About SuperSense by Prof Bruce Hood
President elect Barak Obama played a game of basketball the morning of his victory in the Iowa primary, and continued the tradition the day of every following primary.
Superstitious habits are common. Do you ever cross your fingers, knock on wood, avoid walking under ladders, or step around black cats? Sentimental value often supercedes material worth. Do you believe in an afterlife?
Belief in things beyond what’s rational or natural are common to humans. Where do such beliefs come from and why do most of us have them? I think that it’s partly to do with believing what we are told but I also think there is another more personal reason.
Humans are born with brains designed to make sense of the world and that sometimes leads to beliefs that go beyond any natural explanation. To be true they would have to be supernatural. With scientific education children can learn that such beliefs are irrational but because they operate at an intuitive level they can either be resistant to reason or lie dormant in otherwise sensible adults.
Therefore it is unlikely that any effort to get rid of supernatural beliefs, or the superstitious behaviors that accompany them, will be successful. Moreover, these beliefs are essential in binding us together as a society. We are inclined from the start to think that there are unseen patterns, forces and essences inhabiting the world. This way of thinking is unavoidable, and it may be part of human nature to see ourselves connected to each other at this deeper level.
In the vein of Blink, I explore how we may be pre-wired with a mind design that creates our “SuperSense” that shapes our intuitions and superstitions and is essential to the way we learn to understand the world and in binding us together as a society.
Read reviewers comments here.
SuperSense is published in UK June 2009