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TitleThe Biased Mind
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The Biased Mind

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5 Our Detective Mind Grasps Clues and Narrates 87

On the other hand, as we have discussed in “the paranoid optimist theory”,38
seeing intentions behind events also offers an adaptive advantage. The costs of
imagining an agent behind random occurrences are less than those of ignor-
ing a potential agent. Indeed, as CSI Grissom points out (see the beginning
of the chapter), the cavemen who believed that a movement in the savannah
grass was due to the wind carried genes that left fewer heirs to testify.

So our magical thinking may be a consequence of our adaptively relevant
propensities to look for agents and patterns, at the expense of truth. Pascal
Boyer, anthropologist and Professor at Washington University in St. Louis,
states that “religious concepts are parasitic upon other mental capacities”.39

38 Haselton, M. G. and Nettle, D., 2006
39 Boyer, P., 2001

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6
Images Call More to Mind
Than Words and Numbers

As for the terrified Spanish soldiers entering into unknown territories, our
guts sometimes take over. In the following stories, you might encounter your
deeply rooted emotions, hunger, sex, and danger, fear of air travel, and blood-
stained news. Walking on sunshine and reading terrifying anecdotes, you will
almost bite a worm in an apple and chill witnessing Jack’s skull being crushed
by a semi-trailer… Finally, after a long series of reds, you will be craving for
the black to come out at roulette.

As for the Spaniards, Atabalipa (Atahualpa) heard from Indians who were spies, that
the Spaniards had all gathered in a shed, full of fear, and that none of them had shown
himself on the open place; and it was the truth, what was said by the Indian, because I
heard many Spanish were urinating on themselves from pure terror without feeling it.1

Picture: painting of Atahualpa with the “conquistadores”

1 Pedro Pizarro. The original Spanish text reads: Pues estando así los españoles, fue la noticia a Atabalipa,
de indios que tenía espiando, que los españoles estaban todos metidos en un galpón, llenos de miedo, y que
ninguno parescía por la plaza; y á la verdad el indio la decía, porque yo oí a muchos españoles que sin sentirlo
se orinaban de puro temor.

J. Boutang, M. De Lara, The Biased Mind,
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-16519-6_6, © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

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