Thursday, March 26, 2009

Intuitive creationism and intuitive socialism

Jesse Bering explains some of the psychological barriers to understanding evolution at Scientific American.

In short, humans intuitively expect order to be the result of a conscious design.

I find this subject especially interesting because it parallels my favorite topic-- the widespread denial of basic economics.

Like evolution, markets create order without the guidance of a conscious designer. Despite the overwhelming consensus on this, many laymen still believe that the economic order is controlled by rapacious businessmen who set monopoly prices (in competitive markets), exploit third world workers (by "forcing" them to accept low wages), etc. And the solution, of course, is to change the designer, usually to the government.

2 comments:

Brad Taylor said...

Indeed. Dennett expresses the idea wonderfully in The Intentional Stance.

Folks seem to not only see powerful businesspeople as controlling the system, but also to attribute agency to 'the system' itself. People talk about capitalism being a heartless system, for example. I think everyone would admit that capitalism and socialism don't have nay psychological characteristics if directly asked, but I suspect a psychological model of the system does a lot of work in helping people understand the world.

Skeptikos said...

I actually haven't read anything by Dennett yet... and you're the second person this week to bring him up with me.

So I guess I should get on that. : )