Author: Michael Stone
Ignorance and defective thinking styles lead to religious superstition.
A poor understanding of the physical world is linked to religious and paranormal beliefs in a new study.
A recent study published June 2016 in Applied Cognitive Psychology connects belief in the supernatural (religious and paranormal beliefs) with poor reasoning skills, low information about basic physics and biology, and a propensity to assign intention and mentality to non-mental phenomena (magical thinking).
PsyPost reports the study shows that religious and paranormal (supernatural) beliefs are correlated with “poor intuitive physics skills, poor mechanical ability, poor mental rotation, low school grades in mathematics and physics, poor common knowledge about physical and biological phenomena, intuitive and analytical thinking styles, and in particular, with assigning mentality to non-mental phenomena.”
The following excerpt is from the summary of the article Does Poor Understanding of Physical World Predict Religious and Paranormal Beliefs?:
The results showed that supernatural beliefs correlated with all variables that were included, namely, with low systemizing, poor intuitive physics skills, poor mechanical ability, poor mental rotation, low school grades in mathematics and physics, poor common knowledge about physical and biological phenomena, intuitive and analytical thinking styles, and in particular, with assigning mentality to non-mental phenomena.
PsyPost reports that researchers conclude that “Nonscientific ways of thinking are resistant to formal instruction…” adding that this can “affect individuals’ ability to act as informed citizens to make reasoned judgments in a world that is increasingly governed by technology and scientific knowledge.”
In other words, low information coupled with defective thinking styles and limited cognitive abilities can not only lead to religious and supernatural beliefs but can also hinder the ability of individuals to “make reasoned judgments.”
Bottom line: The study results are not particularly surprising, and merely confirm what many others have long suspected: Religious and supernatural beliefs are often associated with poor reasoning skills and low information about the natural world.