On Being Certain

Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not

About the Course:

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.

Publication Date:

2009

Author

Robert A. Burton. M.D.

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for health care professionals, especially psychologists, counselors, social workers, and nurses who seek knowledge about the neurobiology of certainty and related cognitive processes. . It is appropriate for all levels of participants’ knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Explain what the author means by “feeling of knowing”.

  2. Describe how mental states emerge and how our neurobiology affects the development of those states.

  3. Evaluate and critique distinctions presented regarding the feeling that something is known and actual evidence of fact.

  4. Identify the ways in which genetics impact on thought processes such as reason, objectivity, and religious conviction.

Exam Questions

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