The Future of Collective Beliefs
By Gérald Bronner
Translated by Peter Hamilton
January 2011, hardback, 200 pp.
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.