Hunters of Myths: Why Our Brains Love Origins | Literally Psyched, Scientific American Blog Network

Hunters of Myths: Why Our Brains Love Origins | Literally Psyched, Scientific American Blog Network.

There have been numerous facebook posts, memes, tweets, and the like about what the hell eggs and chocolate bunnies have to do with Jesus. It’s something I’ve always wondered myself. Scientific American had Hunters of Myths: Why Our Brains Love Origins as a featured article to help us out a little. It seems, in part, to be just our nature. There’s something extremely satisfying about finding an answer. So satisfying in fact, that it encourages us to use better reasoning.

In fact, development psychologist Alison Gopnik has proposed that coming up with explanations may be so fulfilling in its own right that it motivates us to engage in more substantial reasoning. She compares the effect to that of an orgasm, writing “From our phenomenological point of view, it may seem to us that we construct and use theories in order to achieve explanations or have sex in order to achieve orgasm. From an evolutionary point of view, however, the relationship is reversed: we experience orgasms and explanations to ensure that we make babies and theories.”

In addition, explaining things to someone else helps us to better comprehend the material.  The “self-explanation effect” has been tested:

…students who explain textbook material perform better on tests of that material than those who study it twice. Students who are trained in self-explanation perform better on math problem-solving tests—and are better able to learn new mathematical concepts.

This probably explains why I ran around my dorm trying to explain science to people who I new didn’t really care… Helped me out though! So, the next time you’re not sure you get what you’re studying, find someone who’ll at least pretend to listen to you and chat about it! Might earn you a better grade!

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One thought on “Hunters of Myths: Why Our Brains Love Origins | Literally Psyched, Scientific American Blog Network

  1. Pingback: Worm Discovery Illuminates How Our Brains Might Have Evolved « Στα ίχνη της Γνώσης … Tracing Knowledge

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