Ask a three-year-old girl why she thinks it's raining, and she may say "because the flowers are thirsty". His brother could also tell you that trees have leaves to provide shade for people and animals. These are examples of teleological thinking, the idea that things have been created and exist for a specific purpose.
The teleological explanations of natural phenomena are rejected by scientists because they appeal to intentions. But trees do not grow leaves and rain clouds do not let go of water for a final result. It rains because of physics . And this physics would also apply if there were no flowers or other life on the planet.
Take teleology a step further and you'll get Donald Trump, who thinks global warming is a Chinese invention that makes the US manufacturing sector uncompetitive. There is growing evidence that engaging in conspiracy theories predisposes people to reject scientific discoveries, from to climate change to vaccines ] and AIDS .
And researchers have now discovered that teleological thinking also relates beliefs to conspiracy theories and creationism.
Teleological and conspiratorial thoughts share a number of points in common. To give a purpose to things is at the heart of both ways of thinking. The flowers would produce a delicious scent to attract pollinators, and climatologists would have invented a hoax called known as climate change at the request of the "world government" or George Soros.
It is the emphasis on the attribution of an objective that makes teleological thought and conspiratorial thinking so attractive. In everyday life, assigning intentions is often perfectly logical.
If someone asks you why your daughter turned on the television, it may be perfectly accurate and appropriate to answer "because her favorite show is going on." But giving such a presumed purpose to trees, clouds and other natural phenomena can produce a false understanding.
There is ample evidence that people are captivated by teleological thinking and find it hard to leave. A study showed that even scientists, when they were pressed for time, fell into the teleological thinking that they would reject if given more time because they were more likely to be dead. Endorse claims such as "Germs mutate to become drug-resistant" (even less likely to do so than a sample of participants from the community).
Another study found that when students are placed in a situation where they lack control, they easily resort to the perception of conspiracies and the development of superstitions.
The New Study of the University of Freiburg, published in Current Biology provides evidence linking teleological thinking, conspiracy theories, and the rejection of scientific facts about evolution. Perhaps more than any other well-established scientific discovery, evolution has constantly fought the misconceptions arising from teleological thinking.
In fact, the teleological reasoning is so ubiquitous that there is a lot of evidence that it weakens people's ability to learn the concept of natural selection in the first place.
It is tempting to think that giraffes needed long necks to reach the leaves at from the top of the trees and evolution thus provided them with long necks. This teleological notion contradicts the fact that natural selection did not have such an objective in mind.
There were natural variations in the population, and longer-necked animals had better breeding success in an environment with tall trees. The giraffe has evolved and the longer necks have become the norm.
Friborg researchers conducted three studies with more than 2,000 participants in total. Echoing previous studies the results showed that teleological thought was associated with the rejection of evolution and the acceptance of its pseudo-scientific alternative, creationism .
But the researchers also showed a strong association between creationism and conspiracy.
People who believed in creationism also tended to believe in conspiracy theories, regardless of their religious or political beliefs. The plot was also associated with teleological thinking.
This confirms that the object search in random events, such as the death of Princess Diana in a drink-driving accident, or natural phenomena such as rain clouds or the giraffe neck, reflect an underlying common thought pattern.
Why do we deny science
These new findings are in line with other research that has linked the conspiracy and denial of science in many areas. Conventionally, the use of conspiracy theories to reject scientific accounts was explained as a way to avoid accepting an inconvenient truth.
A chain smoker who faces terrifying information about his habit could more easily accuse the medical facility of being an oligopolistic cartel than quitting.
Similarly, people who feel threatened by the mitigation of climate change, for example because it could raise the price of gasoline, might be more willing to think that 'Al Gore created a hoax rather than accepting 150 years of basic physics research .
The new study goes even further in the role of conspiracy thinking in creationism. This suggests that creationism itself could be perceived as a belief system involving the ultimate conspiracy theory: the intentional creation of all things.
This article is republished from The Conversation of Stephan Lewandowsky President of the Chair of Cognitive Psychology, of the University of Bristol under a license Creative Commons. Read the article original .