Saturday, August 27, 2011

From The Believing Brain

The following is from a new book by Michael Shermer entitled The Believing Brain: From Ghosts to Gods to Politics and Conspiracies -- How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths.
Our brains evolved to connect the dots of our world into meaningful patterns that explain why things happen. 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 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.
How does one escape from a "positive feedback loop" which only serves to reinforce one's prior beliefs? I suspect the older one gets, the more difficult it is to escape. I remember coming to the conclusion that the Christian scheme of things did not make sense when I was around the age of 20. I was able to depart from it at that time.

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