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The psychology of belief.

Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:57 pm
by bindeweede
Here's a very interesting review of a new book by James. E Alcock -" Belief: What It Means to Believe and Why Our Convictions Are So Compelling", written by Dr Harriet Hall. Quite a comprehensive review, with a concluding section...
Building a firewall against folly

In a final chapter, he shows how we can all become better at critical thinking. He gives these eight rules:

Remember that we can all be fooled.
Be wary of your intuitions.
Be wary of the Fundamental Attribution Error, attributing people’s behavior to their characters and intentions while overlooking the power of the situation.
Be wary of validation by personal experience.
Don’t rely on a single source of information.
Don’t over-interpret correlations.
Ask “compared to what?” – a wine was rejected because it was found to contain two million asbestos particles per liter, but the concentration of asbestos particles in the city water supply was higher than that.
In the face of inadequate evidence, suspend judgment rather than jumping to conclusions.

Finally, he reminds us that critical thinking means we should be prepared to disagree with ourselves, which is never easy.

Dr Hall adds, "The book covers a huge variety of topics. It’s written in a style that is accessible and appealing to the lay audience yet rigorous enough to satisfy professionals. I think everyone would benefit from reading it. It is the equivalent of a psychology course and an owner’s manual for the brain; it explains how our minds work, how we come to believe the things we do and why it is hard to change those beliefs; it explains our biases and errors, and how critical thinking can help us distinguish true beliefs from false ones. It combines the latest scientific knowledge with the best incisive thinking. It provides insight into many of the problems facing our society. And it’s an entertaining encyclopedia of strange and false beliefs."

The review intimidates me a bit, but perhaps I shouldn't be put off. The UK Kindle version costs £8.27, and the hardback, (400 pages) £15.98 from Amazon, or £13.65 from Wordery.

Re: The psychology of belief.

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:23 am
by Tony.Williams
Sounds good. Books on this subject get published every now and then, which IMO is a Good Thing - it helps to reach new audiences. The one I recall from a decade ago was Thomas Gilovich's How We Know What Isn't So. I reviewed it on my blog here: http://sciencefictionfantasy.blogspot.c ... homas.html

Re: The psychology of belief.

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:21 pm
by chaggle
Wish I still read books - I was give Sagan's Demon-Haunted World for Christmas - got abut 10 pages in and then gave up for no good reason. My attention span is shortening with age - I don't watch films either.