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See Inside December 2008

Patternicity: Finding Meaningful Patterns in Meaningless Noise

Why the brain believes something is real when it is not

In support of a genetic selection model, Foster and Kokko note that “predators only avoid nonpoisonous snakes that mimic a poisonous species in areas where the poisonous species is common” and that even such simple organisms as “Escherichia coli cells will swim towards physiologically inert methylated aspartate presumably owing to an adaptation to favour true aspartate.”

Such patternicities, then, mean that people believe weird things because of our evolved need to believe nonweird things.

Note: This article was originally published with the title, "Patternicity".

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