The Future of Collective Beliefs
By Gérald Bronner
Translated by Peter Hamilton

January 2011, hardback, 200 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-905622-35-1
GEMAS Studies in Social Analysis


Who still believes in Father Christmas, Bloody Mary or the man in the moon? How, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, can some people still support creationism? What did President Mitterrand of France learn from his personal astrologer?

In this intriguing book on the sociology of beliefs, Gérald Bronner examines the social processes that perpetuate all types of strange and erroneous ideas. Using models based on cognitive science, he explores the weird and wonderful domain of the “market for ideas”. Although we may think that scientific progress roots out the seeds of false belief, Bronner unlocks the answer to why the advance of reason opens up new terrains on which the weeds of error can flourish.


Introduction: The End of Beliefs�A Self-Destructive Prophecy

CHAPTER 1: Advance in Science and Technology Does Not Always Impede the Development of the Strangest Beliefs
CHAPTER 2: How Can Reason Lead Us To the �Irrational�?
CHAPTER 3: The Services Only Beliefs Can Provide
CHAPTER 4: When the Whole is Less Than the Sum of its Parts: Common and Individual Knowledge
CHAPTER 5: The Cognitive Market and the Persistence of Beliefs

Conclusion: New Characteristics of the Cognitive Market�A Source of Vitality for the Empire of Beliefs

About the Author:

Gérald Bronner is Professor of Sociology at the Université de Strasbourg, France. His publications include L’empire des croyances (Presses Universitaires de France, 2004) and La pensée extrême (Denoël, 2009), winner of the prestigious 2010 Amalfi Prize for Sociology and Social Science.

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