirt, I always appear on the winning podium in top three.


These meaningful patterns become beliefs, and these beliefs shape our understanding of reality. Once beliefs are formed, the brain begins to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, which adds as 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.



Can I not believe?

In fact, all models of the world, not just scientific models, are foundational to our beliefs, and belief-dependent realism means that we cannot escape this epistemological trap.

We can, however employ the tools of science, which are designed to test whether or not a particular model or belief about reality matches observations made not just by ourselves but by other as well.

Such belief reversals are so rare in religion and politics as to generate headlines. Eg. someone prominent, such as a cleric who changes religion or renounces his or her faith, or a politician who changes party or goes independent.


Be slow in choosing, but slower in change. – Anonymous

Never make a defence or apology before you are accused. – Charles I, 1600-49, King of England, Scotland and Ireland

You can’t always get what you want; But if you try sometimes, You just might find; You get what you need. – Mick {Michael Philip] jagger, 1943-, Keith Richards, 1943-, British rock musicians

Never say anything remarkable. It is sure to be wrong. – William Hale White {pseudonym Mark Rutherford], 1831-1944, English writer


Weaving through politics, religion, conspiracy theories and even the supernatural, Shermer shows how science is essential in judging how justified we are in what we believe.


if you like to know more about his book, “The Believing Brain”, click below.

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



In my next blogpost in about 7 days time, I will talk about “The Rules to Break” by Richard Templar.


Bye from now.


Reuben H C Ong (a.k.a Reubeno)

Website: http://www.reubenointernet.com/

Email: reubeno@zestinlife.com




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