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EWU Welcomes Shermer

CHENEY, Washington - One of the world's best-known skeptics will present his fascinating theory on how and why we believe what we do as part of The President's Forum for Critical Thought at Eastern Washington University on Thursday, Nov. 9.   

New York Times bestselling author Michael Shermer is a historian of science and founder of the Skeptics Society as well as editor in chief of the magazine Skeptic. During his visit, Shermer will discuss themes from his book The Believing Brain, a comprehensive and provocative theory on how beliefs are born, formed, reinforced, challenged, changed and extinguished.  

The lecture will be at 7 p.m., at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox in Spokane. Public admission is free and will include a book signing. Earlier in the day Shermer will also speak at a special campus event for students, faculty and staff. 

Shermer draws upon his 30 years as a psychologist historian of science to challenge the traditional thinking about how humans form their beliefs. Simply put, beliefs come first and explanations for beliefs follow. From sensory data flowing in through the senses, Shermer argues the brain naturally begins to look for and find patterns, and then infuses those patterns with meaning. He contends once beliefs are formed the brain begins to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, which accelerates the process of reinforcing them, and round and round the process goes in a positive-feedback loop of belief confirmation.

Interlaced with his theory of belief, Shermer provides countless real-world examples of how this process operates, from politics, economics and religion to conspiracy theories, the supernatural and the paranormal. Ultimately, he demonstrates why science is the best tool ever devised to determine whether or not a belief matches reality.

Shermer received his BA in psychology from Pepperdine University, MA in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and his PhD in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University. He has been a college professor since 1979, and also regularly contributes opinion editorials, essays, and reviews in numerous national publications. In addition to appearing on many news programs and documentaries, Shermer was the co-host and co-producer of the 13-hour Family Channel television series, Exploring the Unknown.  

The President's Forum for Critical Thought is an important component of the multifaceted programming supported at EWU by the Daniel and Margaret Carper Foundation.    

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Contact Information

Dave Meany - EWU Media Relations
300 Showalter Hall
Cheney, WA 99004

email: dmeany@ewu.edu
phone: 509.359.6335
fax: 509.359.4701