Title 6 – May 2017 KQ 1: what role does Evolutionary Biology play in Humans to become “ Pattern Seeking Animals”?

In his book “ How we Believe” Michael Shermer argues that human brains are belief engines- kind of pattern recognition machines that connect the dots and create meaning out of the patterns that they see, observe and come across in nature. However these patterns MAY have meanings and well, MAY NOT have meanings at all.

Endowed with some meaning , understanding and recognition of these patterns , early Humans have learnt and known , not to forget , made predictions about the environment that has aided their survival and reproduction. Since the past thousand of years ,this innate process of connecting dots , making connections and linking things have laid the foundation of Associative Learning and Associative Memory in our Cognitive mechanisms.

In 2008, Michael Shermer coined the word “patternicity”, defining it as “the tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise” and argued further that this “Patternicity” comes with two types of errors:

Type 1 errors , the false positive finds a patterns where there is none and Type 2 errors, the false negative disregards a pattern even if there is one.Type 2 errors are more dangerous,specially when living in a Natural Environment with a Hunter-Gatherers daily routine and to increase our challanges more , the determination between these errors is difficult.

Thus the Evolution by Natural Selection through associative learning and transforming, honing and developing our brains into “ pattern-recognition engines” have succeeded in reducing Type 2 Errors but this success came at the expense of making MORE Type 1 errors. Though we have avoided the dangerous and costly Type 2 error, the final result is MORE Type 1 errors – errors that ,by natural selection, favour humans towards “Patternicity” .