In this episode, we sit down with neurologist Robert Burton, author of On Being Certain, a book that fundamentally changed the way I think about what a belief actually is. That’s because the book posits that conclusions are not conscious choices and certainty is not even a thought process. Certainty and similar states of “knowing,” as he puts it, are “sensations that feel like thoughts, but arise out of involuntary brain mechanisms that function independently of reason.”
FROM THE PUBLISHER:
You recognize when you know something for certain, right? You “know” the sky is blue, or that the traffic light had turned green, or where you were on the morning of September 11, 2001–you know these things, well, because you just do.
In On Being Certain, neurologist Robert Burton shows that feeling certain—feeling that we know something— is a mental sensation, rather than evidence of fact. An increasing body of evidence suggests that feelings such as certainty stem from primitive areas of the brain and are independent of active, conscious reflection and reasoning. In other words, the feeling of knowing happens to us; we cannot make it happen.
Bringing together cutting-edge neuroscience, experimental data, and fascinating anecdotes, Robert Burton explores the inconsistent and sometimes paradoxical relationship between our thoughts and what we actually know. Provocative and groundbreaking, On Being Certain challenges what we know (or think we know) about the mind, knowledge, and reason.
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