Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How Superstitions Begin

In a famous experiment with pigeons, an automatic feed is set to release at regular intervals with no relation to behavior. This resulted in tricking the birds into repeating the action they did when food is first released:
One bird was conditioned to turn counter-clockwise about the cage, making two or three turns between reinforcements. Another repeatedly thrust its head into one of the upper corners of the cage. A third developed a 'tossing' response, as if placing its head beneath an invisible bar and lifting it repeatedly.
This has got me wondering not only what my superstitions are, but what first caused them. Here's a 10 year old girl that refuses to let a shark bite make her superstitious. Just as interesting, apparently luck helps when you believe it. Also related, here's a TED talk by the publisher of Skeptic Magazine on why we believe strange things.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.