Escrevo por aqui muitos posts sobre pseudociência, religião, e superstições de fim do mundo, daí que achei interessantes estes textos em inglês.
As pessoas imaginam Deus à sua semelhança.
“Psychological studies have found that people are always a tad egocentric when considering other people’s mindsets. They use their own beliefs as a starting point, which colours their final conclusions. Epley found that the same process happens, and then some, when people try and divine the mind of God. Their opinions on God’s attitudes on important social issues closely mirror their own beliefs. If their own attitudes change, so do their perceptions of what God thinks. They even use the same parts of their brain when considering God’s will and their own opinions. (…)”
Colocar as pessoas em dúvida sobre as suas crenças, ou provar-lhes que são erradas, faz com que as pessoas defendam mais as suas crenças por mais irracionais que os argumentos sejam. Em vez de aceitarem as evidências e a verdade observável, tornam-se fundamentalistas nas suas crenças. Isto vê-se no Criacionismo, na religião em geral (em que o absentismo é prova da presença), nas profecias de fim-do-mundo (em que o resultado negativo é a prova de que “na próxima é que é”), nas crenças em OVNIs extraterrestres, etc…
“You don’t have to look very far for examples of people holding on to their beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Thousands still hold to the idea that vaccines cause autism, that all life was created a few thousand years ago, and even that drinking industrial bleach is a good idea. Look at comment threads across the internet and you’ll inevitably find legions of people who boldly support for these ideas in the face of any rational argument.
That might be depressing, but it’s not unexpected. In a new study, David Gal and Derek Rucker from Northwestern University have found that when people’s confidence in their beliefs is shaken, they become stronger advocates for those beliefs. The duo carried out three experiments involving issues such as animal testing, dietary preferences, and loyalty towards Macs over PCs. In each one, they subtly manipulated their subjects’ confidence and found the same thing: when faced with doubt, people shout even louder.
Gal and Rucker were inspired by a classic psychological book called When Prophecy Fails. In it, Leon Festinger and colleagues infiltrated an American cult whose leader, Dorothy Martin, convinced her followers that flying saucers would rescue them from an apocalyptic flood. Many believed her, giving up their livelihoods, possessions and loved ones in anticipation of their alien saviours. When the fated moment came and nothing happened, the group decided that their dedication had spared the Earth from destruction. In a reversal of their earlier distaste for publicity, they started to actively proselytise for their beliefs. Far from shattering their faith, the absent UFOs had turned them into zealous evangelists. (…)
when someone’s beliefs are challenged, they would try to raise support for those beliefs with paradoxical enthusiasm. (…)
Their study also casts the acts of advocates in a different light. They might be outwardly trying to change the minds of other people but their actions could be equally about bolstering their own beliefs. As Gal and Zucker write:
“The present research also offers a warning to anyone on the receiving end of an advocacy attempt. Although it is natural to assume that a persistent and enthusiastic advocate of a belief is brimming with confidence, the advocacy might in fact signal that the individual is boiling over with doubt.”
(algo que eu até já aflorei neste comentário)
Não ter o controlo (por exemplo, não tendo conhecimento) leva a conclusões erradas, a teorias da conspiração, e a superstições. Ou seja, é tudo uma questão de controlo: ou se controla com conhecimento, ou se tenta controlar com conspirações e superstições, imaginando padrões que não existem.
““Control – you must learn control!” These wise words were uttered by no less a sage than Yoda, and while he was talking about telekinetically hoisting spacecraft, having control has another important benefit. It protects a person from spotting false patterns that aren’t there, from believing in conspiracies and from developing superstitions.
Control and security are vital parts of our psychological well-being and it goes without saying that losing them can feel depressing or scary. As such, people have strategies for trying to regain a sense control even if it’s a tenuous one. Jennifer Whitson and Adam Galinsky from the University of Texas have found that one such strategy is to identify coherent and meaningful relationships between things we observe.
These patterns can help us to make sense of past events and predict future ones, affording us a degree of control over our fates, albeit an indirect one. We can’t change the weather, for example, but if we can tell when it’s going to rain, we can be prepared. At the more extreme end, conspiracy theories can help the bewildered to make sense of otherwise unconnected events. And explaining random events by invoking superstitions or higher beings can help to bring reality’s many possibilities within one’s understanding, if not under one’s heel.
Whitson and Galinsky demonstrated the link between desiring control and seeing patterns through a set of experiments that used a variety of psychological tricks to induce feelings of insecurity among groups of volunteers. With these tricks, they managed to induce a number of different illusions – increasing the risk of seeing false images, making links between unrelated events, creating conspiracy theories and even accepting superstitious rituals. Superficially, all of these behaviours seem quite different but they all involve seeing patterns where none exist. They have a common theme and now, this study suggests that they have a common motive too. (…)”
As superstições, apesar de verdadeiramente erradas, podem ter o efeito placebo de aumentar a confiança das pessoas, e consequentemente melhorar o resultado final de uma acção. Já falei do efeito placebo, aqui, aqui, e aqui.
“Superstitions run rampant in our daily lives. Sportsmen wear lucky clothes that they refuse to wash during tournaments. Actors refer to Shakespeare’s Macbeth as “The Scottish Play” within the confines of a theatre, because the name is said to be cursed. Everywhere, people knock on wood, cross their fingers and carry lucky mascots.
It’s easy enough to dismiss these beliefs as the silly by-products of irrational minds, but Lysann Damisch from the University of Cologne has found an upside to superstition – they can improve our performance in a variety of tasks, from physical challenges to memory games. It’s all to do with self-confidence. Pandering to luck-related superstitions, by crossing your fingers in hope or saying “break a leg”, can boost a person’s faith in their own abilities, giving them the edge they need to excel. (…)”