A belief is defined as the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true. Beliefs are formed in many different ways, which is outside the scope of this book, but it will suffice to say that many beliefs are not formed by reason and critical thinking. For our purposes, we are focusing on two aspects of beliefs: 1) the reasoning we use to form new beliefs, and 2) the reasoning we need to evaluate our existing beliefs.
Beliefs can often be stated explicitly as beliefs, stated as opinions, implied, or arrogantly stated as fact. Some examples:
I believe that unicorns exist.
In my opinion (or I think), everyone should remain celibate for life.
Hot dogs are delicious when ground up into powder and snorted.
If you are not baptized as an adult, you are going to Hell!
Beliefs can be wonderful, as in believing that humanity is overall good. Beliefs can be benign, as in believing the Red Sox are better than the Yankees. Beliefs can also be devastating, as in believing your god wants you to fly planes into buildings. But no matter how good a belief makes us feel or how good the potential outcome of a belief can be, it does not affect the truth of the belief. Although we are focusing on arguments, this book will help you find the truth of beliefs by examining fallacious reasoning.