Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Root of Superstition?

"The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other."

- Francis Bacon

6 comments:

Ashwin said...

... otherwise known in contemporary psychology as "confirmation bias".

Sir Francis Bacon has to be one of the most under-quoted of the intellectuals.

Kay said...

I was actually thinking along these lines about myself yesterday. I was feeling frustrated and was wondering why I bother to pay attention to all those synchronicities that line up, while ignoring all those times where there aren't any. Does that make sense?

Anyway, great quote. :)

Brendan said...

Just like Skinner found in his pigeon experiments.

Paul said...

It makes sense, Kay. What you're doing is something all of us do to one extent or another and which it is human nature to do -- and more than merely human nature. As Brendan points out, B.F. Skinner found a very similar behavior in pigeons!

I believe that by becoming alert to our tendency towards confirmation biases we can hope to correct them.

Mystic Wing said...

In this theory of superstition, there's a hint that the buddhists are right to eschew attachment. For what is superstition, then, other than a mistaken attachment to a cue that has no causal connection to the desired event?

Then again, the pigeons were getting fed, weren't they?

Camplin said...

I rub blogspots for good luck. Wait that sounds wrong.