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Publisher's Summary

Top 25 Books of 2011 by the American Library Association, Choice ReviewsNamed one of the 11 Best Psychology Books of 2011 by The Atlantic
Why is belief so hard to shake? Despite our best attempts to embrace rational thought and reject superstition, we often find ourselves appealing to unseen forces that guide our destiny, wondering who might be watching us as we go about our lives, and imagining what might come after death. In this lively and masterfully argued new book, Jesse Bering unveils the psychological underpinnings of why we believe.
Combining lucid accounts of surprising new studies with insights into literature, philosophy, and even pop culture, Bering gives us a narrative that is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking. He sheds light on such topics as our search for a predestined life purpose, our desire to read divine messages into natural disasters and other random occurrences, our visions of the afterlife, and our curiosity about how moral and immoral behavior are rewarded or punished in this life. Bering traces all of these beliefs and desires to a single trait of human psychology, known as the "theory of mind," which enables us to guess at the intentions and thoughts of others. He then takes this groundbreaking argument one step further, revealing how the instinct to believe in God and other unknowable forces gave early humans an evolutionary advantage. But now that these psychological illusions have outlasted their evolutionary purpose, Bering draws our attention to a whole new challenge: escaping them. Thanks to Bering's insight and wit, The Belief Instinct will reward readers with an enlightened understanding of the universal human tendency to believe-and the tools to break free.
©2011 Jesse Bering (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"A balanced and considered approach to this often inflammatory topic." ( Nature)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By juliagee on 01-02-15

engaging and insightful

Any additional comments?

Bering cites lots of creative research into the nature of beliefs and mind. This psychological perspective critically explores our belief tendencies and also respects the complexity of our human nature.

I appreciate his mixture of scientific, literary and historic references.

I saw a review critical of Bering's voice. I strongly disagree! There is a spirited quality authentic intelligence that comes through in the reading. I much prefer hearing the author's genuine voice over the smoothed out and phoney professional narrators used in some other audiobooks. That's one of the reasons I particularly enjoyed this book, and have come to the conclusion that I only want to buy audiobooks narrated by the author.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By john lestino on 07-06-15

Compelling, liberating and witty, too.

The title 'The Belief Instinct' took me to the audio verizon. Now, I plan to read with fascination more of Dr. Bering's insight and wit.

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