More than what parents said

A_Nony_Mouse's picture
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More than what parents said

Being a social species who learn and speak, our knowledge has never been only our own. As a group our pool of knowledge has always been greater than our own. A trivial observation of course. I can range from don't eat the leaves of that plant to don't eat food from bulging cans. And open the cans before heating the food. Tons of day in, day out knowledge we did not gain the hard way.

For all practical purposes we would be fools to ignore group knowledge. It brings much greater benefits than dangers. If in error and dangerous as a group the odds are against us being the one to learn it is dangerous first.

Essentially everything we learned growing up and learned through adult life has been correct as to beneficial or harmful. There is a third category such as politics which is essentially neutral save in stupid extremes which are rare to be tried. Similarly most religions are neutral. But in the things we learn when growing up there are warnings about extremes of politics and religion.

In the broad stream of correct collective knowledge which is mostly true and useful, religion does not need a god region of the brain to explain. It simply comes as part of valuable information. Whether or not it is correct is immaterial unless it results in harmful information keeping in mind group knowledge warns against extremes of religion. There is really no general reason for people to question much less reject religion. And god is different from religion and is a different step.

Anyone paying attention to atheists could write a companion to James on The Varieties of Atheist Experience. There are classes of exceptions to the useful common knowledge rule.

As we see from western Europe when religion falls out of the collective knowledge it just does and is not missed. How it got into collective knowledge in the first place is not clear. But as long as it is neutral like junk DNA it stays. It also goes without loss. There are lots of examples of junk knowledge before getting to religion.

Here we can look at junk memes as neutral. It is said that Americans will change religion before changing political parties there is no objective evidence that either party is better than the other in practice. Do not look at what they say. Look at what they do. Asparagus is good or bad for you is neutral. Smoking is bad for you unless it leads to obesity in which case it is more or less neutral as to cause of death. That is as far as I will go as examples of neutral/junk knowledge as people tend to get violent on the most neutral as in religion. What has no value must be given value.

In Reformation times religion was a matter of group identity. It was the same when Christianity was expanding and defending against Islam. However which religion was always fungible so it remains junk. Life is not better with or without religion nor dependent upon which religion. To continue a genetic analogy it does not have to be junk DNA. It can be functioning DNA but on a thing like eye color, a difference without significance.


Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

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While the idea that we as a

While the idea that we as a species know more than any individual of our species is quite obviously true, group knowledge per se is neither totally accurate nor even meaningful in its innaccuracy.
Old wives tales sprang up in every corner of civilisation, and the vast majority of them are false. Most of them, if not all of them, are still in use in various communities and nations, despite their being proved wrong.
Usually, such beliefs that sprang from confirmation bias are harmless, which is why they still persevere in this unprecedented age of available knowledge, but not always.

Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.