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\'For what a man had rather be true he more readily believes\' Bacon 16th Century

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\'For what a man had rather be true he more readily believes\' Bacon 16th Century. Causal beliefs can determine how we behave. We cannot tolerate not knowing the cause of important events like illness and death.

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Presentation Transcript
slide2

Causal beliefs can determine how we behave.

We cannot tolerate not knowing the cause of important events like illness and death.

slide3

The original and only true function of the brain, from and evolutionary viewpoint, is to control movement and interaction with the environment.

That is why plants have no brains.

slide4

Causal beliefs make us human and different

from all other animals.

It evolved in relation to use of tools. It led to

religious beliefs.

slide5

All cultures have beliefs about causes, but more

than 90% of events have causes not easily

accessible to an individual.

Supernatural explanations are common:

telepathy

communication with spirits

homeopathy

ghosts and angels

slide6

Causal understanding in children is a

developmental primitive.

slide7

From 3 months infants can reason about physical causality ; by 7 months objects remain whole, and require contact to move.

By 18 months they can rake a toy to themselves.

slide10

By 3 years they understand that people

have different beliefs.

Many questions about causes.

Light on box -touch hand/head

slide11

..humans, but no other primates, understand

the causal and intentional relations that hold

among external entities.

Michael Tomasello

slide12

Seeing the wind shake a branch so that

the fruit falls, off would lead no animal

other than a human to shake the branch to

get the fruit.

slide17

Chimps are at the edge of causal

understanding, but do not ever modify

a stone.

Kanzi was taught to make tools

slide18

The first human tools may have been

the result of a stone breaking when

used on nuts - but causal thinking was

essential

slide20

A million or so years in stasis in tool use,

and then some 100,000 years ago new

tools appeared.

slide22

Technology requires a concept of

physical cause, and drove human

evolution.

slide25

Language may have come from

gesture and throwing. It helped with

causal beliefs.

slide26

Technology drove human evolution.

Humans could manipulate their

environment.

Dunbar argues that it was social

understanding that drove human

evolution. But what was the big

advantage?

slide29

Religion provided causal understanding.

Religion offered the possibility of asking

for help by praying. All societies have

had religious beliefs.

slide30

Humans were the most obvious causal

agents and gods are human-like.

“men create the gods after their own image”

Aristotle

slide31

Religion is the commitment to the existence

of culturally postulated superhuman beings.

slide32

It was a selective advantage to have religious

belief, as it removed uncertainty. Such beliefs

may have become genetically programmed.

There is evidence that those with religious

beliefs have better health.

slide34

In almost all religions there is an afterlife.

This can reduce the fear of death and so is an

advantage. This involves mystical thinking.

Religion is not based on evidence.

slide35

Mostmental illnesses involve false beliefs; common are delusions/hallucinations

Confabulation

Depression

Schizophrenia

Hypnotism

Capgras

slide36

Mysticism

I discovered that beauty, revelation,

sensuality, the cellular history of the

past, God, the Devil - all lie inside my

body, outside my mind

Timothy Leary on LSD

We have a mystical mind probably from

religion

slide38

There is evidence that the drug from magic

mushrooms can trigger a religious experience.

Also electrical stimulation of the brain can also.

slide39

Being a member of a religious community an be

an advantage. Sloan Wilson

Religion and the belief in God is most common

in societies that have the most intensive

struggle for existence. Is the USA a counter

example?

slide41

Science is special, not

technology -and it all comes from the Greeks.

Thales Aristotle Euclid

Archimedes

Egyptians no explanation

Greeks explain heavens

Chinese

slide43

Science is the best way to understand the

world, but it is unnatural - it goes against

common sense. Archimedes.

Moon; force and motion; quantum mechanics

Galileo and falling body.

slide44

No miracle should be believed unless the

evidence was such that it would be miraculous

not to believe in it. David Hume

slide45

There is no evidence that the fertilised human

egg is a human being. Implications for stem

cells and abortion.

slide46

Intelligent design is based on faith not science.

There will always be some unanswered

questions.

Science is the best way to understand the world.

If the history science were rerun the results

would be the same, but DNA might be googy.

slide48

Paranormal beliefs invoke forces and causes

both outside ordinary experience and science.

They offer believers new powers.

possible to contact the dead

to access past lives

horoscopes can predict the future

spiritual healing can cure

telepathy

angels and ghosts and aliens

read someone else\'s mind

spirits can move objects

levitation is possible

slide49

‘If a person is poorly, receives treatment to make

him better, and then gets better, then no power of

reasoning known to medical science can convince

him that it may not have been the treatment that

restored his health’.

Peter Medawar

slide51

Three general purpose heuristics - availability,

representativeness, and anchoring.

slide52

Why did science persist in the West?

Christianity was involved in argument and

rationality. They were concerned about the

nature of the physical world

Aquinas held that theology was science from God

Many religions believed in rebirth.

No good evidence for Gods

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