Supersense: From Superstition to Religion - the Brain Science of Belief

Bruce Hood

Supersense: From Superstition to Religion - the Brain Science of Belief

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. In this book academic Bruce Hood presents an 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 realise why you are not as reasonable as you might like to think – and why that might be no bad thing. 3.0 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
Supersense: From Superstition to Religion - the Brain Science of Belief

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Psychology & Psychiatry
Format Paperback
Pages 320
RRP £8.99
Date of Publication May 2009
ISBN 978-1849010306
Publisher Constable
 

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. In this book academic Bruce Hood presents an 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 realise why you are not as reasonable as you might like to think – and why that might be no bad thing.

Reviews

The Guardian

Steven Poole

What he rather effortfully dubs our "supersense" is not a sense, but a "mind design" or innate tendency to interpret the world in terms of causation and intention, and thus to ascribe supernatural causes to random or otherwise explicable phenomena... The book ends with a strange, woolly plea for the preservation of supernatural beliefs in the form of "sacred values" on which social cohesion apparently depends. Well, it worked for the Nazis.

06/06/2009

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