British Science Festival talk explores supersense
Press release issued: 8 September 2009
Where do our supernatural beliefs come from? Are we simply indoctrinated by culture and religion or is there another route for believing in the unbelievable? These are some of the questions that will be tackled by Professor Bruce Hood in a talk on Wednesday 9 September as part of this year’s British Science Festival at the University of Surrey.
These are some of the questions that will be tackled by Professor Bruce Hood, a developmental psychologist at Bristol University, in a talk on Wednesday 9 September as part of this year’s British Science Festival at the University of Surrey.
Professor Hood’s talk, based on his new book, SuperSense: From Superstition to Religion – the Brain Science of Belief, will argue the case that many supernatural beliefs have their origin in the developing child as a by-product of the way their brains make sense of the world though intuitive reasoning. Such natural inclinations also account for the propensity to believe in some individuals who rely on their intuitive reasoning compared to non-believers.
This position is a challenge to those who argue that supernatural beliefs come from religious indoctrination and poor education. Rather Professor Hood argues that religions capitalise on our inclination to view the world in a particular way that makes supernatural beliefs so universal and strong.
In addition to presenting the evidence from developmental studies of children, Professor Hood will be introducing recent research on secular supernatural beliefs that he claims that even atheists may hold. Such beliefs explain much about memorabilia fetishism, attitudes to organ transplantation and stigmatised houses where murders have been committed as well as concerns regarding genetic modification. He will be describing his ongoing studies on the emergence and decline in supernatural beliefs and the way that neuroimaging may reveal latent intuitions that we suppress as adults.
The talk, SuperSense – the Brain Science of Belief, is organised in collaboration with the ESRC and supported by The Leverhulme Trust and the British Council. It will take place in Austin Pearce 4, University of Surrey on Wednesday 9 September, 4pm to 6pm.