11 Sep

So you think you’re in control?

‘Agent detection’.

Agent detection is the inclination to presume that when something happens that is not in our control, there must be a sentient, thinking agent involved that has acted intentionally.

Perhaps this tendency has evolutionary benefit, in that erring on the side of caution can prime us to take rapid action in the interest of survival. If so, once alerted, we’re not so quick in stepping back and seeing the wider picture, allowing ambiguity to have other explanations considered. Instead, we jump to conclusions.

Believing there is an agent behind every occurrence is not a balanced way to view the world. We need to encourage objective thought, otherwise we really will feel that ‘there’s something out there’.