Open Peer Commentary
I take up the challenge of why false beliefs are better than “cautious action policies” (target article, sect. 9) in navigating adaptive problems with asymmetric errors. I then suggest that there are interactions between supernatural beliefs, self-deception, and positive illusions, rendering elements of all such misbeliefs adaptive. Finally, I argue that supernatural beliefs cannot be rejected as adaptive simply because recent experiments are inconclusive. The great costs of religion betray its even greater adaptive benefits – we just have not yet nailed down exactly what they are.
The evolution of misbelief Ryan T. McKay and Daniel C. Dennett Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, University of Zurich, Zurich 8006, Switzerland; and Centre for Anthropology and Mind, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6PE, United Kingdom email@example.com http://homepage.mac.com/ryantmckay/; The Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155-7059 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/incbios/dennettd/dennettd.htm