Why Our Brains Believe Pretty Much Everything

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The reason for this cognitive disconnect is that:

  • We have evolved brains that pay attention to anecdotes because false positives (believing there is a connection between A and B when there is not) are usually harmless
  • Whereas false negatives (believing there is no connection between A and B when there is) may take you out of the gene pool.
  • Our brains are belief engines that employ association learning to seek and find patterns.

Superstition and belief in magic are millions of years old, whereas science, with its methods of controlling for intervening variables to circumvent false positives, is only a few hundred years old.  So it is that any medical huckster promising that A will cure B has only to advertise a handful of successful anecdotes in the form of testimonials

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“Here’s a giant hint to men of the world: Women analyze everything. If you’re having an argument with your significant other over texts, especially if it’s particularly heated, she’s going to be decoding every single letter. “

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Gender Differences Do Exist – from Oxford University

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Even more surprisingly, sex-typed toy interests have been found to exist in non-human primates such as vervet monkeys and rhesus monkeys.”
—Professor Melissa Hines

“The overall conclusion, based on all these types of research, is that children’s toy preferences relate to the prenatal hormones they were exposed to.”

A steady stream of popular books on how to understand male and female behaviour has suggested that there are hard-wired differences in the brains of women and men and that these intrinsic differences shape our lives and give rise to important differences in social roles and occupational achievement.

The picture that has emerged from rigorous scientific research over the past 50 or so years is, however, rather different. Studies of genetics, prenatal hormones and postnatal socialisation, along with comparisons with other species, now strongly suggest that:

• There are indeed some inborn contributions to differences in gender-related psychology and behaviour, Continue reading

“New ways of looking at the network organisation of the human brain show that it has a surprising amount in common with the worm brain, computer chips, stock markets, and many other complex systems.”

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“The basic mechanism explaining the success of Ponzi schemes…

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“The basic mechanism explaining the success of Ponzi schemes is the tendency of humans to model their actions, especially when dealing with matters they don’t fully understand, on the behavior of other humans.” The effect is particularly powerful within an ethnic or religious community