God Disapproves Of This Marriage!
Currently I am reading The Believing Brain: How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths by Michael Shermer. It is a fascinating read–truth be told it is one of the more engaging books that I have read in the last few years–that synthesizes thirty years of his work on psychology and the numerous cognitive tools our brains engage to reinforce our beliefs as truths.
Two important concepts in the book are paternicity and agenticity. Patternicity is the process or the tendency to find meaningful patterns in both meaningful and meaningless noise. Agenticity is the tendency to infuse patterns with meaning, intention, and agency.
When I saw this video this morning, and with Dr. Shermer fresh on my mind, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the many persons who perceive some sort of pattern and agency in most any natural event.
The obvious conclusion for people operating with such cognitive biases? God disapproves of this marriage!
True story: I actually know persons, in fact are related to them through marriage, who are superstitious, naive, credulous, and misinformed about patterns and meaning enough that before embarking on their summer trip this year, they went to a New Age center and engaged in a “Weather Treatment” so that they would have favorable sunshine for their trip. Talk about external locus of control… anyways, you can pick up a grade six textbook and quickly discover that global weather patterns are a little more ‘tricksy’ than controlling them with prayer or sugar-plum wishes to the Universe.
I am trying to be empathetic towards their ignorance, and the limited categories they are operating under–as their brains through a long process of evolution and natural selection are developed to look for patterns–but that kind of stupid can’t be easy to fix!