On Being Certain (2008)


41uzxb1krfl-_ac_us160_Click here for 8 pages of quotes from this terrific book. on-being-certain-quotes

This book is a good antidote to the know-it-all, imperative, pontificating folk who say, “I know what I know! Don’t confuse me with the facts.”

It’s a deep book about epistemology, the “feeling of knowing,” and how the brain works. I’m not savvy enough to grapple with Burton’s claims but I found them so compelling I lifted my favorite quotes for your reading enjoyment. I am almost certain you’re going to enjoy this book.



The Will To Believe (1896) by William James


essays in pragmatismThis essay is not about why having religious beliefs is good; it’s about why having religious beliefs isn’t bad. That, and some cool dating advice.

It’s one of seven essays in the book, Essays in Pragmatism by William James (The Hafner Library of Classics, 1948).

In our day of resurgent atheism it’s rare to come across a philosopher who argues for the legitimacy of religious belief. As one who aspires to be a person of faith I was delighted to read The Will To Believe by American philosopher William James. Too bad it’s 119 years old.

This dandy 21 page lecture—he calls it a sermon—given in 1896 to the Philosophical Clubs at Yale and Brown Universities inspires me. His outline includes ten sections which he didn’t name. For convenience sake I’ve given each section a descriptive title.

Click here for a 6 page summary. The Will To Believe


On Being Certain by Robert Burton


A recent TED talk video presenter asked her audience, “What does it feel like to be wrong?” Participants answered, “Embarrassing, shameful, stupid.” She replied, “No, what you just answered was what you feel like when you realize you were wrong. When we’re wrong it feels just like being right!”

Here’s how a neurologist describes the brain chemistry behind the feeling of certitude.

On Being certain