Rituals are rational for the imperfect experimentalist
Humans are, by design, imperfect experimentalists. The cost of testing each step of a process exceeds the benefit of knowing which steps can be eliminated. To an outsider who knows which steps are superfluous, the actors appear superstitious, even ridiculous. Nonetheless, the exact duplication of all steps is rational for the imperfect experimentalist. The case of ritual in autism illustrates this point.
(Published Online February 8 2007)