[ExI] evolution and the supernatural

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Sat Feb 22 21:24:21 UTC 2020

On Sat, Feb 22, 2020 at 1William Flynn Wallace via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

"If one combines the view that supernatural beliefs are wrong with the idea
> that our minds have evolved to acquire beliefs that are useful, one arrives
> at the question of why humans' brains seem to have systems that cause them
> to acquire beliefs that are guaranteed to be false.  In this sense,
> supernatural beliefs are weird.  Not only are they all wrong, but
> historically they've caused people to do all sorts of seemingly odd things,
> from spending precious time in rituals to destroying property to wearing
> silly hats."
> Robert Kurzban

First of all Evolution can't make perfect brains or perfect anything, nor
does it need to, it just needs for an animal to be better than the
competition. And science is not the only way to make smart decisions,
induction is another, animals have been using it for half a billion years
and although it occasionally fails it works pretty well on most things most
of the time. We still use it today and so did Og the caveman, so if Og
happened to be holding a severed rabbit's foot when a Sabre Toothed Tiger
caught sight of him and gave chase and by a unusual stroke of luck Og
managed to escape the beast he'd use induction and start to think there is
a connection between his good fortune and the rabbit's foot. He would be
wrong but nobody said induction was always exactly right, most of the
decisions based on induction are usually approximately right most of the

I love the scientific method and it makes far fewer errors than induction
but I must admit it does have 2 big disadvantages that induction doesn't

1) It takes a lot of brainpower, so unless you have loads of neurons at
your disposal you really can't use the scientific method; for this reason
snails make poor theorists, but induction is easy so snails even with their
primitive nervous system can make good use of it.

2) The scientific method is slow, if you see a saber toothed tiger about to
jump on you there just isn't time to formulate a scientific theory about
the situation and make a falsifiable prediction about the outcome; better for
Og to just remember how his friend Ug survived a similar attack and then
use induction.

John K Clark
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