Synthesizing thirty years of research, Michael Shermer upends traditional thinking about how humans form beliefs about the world. The brain, Shermer argues, is a belief engine. Using sensory 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.
Michael Brant Shermer, PhD is an American science writer, historian of science, founder of The Skeptics Society, and Editor in Chief of its magazine Skeptic, which is largely devoted to investigating pseudoscientific and supernatural claims. Dr. Shermer also writes a monthly column for Scientific American and is an Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University and the author of several bestselling books.
Sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Human Values, LiteracyStudies@OSU, Department of Entomology, Undergraduate Philosophy Club, A7, and STEM Initiatives. This event is part of the First Year Experience Success Series.