Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why We Believe

I have just finished the book SUPERSENSE - Why We Believe in the Unbelievable by Bruce M. Hood. Thought you might enjoy the following excerpt regarding belief in the supernatural . . .

     Psychologists have come to the conclusion that there are at least two different systems operating when it comes to thinking and reasoning. One system is believed to be evolutionarily more ancient in terms of human development; it has been called intuitive, natural, automatic, heuristic, and implicit. It is the system we think is operating in young children before they reach school age. The second system is one that is believed to be more recent in human evolution; it permits logical reasoning but is limited by executive functions . . . This second reasoning system has been called conceptual-logical, analytical-rational, deliberative-effortful-intentional-systematic, and explicit. It emerges much later in development and underpins the capacity of the child to perform logical, rational problem-solving. When we reason about the world using these two systems, they may sometimes work in competition with each other.
     One might assume that those prone to the supersense and belief in the paranormal (or supernatural) are lacking in rational thought processes, but that would be too simplistic. Studies reveal that the two systems of thinking, the intuitive and the rational, coexist in the same individuals. There are, in effect, two different ways of interpreting the world. In fact, when we measure reliance on intuition, no relationship has been found with intelligence. Intuitive people are not more stupid. They are, however, more prone to supernatural belief . . . The supersense lingers in the back of our minds, influencing our behaviors and thoughts, and our mood may play a triggering role. This explains why perfectly rational, highly educated individuals can still hold supernatural beliefs.

barry e


1 comment:

Barry B said...

It seems there is a great deal of belief in the supernatural to compensate for the "unknown". It would make sense that when the reasoning system is unable to explain the unknown the intuition system steps in to fill in the gap. I see examples of this all the time in people who will create causes for occurrences in their life. To accept coincidence or "unknown" reason does not satisfy their drive to have answers. They are unable to live with a "fill in the blank" question unfilled and will easily fill it with their intuition to avoid leaving it blank. What may be even more powerful is the confidence they have that their intuition is the right answer.