The Belief Engine

The Belief Engine

In The Belief Engine, James Alcock introduces two interesting components in our internal belief engine, the Critical-Thinking Unit, and the Memory Unit. These two corresponding items work hand and hand to help logical thinkers to understand the world around them through personally analyzing their own past without bias from the Emotional Response Unit, or any other conflicting counter-part. Critical thinking is not an innate ability.

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As mentioned in the article many of us are born with what Alcock describes as “magical thinking”, he gave the example of an infant who smiles as a light breeze causes his mobile to spin will believe that every time he smiles the mobile will spin again. Through the stages of adolescence and even through adulthood we are taught to ignore plain logic in respect to faith. Every time a move is made that message teaches to “follow your heat and not your brain” this way of teaching is being reinforced.

In this way, the ability to see things for what they are without including your learned bias and magical predilections can be a struggle for the average person. It does however, become easier to utilize the Critical Thinking Unit in adulthood, however as mentioned in the text, it is still a battle between your own intuition and your rational part of mind, which has a lot to do with your past recollections. We can not always believe our memories. The text explains that memories are subject to our current bias, and therefore misinterpretation.

If we could take the time to thoroughly analyze all of our memories, those good and bad, we may find that what we thought to be true may ultimately be false and what we held to be false may be the turning point of our lives. This type of rhetoric is exactly why people shy away from critical thinking and put so much effort into the magical thinking that was taught to us at an early age. If we can’t believe out own past experiences, that what do we have to hold on too?

That fear has held us hostage for decades. James Alcock describes two interesting parts of mind in his article, The Belief Engine. Both the Critical-Thinking Unit, and the Memory Unit toil together to unlock a thinkers mind to the world around him, without interjection from a previously held bias. Although through utilization for both of these systems may sometimes seem hard to do, for someone who is interested a new perspective, it is a sound escape from the magical world around them.


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