In the 1999 science-fantasy film The Matrix, people have been plugged into a giant computer that creates a virtual reality that is both pleasing and plausible. We implicitly trust the products of our brains — our perceptions, our memories, our judgments, our sense of self. Although we like to think of ourselves as rational beings, our brains covertly strive to create for us a view of the world and of ourselves that is self serving but not necessarily consistent with reality. Motivated skepticism can even lead to belief polarization, a process whereby counterevidence only strengthens the convictions of our beliefs. Our brains also trick us into believing we have more control over situations than we really do. One of the strongest points of this book is the way Fine deftly describes how research is done in psychology. Many Skeptic readers are all too aware of The Secret, a slick repackaging of the principles of New Thought and Unity Christianity. In this debate on what are arguably two of the most important questions in the culture wars today — Is Religion a Force for Good or Evil? Did you know that you can support the work of the Skeptics Society by donating to us via PayPal or eBay? Shop at Amazon using our affiliate links, and the Skeptics Society will receive a small commission from your purchase. Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic. What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and why do they tend to proliferate? Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation. In this eye-opening exploration, Shermer uncovers the evolutionary roots of our economic behavior and explains how evolution shaped the modern economy. If you are trying to post, the administrator may have disabled your account, or it may be awaiting activation.
According to the latest physics theories, our universe has been expanding at an ever increasing rate ever since the Big Bang, and that rate will continue to increase.
Even better, though, in another part of the infinite cosmos, Batman is real, and he is kicking crime’s ass. Weaving the great tangle of alternate histories into a coherent ultimate timeline is both an art and a science, and it is a gift that I believe God has blessed me with. If the universe we think we know is a shadow of the one true universe, then the one true universe shouldn’t deviate too much from our own, or it would become unrecognizable. I have a pretty high threshold, but even I have my breaking point, so the moronically bad story lines just never happened. Nature fantasy with trees, a sunburst, stars, and streaming lights created with photomanipulation. Order lecture recordings of your favorite scientists and skeptics, including: James Randi, Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Steven Pinker, Carol Tavris, Philip Zimbardo, Michael Shermer, Jared Diamond, Nancy Segal, Frank Sulloway, Victor Stenger, Susan Blackmore, Jack Horner, Robert Zubrin, Donald Prothero, Lawrence Krauss, John McWhorter, Timothy Ferris, Peter Ward, Robert Kirshner, Christof Koch, David Brin, Edward Tufte, Michio Kaku, Bill Nye (the science guy), and dozens more.

A few renegade humans have unplugged themselves from the Matrix, only to wake up to a miserable underground existence below a war-scorched Earth. Beliefs and opinions are formed quickly and become part of how we define ourselves, so the brain selectively perceives and recalls evidence that supports cherished beliefs while disregarding or forgetting evidence that contradicts our beliefs. The counterevidence is strenuously scrutinized for any weakness, which is then used to diminish the validity of evidence for our opponent’s point of view.
In a condition known as Capgras syndrome, patients no longer feel any sort of arousal in the presence of family members, and so they become convinced that their loved ones have been replaced by impostors. She does not just tell what is known about how the brain deceives, she explains how we know it. So what if we think we are more intelligent or virtuous than others and believe we are more in control than we really are? Randel Helms discusses these contradictions by looking at the cultural and historical factors that produced them. Are you trying to edit someone else's post, access administrative features or some other privileged system? Scientists think that eventually, the universe will have existed so mind-bogglingly long and be expanding at so mind-bogglingly fast a rate that it will rip itself apart. I love Doctor Who, I really do, but if you start introducing time travel, even just a little, everything unravels into an incoherent mess.
Our lecture series is a veritable Who’s Who in science, and now you can see their lectures first hand on VHS tape. You get to screen as many buckets of fresh material from the mine as you like and keep any gems you find! David Ludden is an associate professor of psychology at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky, where he teaches courses in cognitive, physiological and evolutionary psychology. In a similar fashion, our brains generate a comforting version of reality that protects us from the desolation and despair of the real world.
We also feel safer driving than flying because we think we are in control behind the steering wheel. People who cannot experience arousal during the decision making process, for example, become incapable of making decisions or consistently make poor choices. Others lose the ability to feel emotion altogether; they also feel detached from themselves and lose all interest in life. As with any other behavior, modes of thinking can be practiced until they become automatic, and so Fine is hopeful that practice in critical thinking can help guard us from the extravagances of our own brains. In friendly terms, she presents hypotheses to test, clearly describes how experiments are set up, and shows us how reasonable conclusions are drawn from the data. Such minor self-deceptions are, for the most part, harmless, and they may help us to get through the day. We may be receiving light today from a galaxy that was 10 billion light years away from us 10 billion years ago, but today, thanks to expansion, that galaxy is more like 30 billion light years away. Keep in mind that at this point nothing will exist but black holes and they will be so far spread apart that any stray photons they would happen to emit would never reach each other.

These tapes are being discontinued as all lectures will now be available only on DVD, CDs, and audio cassettes. More than half a century of cognitive and social psychology research has shown that much of what we see, remember, and think is an illusion. These are caused largely by selective memory, in which we remember only supporting examples but not counterexamples. It seems that the gut feeling we get when faced with a choice is more important than any rational decision-making process. Even healthy individuals experience this depersonalization sometimes, particularly during traumatic experiences. Thus, she demonstrates how the scientific method can be used to overcome our false beliefs and misconceptions. Notice to our regular lecture goers: we have raised our prices for the first time in 15 years. But the cool thing is this: you know what happens when you rip a nearly infinite number of black holes spread nearly infinitely far apart?
In her new book A Mind of its Own, Cordelia Fine lays out in a highly entertaining fashion the myriad ways in which our vain, immoral, pig-headed brains are constantly deceiving us.
For instance, if you already believe the stereotype that all Asians are shy, you will only recall experiences that support this stereotype. For instance, we take the credit for picking a winning lottery ticket, but blame a losing ticket on bad luck. Afterward, people report a feeling of detachment from the events around them and even from themselves.
You get an infinite number of Big Bangs, creating an infinite number of new universes that will start the process all over again. It is a universe like our own, but turned up to 11, where all of the coolest things imaginable are all mashed together and coexist side by side in the real world.
It would seem that going through life deluded by our own brains would not be a good thing, but that is not necessarily the case. Some people have markedly more balanced self-perceptions than normal people — they know clearly what their limitations are and how little control they actually have over their lives.
They are also clinically depressed, and seeing reality for what it is, they become overwhelmed and lose the desire to go on living. So it seems that our brains delude us to keep us happy, healthy and ready to face life’s challenges.

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