Why do we believe what we believe?

Derrick Farnell
Derrick Farnell
Total Posts:  9
Joined  24-09-2012
26 September 2012 13:57
GenerousGeorge - 25 September 2012 03:19 PM

Gotta think about that! I’ll see if I can get an appointment with my brain.


Total Posts:  13
Joined  06-04-2012
01 October 2012 11:48

You wrote: “Second, Spinoza’s proposal is that we believe a proposition upon it simply entering our mind, completely independently of the source of the proposition.”

So… off the top of my head, I’m assuming that the brain receives a “proposition” (someone telling us something) the same way it receives an “experience” (anything happening we can perceive in the world.)  Both are simply sensory data being interpreted.

In that case, the easiest answer seems most likely, we are wired to believe the reality of what we perceive… “That is a hole, don’t walk into it.”  “That is a pointy stick coming at you. Duck.”  “That is food, eat it.” 

We fundamentally survive by believing the world around us is real, then test what our senses tell us to see if true. “Eat it, maybe get sick, maybe not.” “Touch the pointy stick, verify it would hurt us.” etc.

Same thing for a proposition… it is just the outside reality informing our senses, but abstracted into the realm of language and ideas… still the same process in our brains. Accept that it is real (both the voice/sound and the words/meaning) and then test it through experience to validate or invalidate our perception.

I’m sure I’m missing something, but start with the simplest idea first.

Total Posts:  108
Joined  22-09-2012
01 October 2012 12:51

So far so good.  smile

Rami Rustom
Rami Rustom
Total Posts:  219
Joined  10-09-2012
08 October 2012 07:38
Derrick Farnell - 24 September 2012 05:19 AM


I’ve written an article which I believe presents a theoretical basis for concluding that we - and in fact any intelligent being - must form beliefs in the way that Spinoza suggested, and would be grateful for any feedback


Derrick grin

Hi Derrick,

Karl Popper already answered the question of “Why do we believe what we believe?” Its a matter of answering the question, “How is knowledge created,” which is the focus of the field of epistemology.

I’ve written a couple of articles answering these questions (using Popper’s epistemology) in the context of Muslims believing what they believe.

In this article, I explain Popper’s epistemology and the connection to how people learn (i.e. form their beliefs).

In this article, I explain the psychology of belief.

If you’d like to read Popper’s original paper, see “Conjectures and Refutations”:

If you’d like to read a simpler explanation of that epistemology, see “The Beginning of Infinity,” by David Deutsch:

If you’d like to join the discussion group for The Beginning of Infinity, which is where I learned all this stuff, join here:

Total Posts:  125
Joined  28-12-2011
20 November 2012 12:31

Sensory perception is always right/true, in the sense that it is the experience you are having, in other words, it is immediate to your experience, evaluations/judgments must always fellow perception and conception, not precede them. This being an immediate reactive response is most important to the element of survival.

[ Edited: 20 November 2012 12:36 by boagie]
Total Posts:  142
Joined  11-04-2013
06 May 2013 17:01
toombaru - 24 September 2012 08:46 AM
Derrick Farnell - 24 September 2012 05:19 AM


Sam Harris and co’s 2007 journal article ‘Functional Neuroimaging of Belief, Disbelief and Uncertainty’ provides empirical support for Spinoza’s proposal that we believe a proposition upon it simply entering our mind, and that it’s actually only disbelief which requires mental effort.

There’s also other empirical support for this theory, as outlined in Dan Gilbert’s 1991 journal article ‘How Mental Systems Believe’ (PDF).

However, I’m interested in the question of why belief should work this way, rather than whether it does.

I’ve written an article which I believe presents a theoretical basis for concluding that we - and in fact any intelligent being - must form beliefs in the way that Spinoza suggested, and would be grateful for any feedback

The first part of the article has been accepted by the popular-philosophy journal Think as a standalone article, and I’m wanting to submit the remainder as a standalone article.

It’s available on my site here:


Thanks in advance

Derrick grin

If parents tell a child that a tiger can kill then, non-belief has a very high price.
It they tell a child that god will kill them if they lie, the child will most likely survive it they utter an untruth.
The price for non-belief is higher than it is for belief.
And the brain has been wired accordingly.

The problem comes in when your belief system comes into conflict with another belief system and they both base there beliefs on an invisible sky god or something that cannot be demonstrably proven. So we need to rewire the brain ” education” to get rid of any beliefs that can not be demonstrably proven.

[ Edited: 09 May 2013 16:41 by Charwiz]
Total Posts:  185
Joined  18-03-2013
09 May 2013 06:50

Through the history of science, there has been a divide; one side says it’s a closed system of just physical media. The other side is an open system where physical media is a subset in nonphysical media. This debate has many great scientist on both sides. The evidence is starting to lean heavily toward the latter. (Evidence can be provided upon request)
All most all people, don’t realize this. Pop science has indoctrinated the first scenario. People believe pop science on faith. And pretend to have absolute knowledge. Many great scientist who actually did remarkable things leaned toward the latter.
Einstien - Consciousness somehow is at the fundamental cause of reality. Space and time cannot exist independent of us.
David Bohm - Consciousness and reality are not speratable.
Max Jammer- Space and physics is not independent of human thought. 
Karl Fredrich Gauss - 3d space is not to be an inherent quality of space, but a specific peculiarity of the human consciousness.
Eugene P. Wigner - Consciousness is the ultimate universal reality
Willis W Harmon - New Copernican Revolution
Werner Heisenberg - Revolution in modern physics
Dr. Edward Fredkin - Space time and matter are all consequences of informational process in the ultamite computer.
Tom Campbell - Theory of Everything, from digital physics
Edwin James -
Konrad Zuse
Stephen Woldfram
Seth Loyd
John Wheeler
Amit Goswami
Fred Wolf
Theist horribly have included the nonphysical media - to wizards and dogma etc. And don’t think it is a part of science. Human nature is to cling in fear groups and attack other groups. This prejudice and Theist vs. Pop science debate has been the worst thing to ever happen to science.
“This is the most critical element for the why we believe discussion”
Because in the Pop science view. The discussion is all about the brain; how the brain creates beliefs. In the latter view the discussion would turn to how and why the nonphysical media creates beliefs.
Here is a colorful example of what that means.
Imagine a world where everyone is a robot made out of gears and crank shafts and simple machinery.  To them their entire physical world is gears and machinery parts. But their minds are imbedded by Wi-Fi from the internet (nonphysical media). To them the internet mind is nonphysical because they do not possess computers to access that media. The internet media itself has a physical basis and is real. But to the gear people it is apparently nonphysical.
If those gear people had this discussion they would spend forever trying to explain their minds and beliefs by how gears must be getting hot in their head, or by some mechanistic reason involving gears and springs. 
I don’t want to interject much further: but mention, the power of experience. If I said jump out a tree and you will fly. Personal experience of gravity allows for the full consequence to be understood. Beliefs and thoughts become experience also. If somebody prays each night to avoid the clutches of the devil. Upon waking safely they have experienced the testament of their belief, and the fact that the devil didn’t get them is a consequential evidence of their belief.  Every time the mind gets to the fork in the road and is steered by belief it comes with mental consequences, and becomes experience. The driving force is peoples need to self-worship. If somebody finds out that their experience was incorrect. They must defy who they are, because they are the summation of their experience, and peoples self-worship won’t let them do that. It’s kind of like (A kid can’t read in a book how to be an adult, he must experience it for it to be his truth) Experience is required to change a belief.
You cannot change people’s minds. You have to change their experiences. So all problems seem to come from misinterpreting experience. Usually due to self-worship and fear.



Total Posts:  125
Joined  28-12-2011
27 May 2013 14:25

I believe that human organisms like their animal cousins are reactive creatures by nature, thus there really is no human action so to speak, but simply reaction, this too takes care of free will. As an organism one can react to a wide choice of stimulus, but one cannot chose NOT to react,  for even a consider inaction is a reaction to ones environment. This is probably the key to why belief is the first impulse, it is natural to believe ones own senses and react while being true to ones own biology, ones biological experience. As biology is the source of all meaning there must arise in that biology a doubt, for disbelief to arise, which would require another biological experience of a different nature from the same stimulus.

[ Edited: 28 May 2013 09:19 by boagie]