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A Trick of the Mind: Looking for patterns in life and then infusing them with meaning, from alien...
Reason ^ | August 2, 2011 | Ronald Bailey

Posted on 08/06/2011 5:51:20 PM PDT by neverdem

Looking for patterns in life and then infusing them with meaning, from alien intervention to federal conspiracy.

Superstitions arise as the result of the spurious identification of patterns. Even pigeons are superstitious. In an experiment where food is delivered randomly, pigeons will note what they were doing when the pellet arrived, such as twirling to the left and then pecking a button, and perform the maneuver over and over until the next pellet arrives. A pigeon rain dance. The behavior is not much different than in the case of a baseball player who forgets to shave one morning, hits a home run a few hours later and then makes it a policy never to shave on game days.

Beliefs come first; reasons second. That's the insightful message of The Believing Brain, by Michael Shermer, the founder of Skeptic magazine. In the book, he brilliantly lays out what modern cognitive research has to tell us about his subject—namely, that our brains are "belief engines" that naturally "look for and find patterns" and then infuse them with meaning. These meaningful patterns form beliefs that shape our understanding of reality. Our brains tend to seek out information that confirms our beliefs, ignoring information that contradicts them. Mr. Shermer calls this "belief-dependent reality." The well-worn phrase "seeing is believing" has it backward: Our believing dictates what we're seeing.

Mr. Shermer marshals an impressive array of evidence from game theory, neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. A human ancestor hears a rustle in the grass. Is it the wind or a lion? If he assumes it's the wind and the rustling turns out to be a lion, then he's not an ancestor anymore. Since early man had only a split second to make such decisions, Mr. Shermer says, we are descendants of ancestors whose "default position is..."

(Excerpt) Read more at reason.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: globalwarmingcultist; michaelshermer; neuroscience

1 posted on 08/06/2011 5:51:24 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem
Statement: "Superstitions arise as the result of the spurious identification of patterns. Even pigeons are superstitious. In an experiment where food is delivered randomly, pigeons will note what they were doing when the pellet arrived, such as twirling to the left and then pecking a button, and perform the maneuver over and over until the next pellet arrives. A pigeon rain dance."

Response: It is(or was) called "operant conditioning." It works for some behaviors but fails to work if a person knows it is being tried on him.

2 posted on 08/06/2011 6:05:24 PM PDT by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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To: neverdem

Statement: He doesn’t take religious faith seriously except as an object for explanatory debunking—God is simply the human explanation for pattern-making and agency on an epic scale.

More atheist crap on an epic scale.


3 posted on 08/06/2011 6:16:40 PM PDT by heights
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To: AEMILIUS PAULUS
In an experiment where food is delivered randomly, pigeons will note what they were doing when the pellet arrived, such as twirling to the left and then pecking a button, and perform the maneuver over and over until the next pellet arrives. A pigeon rain dance.

They at least understand the existence of cause and effect then.

4 posted on 08/06/2011 6:16:44 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: neverdem

Beliefs come first; reasons second.

So tell me, did Jesus Christ fulfill 365 proficies attributed to the Messiah, or not? Did He resurrect?

The answers to those two questions repudiates this entire article, and validates Psalms 14:1.


5 posted on 08/06/2011 6:34:57 PM PDT by Salvavida (The restoration of the U.S.A. starts with filling the pews at every Bible-believing church.)
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To: AEMILIUS PAULUS

I often wonder why atheists are so loud and proud of being totally unaware of their spirit and it’s nature. How can one live in a human body and deny their own spirit?

Anyway, each to his own, but I would not want to be doing that to myself.


6 posted on 08/06/2011 6:39:41 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: neverdem
Shermer has inflated a mouse to the size of an elephant: Impressive but full of wind.

Our minds are attuned to patterns because patterns exist. The lion in the grass crawls and moves in a limited number of ways or patterns and learning how to see those patterns is a measure of training and experience not just a creation of a mind.

Someone wants to rehash a common phenomenon in the hopes of seeming novel and significant.

7 posted on 08/06/2011 6:55:40 PM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: neverdem

Everything has a pattern. That is a fact.


8 posted on 08/06/2011 7:03:56 PM PDT by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: Smokeyblue

Ping


9 posted on 08/06/2011 7:23:06 PM PDT by Smokeyblue
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To: heights
"Statement: He doesn’t take religious faith seriously except as an object for explanatory debunking—God is simply the human explanation for pattern-making and agency on an epic scale."

Problem for Mr. Shermer is that belief comes first for atheists too.

Somehow he overlooked that little problem.

I hate when that happens...

10 posted on 08/06/2011 7:27:04 PM PDT by GourmetDan (Eccl 10:2 - The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.)
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To: SaraJohnson
"I often wonder why atheists are so loud and proud of being totally unaware of their spirit and it’s nature."

Unfortunately, Mr. Shermer just assumed that his premise that "Our brains tend to seek out information that confirms our beliefs, ignoring information that contradicts them" doesn't apply to his own beliefs.

Oops?

11 posted on 08/06/2011 7:29:45 PM PDT by GourmetDan (Eccl 10:2 - The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.)
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To: neverdem

Zero hears a rustling in the grass ... raise taxes. Reid hears a rustling in the grass ... raise taxes. Pelosi hears a rustling in the grass ... raise taxes. So objectively we can categorically state with a modest degree of certainty that raising taxes is caused by a rustling in the grass or with an overwhelming degree of certainty that the Democratic leadership is composed of simpletons.


12 posted on 08/06/2011 7:38:13 PM PDT by RetiredTexasVet (There's a pill for just about everything ... except stupid!)
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To: GourmetDan

Yes. There is a lot of assumin’ goin’ on out there. LOL


13 posted on 08/06/2011 7:43:15 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: neverdem
"As a back-of-the-envelope calculation within an order-of-magnitude accuracy, we can safely say that over the past ten thousand years of history humans have created about ten thousand different religions and about one thousand gods," Mr. Shermer writes. He lists more than a dozen gods, from Amon Ra to Zeus, and wonders how one of them can be true and the rest false. "As skeptics like to say, everyone is an atheist about these gods; some of us just go one god further."

It apparently is Shermer's belief pattern to assume that these gods were "created" by people. But is it not more likely that the people are seeing lions in bushes where there are none because sometimes people have encountered actual lions? Nobody is afraid of an invisible pink unicorn in the bushes...because no one has encountered one. Now the idea that different people think of God or gods differently...well why the heck should that be a wonder? Such are experienced spiritually, by numinous experience, and are things beyond our comprehension...thus it is should not be surprising people come away with different stories.

This guy certainly sees only what he wants to see, and does not apply reason very well at all. But what else can an reasonable person expect from naturalism? A philosophy that demands super-hyper-skeptism of all competing philosophies and at the same time whole-sale knee jerk acceptance of itself.

What a fool...its pathetic.

14 posted on 08/06/2011 7:45:16 PM PDT by AndyTheBear
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To: heights
More atheist crap on an epic scale.

Wow, that's a clever and insightful argument.

15 posted on 08/06/2011 8:02:00 PM PDT by Strategerist (There is only so much stupidity one man can prevent - Andrew Marshall)
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To: Strategerist
Wow, that's a clever and insightful argument.

He drew a conclusion, he did not make an argument.

You seem to be implying an argument that is so weak you are afraid to say it plainly...so I will for you.

You are trying to associate all arguments opposing your view with a reactionary statement that you selected out...and thus conclude..uhm...yes...uhm...conclude what?

16 posted on 08/06/2011 8:07:09 PM PDT by AndyTheBear
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To: neverdem

Mr. Shermer would appear to be putting himself at a distinct evolutionary disadvantage with his sneering, yet oddly self-congratulatory disbelief. Last I heard, pattern recognition is highly correlated with general intelligence,

Just a Darwin Award waiting to happen, that one. “Hey dude, hold my latte and watch this.”


17 posted on 08/06/2011 8:17:20 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: neverdem
Everything is relative and irrelevant.

The truth is a lie or maybe not.....maybe It's just the meds or my brain chemistry.

The first step to changing truth into a lie is to create doubt.

I.E.“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

18 posted on 08/06/2011 8:28:33 PM PDT by right way right (Put down the remote, and vote!)
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To: neverdem

Another atheist tries to explain why he believes in nothing.


19 posted on 08/06/2011 9:05:03 PM PDT by RoosterRedux
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To: neverdem
Mr. Shermer marshals an impressive array of evidence from game theory...

We are all game theorists (all living creatures are)! What game theory evidence does he marshal except that which supports his nihilism.

20 posted on 08/06/2011 9:05:10 PM PDT by RoosterRedux
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To: neverdem

The author expresses my beliefs exactly and saying so could get me banned from FR these days.

Thanks posting the article.


21 posted on 08/07/2011 7:33:32 AM PDT by balls (0 lies like a Muslim (Google "taqiyya"))
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To: AndyTheBear; Strategerist

Okay smartass. I suspect that strategerist is reacting to the thoughtless religious groupthink that we see all the time on FR. Your comment was purely an attempt to be clever.


22 posted on 08/07/2011 7:45:49 AM PDT by balls (0 lies like a Muslim (Google "taqiyya"))
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To: balls
Okay smartass. I suspect that strategerist is reacting to the thoughtless religious groupthink that we see all the time on FR. Your comment was purely an attempt to be clever.

Thoughtless religious group think would be atheism. Its a religion that is so in want of supporting argument and so overwhelmed by opposing arguments that apologists for atheism have had to stoop to trying to attack the validity of human thought itself....all while holding their own thoughts somehow transcendent to such flaws.

CS Lewis commented on it decades ago...and I still see it today all the time.

Look "balls"...promoting the idea that there is no God or gods is a religious view. People who take that view put on their pants one leg at a time like everybody else. They are subject to assuming patterns they want to see just like everybody else. They have the ability to reason or chose not to like everybody else. They have one degree or another of faith that they are right or wrong, just like everybody else.

But to the extent they accepted these realities...they lose the debate...so they invent a non sensical model where they divide thoughts into two camps:

1) Their own...which they simply "feel" are superior and reasonable and rational (even though as many have demonstrated...they are not).

2) Any "religious" view, which they "feel" is based on faith (as if their own were not) and potentially flawed or biased thinking (as if their own brains were immune).

And thus they feel comfortably intellectually superior without the hard work of thinking the issues through and finding that their view is hogwash.

23 posted on 08/09/2011 8:39:03 AM PDT by AndyTheBear
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To: AndyTheBear

Stating that atheism is a religion is twisted thinking. Some people just don’t believe in any religion, others - agnostics - just haven’t found a particular religion to believe in. Who are you to say what any other person on this planet actually thinks? It sounds like you are playing God!


24 posted on 08/09/2011 2:00:12 PM PDT by balls (0 lies like a Muslim (Google "taqiyya"))
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To: neverdem
The behavior is not much different than in the case of a baseball player who forgets to shave one morning, hits a home run a few hours later and then makes it a policy never to shave on game days.
25 posted on 08/09/2011 5:16:47 PM PDT by GOPJ (The end of our great nation - caused by 'give it all away' dems. May dems reap what they sown...)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; Rurudyne; steelyourfaith; Tolerance Sucks Rocks; xcamel; Quix; ...

Quintessential skepticultist and true believer Michael Shermer equates UFO witnesses with Holocaust denial, and distinguishes himself further by throwing in people who deny AGW — itself an entirely (and obviously) political construct. Thanks anyway neverdem.


26 posted on 08/09/2011 5:32:16 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Yes, as a matter of fact, it is that time again -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: SunkenCiv; 4horses+amule; Carlucci; Little Bill; Desdemona; Nipfan; carolinablonde; marvlus; ...
Thanx for the ping SunkenCiv !

 


Beam me to Planet Gore !

27 posted on 08/09/2011 5:45:31 PM PDT by steelyourfaith (If it's "green" ... it's crap !!!)
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To: balls
Stating that atheism is a religion is twisted thinking. Some people just don’t believe in any religion, others - agnostics - just haven’t found a particular religion to believe in. Who are you to say what any other person on this planet actually thinks? It sounds like you are playing God!

You are equivocating between different meanings of religion. And I am not "playing God". You really are being silly. Calm down and try to be rational for a minute.

Think this through, and try to take words in the context of the person writing them...it will make misinterpretation easier to avoid.

Now the word religion can mean in some contexts a religious service. In some contexts it could mean a set of ethical standards, often in such cases divinely inspired. In some contexts it could mean what a person believes in terms of god or Gods or spirits or the after life and such. And still in some contexts it may mean the attitude one ought have toward gods or Gods or what not. Often it means a mix of some of these things.

Atheism can mean one of two things or a mix of both. One thing is the religious doctrine that there is no such thing as gods or any God. The other thing it may mean is the religious disposition of being anti-gods or anti-God (Atheism literally means anti-god).

Now when I point out that Athiesm is a silly religion whose apologists are so want for evidence they must make attack the validity of human thought itself in order to discredit their opponents arguments...while offering little else for themselves than an un-examined presumption that their thinking is immune to any such flaws...than I am speaking in terms of Atheism as both a set of religious doctrines about gods (that none exist) and attitude towards gods (that they are against gods). Certainly I am not talking about religion in the sense of some Sunday morning service nor Tuesday night ritual or whatever.

Now some people indeed are less religious than others in the sense that they have less developed ideas about theology, are undecided in regard to attitude, or do not like to attend religious services. However, although an Atheist might be less religious in the context of going to a service, but in the context of my argument, they are religious. Now while agnostics are not necessarily religious in such a context, I do not claim Agnosticism is a religion in regard to belief.

Hope this clears up your thinking...but then that would take some honest effort on your part. And would require you to be a skeptic in areas where you seem more comfortable simply being gullible...and being fair minded in areas where you have simply shut your mind off like a light switch.

28 posted on 08/09/2011 11:19:02 PM PDT by AndyTheBear
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To: AndyTheBear
Who are you to say what any other person on this planet actually thinks?

Uhm...are you actually someone who goes through life with absolutely no idea what anybody else thinks about anything?

29 posted on 08/10/2011 12:15:33 AM PDT by AndyTheBear
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