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978-0-393-06449-0 / 0393064492

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About the book:

A unique, scientific look into why we are all believers.

In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, the White Queen tells Alice that to believe in a wildly improbable fact she simply needs to "draw a long breath and shut [her] eyes." Alice finds this advice ridiculous. But don't almost all of us, at some time or another, engage in magical thinking? Seventy percent of Americans believe in angels; 13 percent of British scientists "touch wood"; 40 percent of Americans believe that astrology is scientific. And that is only the beginning.

In Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Lewis Wolpert tackles one of the most important causes on the horizon of public debate: the nature of belief. Looking at belief's psychological basis and its possible evolutionary origins in physical cause and effect, Wolpert expertly investigates what science can tell us about those concepts we are so sure of, covering everything from everyday beliefs that give coherence to our experiences, to religious beliefs, to paranormal beliefs for which there is no evidence.

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