Remember my new man-crush, neuroscientist and skeptic Steven Novella? He’s got a great item on his NeuroLogica blog today: Hyperactive Agency Detection.
When HADD is triggered and we think we see the hidden agent, it speaks to us in a very primal way. For some people the perception of hidden agency becomes overwhelming, dominating all other thought processes. We know these people as conspiracy theorists. But there is a little conspiracy theorist inside each of us.
He talks about the evolutionary underpinnings of humans’ tendency to partition the world into two classes of entities — agents and objects — and the possible role this may play in our collective tendency toward conspiracy theories and religion.