Chapter 2

Peering into the Mind: How People Think

In This Chapter

arrow Testing humans, logical thinking

arrow Staring into the brain while it works

arrow Challenging the notion of rational scientific thinking

We think so because other people all think so . . . or because we were told so, and think we must think so. . . .

Henry Sidgwick

Some mysteries are best tackled by digging out and looking at ‘the known facts’, but not the issue of ‘how people think’. This one is best tackled (as philosophers have done for centuries) by asking questions.

For example, when you read something — like this paragraph — whose voice do you hear in your head? Is it your own voice, as the reader, or is it an echo of the voice of the author reappearing through the words — or perhaps both? The neurologist Paul Broks identifies a peculiar thing about writing: it seems to allow other people to access and ‘take over the language centres of your brain’. Part of this chapter, the section ‘Thinking Logically or Instinctively: Evolution and Consciousness’, explains how and why that may happen. Being aware of this is useful when you're trying to understand your reaction both to other people's ideas, and to critically evaluate ...

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