[ExI] evolution and the supernatural

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Sat Feb 22 21:41:15 UTC 2020

My recent psych books have been about human cognitive errors, at least in
part.  There are so many (see a list in Wikipedia) that is hard to see just
how we survived.

It also set me to wondering if the far more limited cognitive abilities of
apes contained errors as well, such as superstitions.  Hmmm.

Kurzban's book continues to amaze.  No self - lots of modules.  Assertions
that some work better when they are wrong!  More to come.

bill w

On Sat, Feb 22, 2020 at 3:27 PM John Clark via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> 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
> time.
> 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
> have:
> 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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