Monday, June 03, 2013

Superstition and Myth: A Bias of Narrative

Go Ahead. Try To Explain This. 
While setting up the Survivorship Bias post, I got to thinking about all of the biases that play into such ubiquitous curiosities like superstition, astrology, etc.

Unfortunately, though these subjects fall square in the middle of Modern Mythology's subject-matter, they also deserve ample time and attention. An entire book could be written on the subject of the cognitive biases at play in the 23 Enigma, Astrology, or the sense one may have of being cursed or attacked by magicians. These things refer to actual events, but our need for narrative and the cognitive biases produced drive us to go a little crazy in trying to explain away those events. These narratives that we build become re-enforced as they are shared by others, and further re-enforced in ourselves, as these little narratives turn into full-blown myths.

We might call these mythic reflexes mythic biases, to contrast them to the more commonly known cognitive bias. The two share much in common, and may have some amount of overlap.

A few of these biases:
  • Friendly (or Hostile) World Mythic Bias
  • Whatever You Look For Is Everywhere Mythic Bias
  • Happy Endings Mythic Bias
  • If It Happened Once... Mythic Bias (A form of Confirmation Bias)
In fact, all myths can present a sort of bias, if we integrate them enough with our lives that we expect to see them elsewhere. 

I hope to deal with this in more detail. So we will focus on this subject a bit more in coming posts.

First, it'd be worthwhile to refresh ourselves on the narrative tendency that was implied in the most popular page on this site, "What Is A Modern Myth?"

We will be looking at our need for Happy Endings on Tuesday. After that I hope to continue to look at some of the others.

In the interim, check out the You're Not So Smart blog, dedicated to the various cognitive and narrative/mythic biases at play in our understanding of the world.

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

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