Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Why are people Creationists?   posted by Razib @ 9/12/2006 06:22:00 PM

John Wilkins has a two part series up about why people are Creationists. He plans to continue it. John starts within the bounded rationality paradigm, which has a lot going for it. The only thing, which John might get to, is that rationality is not just bounded, it is strong biased toward particular conceptual structures. Children are not just indoctrinated into a Creationist narrative, they tend to prefer it when they are not taught otherwise. Psychologists like Paul Bloom have found that children are generally intuitive Creationists when young, but those raised by non-Creationist parents shed these beliefs, while those raised by Creationists do not.

Update: Part 3 is up. John hints at cognitive parameters. Part 4 is coming up.

Addendum: I will offer my own personal childhood experience with evolution. My parents never talked about this issue, and I didn't know that my father was a Creationist until I was a teenager (yes, I'm not close to my parents obviously). When I was 8 I checked out a book from the library about the "origin of humans" (I was into paleontology so I assumed it was about human evolution). That book turned out to be a Creationist book all about Ham, Shem and Japeth as the founders of the human race, and I was enraged and bitched out the librarian when I returned it as I believed there was some intellectual fraud going on here (I didn't say it in those words). I can't really recall the first time I read about evolution, probably when I was 7 as that was age that I had an avid interest in dinosaurs. I personally never found it peculiar, as I don't even recall being surprised or confused by the concept. It was as natural an idea for me as a God in heaven is for many children. Only in my teenage years did I comprehend that other humans might not find evolution such an "obvious" idea.

Update II: Part 4.

The main issue I would have with John's model is that I am personally skeptical of the reasoning powers of most of the human race. Nations with higher rates of acceptance of evolution are not necessarily ones where the populace is more well educated, rather, they are simply ones where organized higher institutions tend to accept evolution as a given, and so people avow the belief which is socially accepted. The US, and many Muslim nations (for example) have powerful elite counter-evolutionary movements in the form of religious literalism.