On his YouTube Channel AntiCitizenX has published an excellent series on The Psychology of Belief
Part 1: Informational Influence
How can 2 billion believers all be wrong? Simple. The more believers there are, the more efficiently they generate more believers.
Part 2: Insufficient Justification
In the previous video, we learned how peer pressure leads to public conformity. Now we shall see how public conformity can be turned into genuine belief, even when the belief is embarrassingly false.
Part 3: Confirmation Bias
Presentation of the principles of confirmation bias and belief perseverance. The natural human tendency is to seek out only the evidence that supports what we already believe, and to ignore evidence that may debunk our beliefs. We also tend to cling to beliefs even after the original evidence which put it there has been debunked. This is the essence of belief perseverance
Part 4: Misinformation Effect
In this episode, we learn why personal testimony is universally regarded as the weakest form of evidence. Yet despite this fact, personal testimonies are heavily emphasized among religious circles anyway. That says a lot about the value of truth among religious circles, doesn’t it?
Part 5: Compliance Techniques
Which is more likely? That missionaries generate converts through the power of holy inspiration? Or that missionaries are really clever marketers?
EDIT: Ray’s method here is probably more than just a foot-in-the-door effect. You will also notice a few “door-in-the-face” questions as well. These are designed to elicit an immediate rejection, followed by a lesser concession. See reference #4 at the end for an experimental demonstration of this effect.
Part 6: Hallucinations
Hearing voices: It’s not just for schizophrenics any more!
Hallucination is a relatively common phenomenon. Virtually all of us will, at one point or another, experience sensory perceptions generated entirely out of our own minds. Sadly, some people are more prone to this than others, and it is entirely within reason that every spiritual experience in human history is attributable to auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations.
Anywhere between 1-2 % of the human population hears voices on a regular basis. Sometimes the voices say encouraging things. Sometimes the voices are derogatory and vicious. Other times they speak nonsense. Occasionally they are even capable of full conversations.
Sometimes the voices are audible. Sometimes they are like loud thoughts. Other times they are like severe, intrusive urges.
Sometimes the voices are a blessing in the life of the hearer. Other times the voices are a nuisance. Some people cope by taking drugs. Others cope by asserting dominance with the voices. Some have even developed bizarre coping mechanisms like having “voice time” or simply repeating everything the voices say back at them.
In short, if you think you have heard the voice of God. You probably have not.
Part 7: Projection
Have you ever wondered why creationist Christians love to call atheism and evolution “faith-based religions?” Well, as it turns out, Sigmund Freud was right. Classical psychological projection is a defense mechanism whereby people deny their own faults by perceiving them in other people. Projecting their own blind faith onto critics is therefore just a tool believers use to avoid recognizing those very same faults within themselves.
Special thanks to AronRa for the final audio clip!