Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why believe in things that make it tough on you? (3) Maybe this is why.

I've wondered before why so many LGBT people adhere to religions that hate them and generally to anti-rationalism. I may have found at least part of the explanation.

According to this article,
Defining “illusory pattern perception” (what I call “patternicity”) as “the identification of a coherent and meaningful interrelationship among a set of random or unrelated stimuli ... (such as the tendency to perceive false correlations, see imaginary figures, form superstitious rituals, and embrace conspiracy beliefs, among others),” the researchers’ thesis was that “when individuals are unable to gain a sense of control objectively, they will try to gain it perceptually.” As Whitson explained the psychology to me, “Feelings of control are essential for our well-being—we think clearer and make better decisions when we feel we are in control. Lacking control is highly aversive, so we instinctive­ly seek out patterns to regain control—even if those patterns are illusory.”
Since LGBT people so often feel out of control of our lives, perhaps we cling to nonsensical woo-woo as a way gaining perceptual control. This may also explain one of the leading paradoxes of religion, namely, why members of oppressed groups so often cling to the very religions that are oppressing them.

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