This book is suppose to be about the "believing brain", but less than half the book has anything to do with such topic. Perhaps that is because publishers force authors to use catchy titles, so the book will sell.
For example, the author delves into the Big Bang theory of the universe and multiverses; and he rambles on and on about other irrelevant topics, as if to ensure his text is long enough to be a book. Otherwise, had the author only discussed "believing brain", the audio book could have been one hour instead of several hours.
Audio books also sound better when read professionally, instead of being read by their author. This is another one of those that is read by the author. One annoyances is its inappropriate use of music at the beginning and end of each chapter. It makes spoken words difficult to understand for a few minutes, until the music stops.
Good book but the Narrator sounds to much like Kermit the frog. Extremely distracting. I will be watching out for books read by him.
I was skeptical of this book at first. Then I really got into it. And found myself nodding along as I listened. Perhaps I was merely subdued by my innate confirmation bias... ;-) Good stuff.
First, let me get the performance aspect out of the way. Some of the other reviews are pretty hard on Mr. Shermer's efforts here at reading his own work. While it's true that the reading is not as good as one done by a more professional reader, it's still perfectly acceptable and doesn't distract.
Now, on to the content!
In the subtitle, Shermer lists the main topics he will touch on: ghosts, gods, politics, and conspiracies. I am familiar with Shermer's work in the excellent book "Why People Believe Weird Things" as well as an occasion article I've read, so I felt like I knew what I was getting into, and I did with 1 minor exception.
I did get what I expected in the ghosts, gods, and conspiracies: a clear approach to understanding and explaining why people believe in such nonsensical flights of fancy, with lots of examples, references to current research and well-thought out arguments. I found the underlying question of "why do people believe in _anything_" quite rich and fascinating, and handled well.
Those are the "3 out of 4 well-covered"...
I was very disappointed in the political treatment. Shermer dropped the ball here in a 2 ways.
For one, Shermer strongly promoted his Libertarian viewpoint. Without getting into the details, if you've ran across Libertarian discourses on the internet (and if you are on a message board of any substantial size, I know you have), you've heard everything Shermer has to say on that political position. I don't think any well-read person will hear anything new here, regardless of what politics you hold.
The larger disappointment, which only makes the Libertarian focus worse, was an over-reliance on putting political discussion into the left-right American political spectrum. Only after a long initial discussion confined to the American left-right spectrum, did we get a few brief sentences on a larger global perspective on politics, and then only to simplify them down into the same American left-right spectrum. There was virtually no consideration given to political thought outside of a strict American perspective.
Badly managed and highly disappointed with the political topic handling, I must say.
However, the rest of the content was quite well done, and even the political stuff was worth listening to, if only to reinforce my own personal theory that there is no such thing as true intellectual or rational commentary possible on modern American politics, from any perspective!
Overall, this is a skeptical book written by a deep thinking skeptic, and if that sort of thing is of interest to you, this is worth a listen.
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
I was knocked out once. Nothing. Can't even remember the time I was out. I am guessing death is the same. I am also finding this book to back up a lot of my other ideas. Your brain has to make sense out of the world, stimuli and memories and so fills it in with voices, ghosts and flying saucers. Then you have to make up a reason for all this, after all it can't just be me otherwise I would fit in better, surely! Well Michael Shemer explains it all, lost me a little in the bit about the universe and alternative universes, but I will go back to that another time. Once you listen to Michael, who narrates his (not the best to listen to but passable) book, you start to see that it might just be time to stop believing and get on with it, living that is. He dose not say it does not exist, but as a scientist, or at least someone using science, just because it does not have a normal reason does not mean it is supernormal, it means we just don't have a normal answer yet. Worth listening to and once you have, you can discuss with your brainy intelligent friends his theories and feel a little more wiser than the 'spoon benders'.
Great listen. Clear, concise, contemporary and relevant, but doesn't take itself too seriously. It's informative without being preachy. I am changing my list of who I would MOST LIKE TO HAVE LUNCH WITH...Michael Shermer is now on my A-lst.
Michael gave logical explanations for some of the most fanciful beliefs. Anyone who considers themselves to be superstitious or, knowingly believes in fanciful ideas should listen to this.
No, if anything it has encouraged me to listen to more.
I think it was just nice to hear it read by the person who wrote it. He read it well, stressing points where HE wanted to emphasise.
This book compares favorably alongside David Eagleman's "Incognito" and Michael Gazzaniga's "Who's in Charge". In some ways, this book is not quite as great as those two, mostly because it's a little too long, and gets dull toward the middle (but hang on, because it picks back up later).
I give this book 4 stars instead of 5 only because I thought the book was too long. There are a few parts that are a little repetitive. I would have to say, read the other books I mentioned first, especially "Incognito", which has been my favorite book on this topic.
Instead of just saying that conspiracy theorists are nuts, the author does an outstanding job of explaining how otherwise intelligent, rational people can end up believing things that are either patently false or, at best, highly unlikely. The only reason you should doubt his reasoning would be if you do not believe in the scientific method. If you do, then the his arguments are solid and quite well-explained. If you somehow don't believe in the scientific method, well, I'm not sure what to say about that but you probably won't like this book or much about modern society in general.
My only quibble is that the last few chapters, while interesting, seem incongruous with the rest of the book. This shouldn't stop you from buying the book nor listening to it all of the way through, but it's just a warning in case you find yourself asking what is the point he is trying to make and what does it have to do with the Believing Brain?
without hesitation. It allows the reader to look at different beliefs/superstitions from the outside