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Supersense: From Superstition to Religion - The Brain Science of Belief (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Bruce Hood

Prix éditeur - format imprimé : EUR 13,03
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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

In an account chock full of real-world examples reinforced by experimental research, Hood’s marvelous book is an important contribution to the psychological literature that is revealing the actuality of our very irrational human nature. (Science)

[A] fascinating, timely and important book. . . . Hood’s presentation of the science behind our supersense is crystal clear and utterly engaging. (New Scientist)

An intriguing look at a feature of the human mind that is subtle in its operation but profound in its consequences. (Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Stuff of Thought)

Reading SuperSense is like having lunch with your favorite professor--the conversation spans religion, biology, psychology, philosophy, and early childhood development. One thing is for sure, you’ll never see the world in the same way again. (Ori Brafman, New York Times bestselling author of Sway)

In recent years, there has been a lot written about religion, superstition, and faith, but there has never been a book like this. . . SuperSense is a joy to read--beautifully written, deeply clever and funny, replete with brilliant insights and observations. (Paul BloomProfessor, Department of Psychology, Yale University Author of "Descartes' Baby: How the science of child development explains what makes us human")

Dr. Hood, a world-class scholar in the field of cognitive science, explains the many weird and wonderful ways that we humans naturally view the world as ruled by supernatural phenomena. Bruce Hood’s SuperSense is sensational. (Susan A. GelmanSusan A. GelmanSusan A. Gelman, author of The Essential Child)

Read this beautifully written book, and you will lose some childhood innocence about how the world works. But, it will leave you wiser about yourself, and what it is to be human. (Guy Claxton, author of Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: How Intelligence Increases When You Think Less)

Magical thinking is a defining feature of the human mind – the source of all that is sublime and absurd about our species. In this timely exploration of the psychology of irrational belief Bruce Hood pulls off the rare feat of being both authoritative and wonderfully entertaining. Brilliant. (Paul Broks, author of Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology)

A compelling account of how beliefs in the supernatural world spring from the natural way our minds make sense of our experiences. (Daniel M. Wegner, Harvard Professor of Psychology, author of The Illusion of Conscious Will)

If we understood our own irrationality, and why so many people believe in ghosts, spirits, and invisible powers, then we might be able to improve the way we think. With quirkily fun examples and fascinating experiments Bruce Hood explains why we can’t always escape our Supersense. (Dr. Susan Blackmore, author of Conversations on Consciousness)

Supersense is a terrifically fun read. But it is much more: though we may forever believe in ghosts, goblins and the beneficent deities, with a dose of skeptical scientific realism, a la Hood, there is hope that sanity will prevail. (Marc Hauser, Harvard College Professor, author of Moral Minds)

“...a fun and illuminating book.” (Newsweek)

“Hood’s treatise provides a much-needed counterbalance to hardcore skeptics by arguing that supersense, while not exactly grounded in rationality, ultimately gives our lives meaning.” (Booklist)

Présentation de l'éditeur

Why is it that Tony Blair always wore the same pair of shoes when answering Prime Minister's Questions? That John McEnroe notoriously refused to step on the white lines of a tennis court between points? And that President-elect Barack Obama played a game of basketball the morning of his victory in the Iowa primary, and continued the tradition the day of every following primary?

Superstitious habits are common. Do you ever cross your fingers, knock on wood, avoid walking under ladders, or step around black cats? Sentimental value often supersedes material worth. If someone offered to replace your childhood teddy bear or wedding ring with a brand new, exact replica, would you do it? How about £20 for trying on a jumper owned by Fred West?

Where do such feelings come from and why do most of us have them? Humans are born with brains designed to make sense of the world and that need for an explanation can lead to beliefs that go beyond reason. To be true they would have to be supernatural. With scientific education we learn that such beliefs are irrational but at an intuitive level they can be resistant to reason or lie dormant in otherwise sensible adults.

It now seems unlikely that any effort to get rid of supernatural beliefs or superstitious behaviours will be completely successful. This is not all bad news - such beliefs are a useful glue that binds us together as a society.

Combining brilliant insight with witty example Hood weaves a page-turning account of our 'supersense' that navigates a path through brain science, child development, popular culture, mental illness and the paranormal. After reading SuperSense, you will realize why you are not as reasonable as you might like to think - and why that might be no bad thing.


Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1183 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 338 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 1849010307
  • Editeur : Constable (1 juin 2009)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B002S0KBJK
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°129.968 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  36 commentaires
47 internautes sur 52 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 SuperSense - Unbelievably Useful And Awesome! 15 avril 2009
Par Pod Black - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Bruce M. Hood's SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable is the kind of book that is excellent for those after a thorough overview on superstitious belief or an enjoyable dip into issues and ideas like creationism, essentialism, dualism, intuitive reasoning and its limitations and so forth - and yet not feel as if they're slogging through a academic tome (there's just too much personality for it to be that dry... which may be the only criticism that I could raise if you expected this to be a book of just straight facts and references).

"This book is not meant to make you feel foolish or to encourage you to abandon your supersense [which, as Hood defines it, are naturally occurring irrational beliefs that are a by-product of human development]. Many facets of our behaviour and beliefs have no rational basis. Think of everything that makes us human, and you soon realize that there is much that calls into question our ability to be rational. Love, jealousy, humor and obsession, for instance, are all present in all of us, and even though we know that our beliefs and actions stemming from them can be unbalanced, we would still not want to lose our capacity to experience them. The same can be said for the supersense. So embrace it, learn where it comes from, and understand why it refuses to go away. Oh, and if you are a skeptic reading this book, thanks for getting this far". [page 36].

That last part is appears to be more addressed to readers who suit what Dr Caroline Watt (co-author of 'An Introduction to Parapsychology') discussed in a Skeptic Zone interview as a 'counter-advocate' to what could possibly be paranormal or supernatural events. The open-mindedness that skeptics pride themselves upon is most definitely being called upon in this book. If one does take on the book's thesis that this is a 'natural consequence' that results in 'shared sacred values' that may not draw upon rational behaviour - then one has to recognise that the counter-advocate stance needs to be abandoned. This makes it a book that will most definitely make the hard-core 'atheist equals skepticism' sorts blanch - but hopefully not deter them from getting the cultural and social education that Hood proffers (and one I personally think is much needed in terms of opening up dialogue and common ground regarding goals like human rights and consumer protection, et al).

Whilst keen readers (and researchers) on the topic of belief in the supernatural may have noticed that Robert L Park's 'Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science' was printed late last year, I would say Hood's SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable delves into current practices with an eager attitude and is plainly more extensive for essentially a similar price (nearly a hundred pages more in Supersense?). Maybe it's my judgment of the construction of a UK as opposed to a US text (although references within Supersense draw on international examples too), but as an Australian, I was more 'at ease' with Hood's overall tone and approach to anomalistic psychology. As researcher who is familiar with the likes of Stuart A. Vyse's seminal work 'Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition' and the perennially popular text by Michael Shermer, 'Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time', I would say that this is really more akin to Vyse's work with a straight-forward, confident approach that reminded me of Dr Ben Goldacre's extremely accessible Bad Science.

Although Park's 'Superstition', Shermer's 'Weird Things' and Hood's 'Supersense' all feature personal narrative flavoring the scientific references, 'Supersense' draws upon more recent news items and pop-culture references, along with the required historical background to 'why we believe as we do'. That's something Shermer, despite the re-release of 'Weird Things', hasn't really incorporated to a detailed extent. 'Supersense' also features a thorough index and footnotes that serve more than well enough for checking the source of quotes and examples. I should also point out that the breakdown of chapters, structured with subheadings and occasional photos (the chirpy-looking author standing outside a 'Bric-a-Brac' store, used to illustrate a rather poignant tale about the lure of 'collectibles') creates a lively mixture of academic prose and anecdotal examples. I wish more books drew upon these strengths when structuring a text on what can be a rather heavy psychology investigation.

It's a book that nods to the likes of Dr Richard Wiseman's Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things and yet has a far more philosophical message about acknowledging the pervasive but not necessarily 'requires windmill-tilting' superstitious beliefs prevalent across cultures, ages and creeds. Highly recommended if you're sick of trying to figure out how to politely settle some of the more garrulous distractions of the fundamentalist 'counter-advocate' sort.
19 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Good pop-science summer read 15 juin 2009
Par T. Megginson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable

I read a lot of popular evolutionary psychology, anthropology, history, and related books by people like Steven Pinker, Geoffrey Miller, Matt Ridley, Bryan Sykes, Jared Diamond and Richard Dawkins. If you're into these authors too, then this book is for you.

Hood's overview of the research behind our natural inclination towards superstition is well-written and easy to digest. He starts by pointing out that even the most intellectual among us has to contend with irrational fears and mystical beliefs -- the example being how most of his students will refuse to wear a sweater he tells them was once worn by a serial killer.

What I really liked about this book was Hood's position that we will never remove superstition from our lives, that it's just as much of a hard-wired instinct as language or pattern recognition. He takes a much more moderate stand on religion that Dawkins, who believes raising a kid with supernatural beliefs is intellectually abusive. Instead, Hood is one of those scientists who accepts that the best we can do is to better understand our irrational impulses and thereby improve the way we deal with them.

If you're a human nature geek like me, then put this book on your summer reading list. It's conversational and witty, with just enough new information to make it all worthwhile.

Hood is also a pretty accessible guy. I made a comment on his blog at [...] , and he got right back to me.

So here's your review, Bruce, as promised!
18 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Where Critical Thinking Meets The Lucky Fountain Pen 15 avril 2009
Par SkeptiKitty - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
"I can believe anything provided it is incredible." - Oscar Wilde

I have always been fascinated by the things that people believe especially when faced with rational explanations that make belief an exercise in the suspension of disbelief. When I am feeling particularly smarmy about the fact that I am a skeptical and rational creature who thinks critically, I remind myself that as I sit down to write anything of import, I always pull out my *lucky* fountain pen.

I ordered this book long before it was available because I enjoyed reading Bruce Hood's blog and was thrilled when it was finally published. The book was well worth the wait - it is a great read that makes a serious subject very approachable.

There is all manner of research showing how we believe including some fairly interesting research by NIMH, and while some would argue that learning the mechanism is the first step towards abolishing belief, I think that there is something to be said for having our lucky pens.

Bruce's book presents us with the whys, wherefores and need for beliefs that would on the surface appear to contradict the serious need for critical thinking.

I didn't agree with everything... but I am going to give it a place of honor on my favorite bookshelf between "Breaking the Spell" and "Why People Believe Weird Things".
20 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Enlightening, Entertaining, Insightful 19 avril 2009
Par CarolynB - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I live with a black cat and pass a battlefield, a haunted cemetery, a haunted hotel, and two haunted houses on my way to and from work without a second thought, so I like to think that I am not superstitious... but I also haven't put on a favorite blouse since I wore it when I had a bad car accident last year. It isn't that I think the blouse is bad luck but... well, no need to take chances... and besides, I can blame it all on my "supersense." "Supersense" is the tendency to "believe the unbelievable," or scientifically unprovable. Dr. Hood shows how our brains and minds are innately designed for such beliefs and that they begin very early in life. I have read, and fallen asleep reading, many cognitive science books, but I didn't fall asleep reading this one. In fact, I read this one all in one day because it is a real page-turner full of interesting insights as well as stories of bizarre and entertaining behavior. I was also fascinated by the information about how thinking in children develops and I hope that perhaps one day Dr. Hood will devote an entire book to his and others' findings on this topic. Dr. Hood finishes the book by explaining that while "supersense" may not be rational, it is, in some ways, necessary for creating the sacred values and connections that bind people into functioning communities and societies. So, whether you are interested in cognitive science, the paranormal, child development, weird and wild human behavior, or religion and spirituality, "Supersense" is highly recommended.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A good book on offtrail beliefs 12 juin 2009
Par E. N. Anderson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
This is one of a large number of books using recent psychological findings to explain persistent but wrong beliefs (often called by pejorative terms like "superstition").
What sets this one apart, beside the fact that it is delightfully written and thoroughly fun to read, is that it is relatively fair and nondismissive, and that it incorporates the author's important work on children. He goes into really interesting detail on children's knowledge of the world. They (we) are born with an astonishing amount of cognitive equipment, including extreme sensitivity to faces, sounds, and motions--the "tabula rasa" idea is long dead. They (we) then develop along lines predictable from genetically guided tendencies: all but the most severely damaged children learn language with incredible ease; all learn to recognize animals and other moving things with almost equal ease; all make pretty much the same oversimplifying mistakes in inferring how the world works.
Often, such mis-inference carries over into adulthood. The most important mis-inferences we make are essentializing--believing that, for instance, a murderer's sweater has evil essence in it--and assuming active, wilful agency in all events unless proven otherwise. The latter causes most belief in supernatural beings (spirits, gods, etc.).
Hood does not escape the problems of this general class of literature. First, though he pays some attention to the social and cultural side, he still explains belief as if it were basically an individual thing caused by natural individual mistakes. This doesn't even begin to account for socially constructed belief systems, like religion or astrology. Second, he has trouble bounding the set. Why do these books always drag in ghosts and telepathy but never bring in racism, a far more dangerous and ridiculous belief? These books also tend to confuse beliefs that are truly against all reasonable common sense, like the beliefs about the murderer's sweater, with beliefs that are on the face of them very reasonable. Consider astrology: we know the sun and the moon influence life here on earth, so ancient people plausibly reasoned that the stars must have smaller and subtler but equally real effects. It took a lot of proving to show that this sensible conclusion was wrong. From another angle, consider telepathy: most people can easily, accurately, and quite unconsciously infer others' feelings and attitudes from just talking to them for a few minutes. Before the discovery of mirror cells and other specialized social-inference systems in the brain, this was a genuinely "supernatural" ability--there was simply no known explanation for it. Oddly, Hood does not talk about mirror cells in his discussion of telepathy. Almost everyone knows that genuine mind-reading doesn't happen (think how embarrassing it would be for us males--we'd get slapped a lot), but everyone also knows about social intuition, and no one could explain it till very recently.
This is a fine book and deserves to be read, but I hope the next writers in this genre look seriously at how some wrong beliefs get so widely established and accepted, and even taken as religious truth, while others remain "mere superstition" and still others die out totally.
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