Title

Why do logically incompatible beliefs seem psychologically compatible?: Science, pseudoscience, religion, and superstition

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2019

Abstract

Humans’ understanding of science is at once impressive and appalling. Humans, as a species, have uncovered the hidden causes of most natural phenomena, from rainbows to influenza to earthquakes. Unobservable causal agents, like germs and genes, have been discovered and studied and are now familiar to everyone, scientists and nonscientists alike. Representations at different levels of abstraction may be compatible, as when represent the diffusion of a gas at both the macroscopic level and the microscopic level. Likewise, representations that evoke different scales of causation may be compatible, as when we represent sexual behavior as both an evolved adaptation and an environmentally-triggered response. A dominant source of non-scientific explanations is religion. Religious explanations for natural phenomena typically evoke supernatural agents, which, in turn, evoke intuitions about agents in general -theory of mind. Consider the difference between scientific and religious explanations for why organisms are adapted to their environment.

DOI

10.4324/9780203703809-11

Publication Title

What is Scientific Knowledge?: An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology of Science

First Page

163

Last Page

178

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