Chapter 5

Causes of Belief

Jonathan Leicester


The things that lead people to form beliefs are described. Among the factors discussed are the difficulties in using evidence well, the failure to withhold judgement, vacillating belief, the unconscious biases in reasoning, the tendency to wishful believing, the reluctance to change prior beliefs, the influence of shared beliefs of a community or group, the contrast between direct experience and testimony, how language is used, the effects of repetition and propaganda, personality, ego defence mechanisms, mood and emotion, mystical thinking, revelation, and natural credulity. A section on intelligence explains how high intelligence gives poor protection from holding foolish beliefs, with examples of mistaken beliefs of gifted people.

Total Pages: 42-65 (24)

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