A flaw in the thinking that unites creationists and conspiranoids

Says Steven Pinker in Los Angeles that leads within humanity took a great leap forward when he decided to accept that much of the misfortunes is not behind the will of a God angry with our behavior or the spell of a witch. The English phrase "shit happens" is one of the foundations of civilization. Scientific thought in particular, the idea that "everything happens for a reason" or that something "had to happen". However, they are phrases that are often heard with some frequency.

In a recent article published in the journal Current Biology, a group of researchers led by Sebastian Dieguez, from the University of Freiburg (Switzerland), has tried to understand what is behind this type of thinking flaws and has found a relationship between two Evidence seemingly separate: creationism and theories of conspiracy.

"Both belief systems share a very powerful cognitive bias that we know as teleological thinking," says Dieguez. "It is a way to deal with complex issues but they are easy to understand if we have a distant and last cause that made everything as it is now," he continues. "In the case of creationism, that ultimate cause is God, who created everything as we know it," he adds.

That way of thinking made the appearance of the theory of evolution difficult, because it was a less intuitive way of understanding the world. "The way of thinking that says that trees have leaves to give us shade or that the sun rises to warm us up, seems to be something very intuitive and is the way the brain works spontaneously, seeing that things are good for something", indicates Dieguez. "Small children, for the most part, think like that, whether they are children of a religious family or not. And neither is it a completely stupid way of thinking, because to say that white bears are white to hide in the snow makes sense. That way seems the easiest to assume for the human being, but scientific progress and especially Darwin's theory of evolution has given us another way of seeing reality, "he says.

In previous works that try to understand these ways of thinking, Dieguez had shown that conspiracy is not explained because it is believed that nothing happens by accident. The conspiracy see that the world is complex and that there are random factors in its operation, but still believe that what happens in the world has one or several active minds behind that make it happen with an intention. The researcher from the University of Freiburg saw similarities between this way of thinking and creationism and tried to see if both were related to teleological thought and were related to each other. "Conspiracy is a way of thinking that does not involve a creator god but a group of people identified, but very nebulous, very strange, hidden, that clarifies everything," Dieguez recalls. "Everything you see is an attack or a natural disaster, it seems very complicated, but it is easy to understand if a distant and ultimate cause is the explanation of everything that made it as it is," he concludes.

After studying several groups of people in Switzerland and France from questionnaires, they observed that there was an association between believing in creationism and conspiracy theories. By pointing out this relationship, the authors want to highlight the flaws in this type of theories so that people can detect them. "Conspiracy is a kind of creationism that refers to the social world and knowing it can help to deal with some of the most widespread problems within our post-truth era."

"Creationism is a kind of conspiracy theory because to believe it, you must also believe that scientists or biologists are not only wrong but have a plan to discredit religion and sacred texts. It is a conspiracy against God, "says Dieguez. "On the other hand, conspiracy theories are a form of sociological creationism. As soon as you see something that is spectacular like a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, you are looking for a very clear explanation and a function. That has been seen with the bridge in Genoa. On Twitter and Facebook there are people saying that it is very strange that it happens now when there are certain problems in politics in Italy or France and that it is used to distract people's attention from other problems. Someone managed to make it happen completely perfectly and hidden for something, although it is not clear who did it or for what, "he concludes.

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