liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

Fear leads to Magical Thinking

There's been a round of interesting research, published in Science magazine, about how people crave order when they are under stress, and that craving leads to all manner of interesting choices including adherence to conspiracy theories and superstition. There was a huge increase in the popularity of astrology during the Great Depression. What is about to happen now?? This vid is from one of the authors of the study, talking about how we make irrational decisions on a daily basis:

Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, presents examples of cognitive illusions that help illustrate why humans make predictably irrational decisions.

When I started hearing about research showing increased irrationality under stress, I thought of how people are often desperate when they finally go to a homeopath in hopes of a cure after being un-helped by other medical professionals. Perhaps this phenomenon, of the suspension of critical thinking induced by extreme stress, at least partly explains the widespread belief in homeopathy even among professionals in my field. Belief is a major component of placebo effect. This new research sheds light on how people come to believe things that are scientifically unsubstantiated.
Tags: belief, economics, fear, homeopathy, marketing, placebo, stress

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