'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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'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.
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.
Causal beliefs make us human and different
from all other animals.
It evolved in relation to use of tools. It led to
All cultures have beliefs about causes, but more
than 90% of events have causes not easily
accessible to an individual.
Supernatural explanations are common:
communication with spirits
ghosts and angels
Causal understanding in children is a
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.
By 3 years they understand that people
have different beliefs.
Many questions about causes.
Light on box -touch hand/head
..humans, but no other primates, understand
the causal and intentional relations that hold
among external entities.
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.
Crows use sticks as tools
Chimps are at the edge of causal
understanding, but do not ever modify
Kanzi was taught to make tools
The first human tools may have been
the result of a stone breaking when
used on nuts - but causal thinking was
A million or so years in stasis in tool use,
and then some 100,000 years ago new
Technology requires a concept of
physical cause, and drove human
Language may have come from
gesture and throwing. It helped with
Technology drove human evolution.
Humans could manipulate their
Dunbar argues that it was social
understanding that drove human
evolution. But what was the big
Religion provided causal understanding.
Religion offered the possibility of asking
for help by praying. All societies have
had religious beliefs.
Humans were the most obvious causal
agents and gods are human-like.
“men create the gods after their own image”
Religion is the commitment to the existence
of culturally postulated superhuman beings.
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.
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.
Mostmental illnesses involve false beliefs; common are delusions/hallucinations
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
There is evidence that the drug from magic
mushrooms can trigger a religious experience.
Also electrical stimulation of the brain can also.
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
Science is special, not
technology -and it all comes from the Greeks.
Thales Aristotle Euclid
Egyptians no explanation
Greeks explain heavens
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.
No miracle should be believed unless the
evidence was such that it would be miraculous
not to believe in it. David Hume
There is no evidence that the fertilised human
egg is a human being. Implications for stem
cells and abortion.
Intelligent design is based on faith not science.
There will always be some unanswered
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.
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
angels and ghosts and aliens
read someone else's mind
spirits can move objects
levitation is possible
‘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’.
Placebo effect determined by beliefs
Three general purpose heuristics - availability,
representativeness, and anchoring.
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