Discuss - How science explains belief

How science explains belief

This is an area which has interested me for some time -  how and why humans believe in gods, superstition, UFO's etc

This time we thought we could approach the meet up slightly differently. Instead of simply setting one book to read and then meeting to discuss it, as we usually do, this time I have referenced two books by different authors. Both of the books are supported by online talks by the authors, also referenced below.

This is not meant to be daunting.

The idea of this is NOT that you have to read both books and listen to all the lectures, although of course you can if you want.

Rather, this approach is intended to encourage you to come to the meeting and to feel that you can contribute even if you only have time to watch one of the lectures.

Here are the books:

The Believing Brain: From Spiritual Faiths to Political Convictions – How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths by Michael Shermer

Supersense: From Superstition to Religion - The Brain Science of Belief by Bruce Hood

Here are the online talks/lectures:

Michael Shermer

http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_shermer_the_pattern_behind_self_deception.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_shermer_on_believing_strange_things.html

Bruce Hood

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG7y6n6bOGk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Wgpprnqr5sI

I hope this will make for an interesting discussion - come along if you can!

Best,

Richard

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  • steve m.

    Very good discussion I thought.

    We discussed superstition and black cats.

    Can I therefore refer you to one of MGM's finest animation - 'Bad Luck Blackie: Paths Crossed - Bad Luck Guaranteed!'. Possibly Tex Avery finest hour as well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rmGC4vlEOU

    October 3, 2013

  • Lorri

    We sort of veered off into atheism last night, and how children are taught religion, so I thought I'd send this link to one of my favorite poems: http://www.uvm.edu/~lschnell/eng121/soundtrk/dunn.html

    Hope to see you on the 22nd :-)

    Lorri

    October 3, 2013

  • Samantha

    This will probably be my first 'meet up' and this is one of my favourite topics to read about - looking forward to a good discussion. I've just finished reading and really recommend Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks as it talks about the neurological basis of apparent religious experiences. See you all soon!

    September 15, 2013

    • Samantha

      Urgh, sorry guys, something's come up. Hopefully I'll be able to make another meetup soon. Have a great night!

      October 2, 2013

    • Richard P.

      Thanks Samantha. It was a good discussion. Hope to see you at another meeting.

      October 2, 2013

  • Greg

    sorry, I have to drop out - I think the idea of a choice of books and videos for this sort of discussion is a very good one though, and I hope to be able to join in in future ones

    October 2, 2013

    • Richard P.

      Thanks Greg. Sorry you won't be able to come and see you soon

      October 2, 2013

  • steve m.

    Richard - thanks for bringing TED onto our agenda - I've been a fan for some time and think we should track it more. There is now a TEDx Edinburgh. Slightly related to the upcoming discussion is the furore when mad pseudoscientist Rupert Sheldrake's talk was taken down from the TED website. Gripping stuff.
    http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/19/the-debate-about-rupert-sheldrakes-talk/

    `Now onto Oliver Sacks - "the man who mistook his patient for a book deal".

    September 16, 2013

    • Richard P.

      I think it good when there is a book and a talk.. it means people can sign up without worrying if they are going to have time to read the book. Steve. i think you've told that Sacks joke before... funny though it is....

      September 16, 2013

  • Marcella

    Never been to any Meetups yet but this sounds interesting

    September 16, 2013

  • Robert G.

    Working now I'm afraid!

    September 6, 2013

  • Bill M.

    Maybe the subject should have the title "how science seeks always to be the provider of every answer to every question" and although as you say Steve, proof or proving is a fairly radical concept, in science there has always been a power struggle to get the credit for "coming up with the right answer"

    September 4, 2013

  • steve m.

    Definitely up my street so include me in. Bill - Science is not based on 'proof' (a logical impossibility) but on some kind of evidence-based, experimentally tested plausibility. Philosophers have been arguing about this stuff for centuries. So you are right - more questions than answers...
    I'll reference Emile Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Don't read it (it goes on forever) but worth a Google.

    September 3, 2013

  • Robert G.

    Will try to make it along if shifts allow!

    September 3, 2013

  • Richard P.

    You are probably right Bill .. But at least we will have tried!

    September 2, 2013

  • Bill M.

    Seems a very interesting proposition. What is science? Why do we as humans believe something? Are we looking for science to provide absolute truth? What is proof? Does science prove or disprove? I presume that reading the lectures and the books and then attending the discussion group will leave more questions than answers - - - - -

    September 2, 2013

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