Believing Stories

[Avery Andrews 950502]
(Bill Powers (950429.1540 MDT))
(Rick Marken (950429.2230))
(Dag Forssell (950501 1150)_

I think there may be a very simple reason why people are so gullible: in our
evolutionary environment, the fact that Uncle Fred was still alive was
an excellent reason to believe that he knew what he was talking about,
over a broad range of topics - where there is water to be found, where
the antelope go in springtime, etc. Presumably believing Uncle Fred's
junk information was less costly than being sceptical of the stuff he
was actually on target about, so our dumb genes bias us in favor of
believing what we are told, at least until the teller is clearly revealed
as a liar and/or fool.

But in a modern environment, this isn't true at all, so skepticism has
to be *taught* (a certain WTP being one of my instructors in this area),
and I certainly agree 100% with Rick's observation that it takes a while
to learn!

Avery.Andrews@anu.edu.au