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Psychology of Belief Part 9: Agenticity

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Uploaded on Jul 14, 2011

Answering the question of why people keep seeing "God" in perfectly natural phenomena.

Note that the second experiment was intended to be given to children. The bit with the pencil and the tiger is even verbatim with the actual experimental procedure. So if it seems a little condescending, then understand that it was designed for a five-year-old.

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[1] Barnes, G. L., "Origins of the Japanese islands: the new 'big picture,'" Japan Review, Vol 15, pp. 3-50 (2003)

[2] Heider, F. and Simmel, M., "An experimental study of apparent behavior," The American Journal of Psychology, Vol 57, No 2, pp 243 -- 259 (1944)

[3] Bowler D. M., and Thommen, E., "Attribution of mechanical and social causality to animated displays by children with autism," Autism, Vol 4, No 2, 147-171 (2000)

[4] Heberlein, A. S. and Adolphs, R. "Impaired spontaneous anthropomorphizing despite intact perception and social knowledge," Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Vol 101, No 19, pp 7487 - 7491 (2004)

[5] Shermer, M. "Agenticity: Why people believe that invisible agents control the world," Scientific American, Vol 300, No 6, pp 36 (2009)

[6] Harnik, R., Kribs, G. D., and Perez, G., "A universe without weak interactions," Physical Review D, Vol 74, 035006 (2006)

[7] Kelemen, D., "The scope of teleological thinking in preschool children," Cognition, Vol 70, No 3, pp. 241 - 272 (1999)

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