Thursday, May 17, 2018

G1002 belief; what it means to believe and why our convictions are so compelling

Title of the book: belief; what it means to believe and why our convictions are so compelling

Author: James e Alcock

Publisher: Prometheus Books

Publishing Date: 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63388-403-8


An expert on the psychology of belief examines how our thoughts and feelings, actions and reactions, respond not to the world as it actually is but to the world as we believe it to be.

This book explores the psychology of belief - how beliefs are formed, how they are influenced both by internal factors, such as perception, memory, reason, emotion, and prior beliefs, as well as external factors, such as experience, identification with a group, social pressure, and manipulation. It also reveals how vulnerable beliefs are to error, and how they can be held with great confidence even when factually false.

The author, a social psychologist who specializes in the psychology of belief, elucidates how the brain and nervous system function to create the perceptions, memories, and emotions that shape belief. He explains how and why distorted perceptions, false memories, and inappropriate emotional reactions that sometimes lead us to embrace false beliefs are natural products of mental functioning. He also shows why it is so difficult to change our beliefs when they collide with contradictions.

Covering a wide range -- from self-perception and the perceived validity of everyday experience to paranormal, religious, and even fatal beliefs--the book demonstrates how crucial beliefs are to molding our experience and why they have such a powerful hold on our behavior.

Author Info:
(From the book)

James E. Alcock, PhD, is professor of psychology at York University in Toronto and the author of many books, book chapters, and articles on social psychology and the psychology of belief, most recently An Introduction to Social Psychology (With Stan Sadava.) He is also a registered clinical psychologist who works in private practice. He is on the executive council of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and on the editorial board of Skeptical Inquirer. His previous work includes a special research project on paraspsychology for the National Academy of Sciences.

Personal Opinion:

Awhile ago, I attempted to read Plato's The Republic, which I enjoyed a little, but because at the time I didn't feel ready, I decided not to keep reading the story. The Republic covered justice and how justice became entangled in small as well as major details. This book is a bit similar in that; the author takes a simple word, belief, but he stretches out into a 500 page topic that dares to leave no stone un-turned in the quest of trying to understand why we are the way we are. While highly informative and entertaining, I will mention that the author does tend to dismiss the idea of supernatural/paranormal occurrences, that is he does explain what they are as well as the beliefs, but if they happen supernaturally is often dismissed. The writing is tailored to an everyday reader rather than an academic and if one finds psychology fascinating or is looking for a quick refresher of how minds work or is curious about various beliefs that human beings hold, then this is an excellent book to get.

This was given for an honest review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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