Beyond Belief, by Graham Lawton.

Did you know that there is a strong correlation between political belief and a simple biological parameter of brain function?

What do you really know to be true? How do you know that it’s true? Do you really know it, or do you in fact just believe it? What separates knowledge from belief? How are beliefs formed, and how much influence do they have?

“The prime directive of the brain is to extract meaning. Everything else is a slave system.”

“Most religions feature a familiar cast of characters: supernatural agents, life after death, moral directives, and answers to existential questions. Why do so many people believe such things so effortlessly?”

New Scientist No. 3015, 4th April 2015, p. 28-33.

Right Hand, Left Hand, by Chris McManus

512yxI6NxbLThe left hemisphere of the brain is “logical”, and the right is “emotional”, yes? Left handed people are more creative? Right handed people more logical? These are the kind of pseudo-scientific factoids that give psychology a bad name with other scientists. Like many lazy oversimplifications, there is a grain of truth at the core of them. Proper psychological science is about using observation and experiment to get to the bottom of the matter, and this book reviews what we actually know about lateralisation of function in the human brain.

It is really readable. It ranges from psychology to anthropology, molecular biology to astronomy, and cultural studies to anecdote. It has won loads of prizes, is great fun to read, and frankly is absolutely fascinating.

If you’re just interested in the psychology then perhaps start with chapter 8, but in fact I would just start at the beginning because you’re probably going to end up reading the whole thing anyway!