Reality Blind - Vol. 1

Evolved to be Wrong: Bias and Delusion as Adaptive Traits

“ Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and corporations. As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google.”

― Yuval Noah Harari , Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Summary: In this section, we’ll discuss some aspects of the jarring mismatch between human thought and the way the

physical world actually exists. And moreover, that this is no accident but an evolutionary inevitability. This requires some explanatory unpacking, for why would evolution produce delusional creatures? Surely, evolution must progressively hone organisms’ ability to discern the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And indeed, that’s what most philosophers of science had assumed for thousan ds of years. It makes perfect sense, but it turns out to be wrong. The conceptual error the philosophers were making was the assumption that selecting for “veridical perception” (physical truth) is equivalent to selecting for fitness, when in fact fitness is determined by the usefulness of perceptions, not their accuracy . It turns out that evolution simply doesn’t care whether an organism perceives physical truth, as long as what it DOES perceive is useful in the circumstances of the moment. Mathematical simulations now show that competing organisms which are selected for


Powered by