The Phenomenology of Belief Systems
Published in Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 20, No. 2, Spring 1980, pp.57-68
and in Religious Humanism, Volume 14, Number 4, Autumn 1980, pp.178-187.
Short idea (95): Every experience has a "tail," which is to say that a piece of every experience lingers on after the experience is over. For example, the experience of being in a severe thunder storm lingers after the storm is gone. The alertness, the feelings of fear and/or awe, etc. Tails can last a few seconds, a few minutes, a few hours, days, weeks, months, years, and even for a whole life-time. As you get older you accumulate more and more of these permanent tails, and all new experiences you have are filtered through them. The thicker the web of old tails, the less of each new experience will get through, and, gradually, new experiences will all come to feel pretty much the same, have the same flavor, as it were. Experience will become stale.
Errors, Illusions, Hallucinations, Delusions:
A simple error or a mistake isn't always an illusion or hallucination or delusion. You can be tired and adding a series of numbers and make a mistake. Or you can hear it will rain today and believe it and be wrong.
Short idea (160): What we believe is different from what we think we believe.
Short idea (185): Hypothesis: Believing in a life after death is as instinctual as eating or breathing. No matter how silly the idea seems to our thinking, no matter how irrational, no matter how vague or self-contradictory, deep down we it is still there. It's as impossible to hold off the opposite belief too long as it is to hold your breath too long. You can hold it at bay for a while with your rational mind, but, as soon as you relax, the belief in a life after death, for yourself and others, grabs hold again.