Why we believe

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by YWN666, Nov 13, 2008.

  1. YWN666

    YWN666 Freelance Beer Tester Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2008
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    Why We Believe

    By Sharon Begley | NEWSWEEK

    The pervasiveness of belief in the supernatural and paranormal may seem odd in an age of science. But ours is also an age of anxiety, a time of economic distress and social anomie, as denizens of a mobile society are repeatedly uprooted from family and friends. Historically, such times have been marked by a surge in belief in astrology, ESP and other paranormal phenomena, spurred in part by a desperate yearning to feel a sense of control in a world spinning out of control. A study reported a few weeks ago in the journal Science found that people asked to recall a time when they felt a loss of control saw more patterns in random noise, perceived more conspiracies in stories they read and imagined illusory correlations in financial markets than people who were not reminded that events are sometimes beyond their control. "In the absence of perceived control, people become susceptible to detecting patterns in an effort to regain some sense of organization," says psychology researcher Bruce Hood of the University of Bristol, whose upcoming book "Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable" explores the mental processes behind belief in the paranormal. "No wonder those stock market traders are clutching their rabbit's feet"—or that psychics and the paranormal seem to be rivaling reality stars for TV hegemony ("Medium," "Psychic Kids," "Lost" and the new "Fringe" and "Eleventh Hour"). Just as great religious awakenings have coincided with tumultuous eras, so belief in the paranormal also becomes much more prevalent during social and political turmoil. Such events "lead the mind to look for explanations," says Michael Shermer, president of the Skeptics Society and author of the 1997 book "Why People Believe Weird Things." "The mind often takes a turn toward the supernatural and paranormal," which offer the comfort that benign beings are watching over you (angels), or that you will always be connected to a larger reality beyond the woes of this world (ghosts).

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