On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not

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Macmillan, Mar 17, 2009 - Medical - 272 pages
26 Reviews

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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Review: On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not

User Review  - Steve - Goodreads

An intriguing and challenging book that will stay with me a long time, I think. The basic premise is that we are biologically incapable of "being certain." The being certain is actually a mental ... Read full review

Review: On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not

User Review  - Janet Eshenroder - Goodreads

The author carefully lays out current research showing that certainty is a mental sensation, rather than evidence of fact. "Because this 'feeling of knowing' seems like confirmation of knowledge, we ... Read full review

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Contents

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Copyright

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About the author (2009)

ROBERT BURTON, M.D. graduated from Yale University and University of California at San Francisco medical school. At age thirty-three, he was appointed chief of the Division of Neurology at Mt. Zion-UCSF Hospital, where he subsequently became Associate Chief of the Department of Neurosciences. His non-neurology writing career includes three critically acclaimed novels. He lives in Sausalito, CA.

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