Steven Novella on Hyperactive Agency Detection

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.

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