Wow. In this week’s Science, researchers Jennifer Whitson and Adam Galinsky have shown that when humans lack a sense of control, it increases their perception of patterns where none exist. This is great! I mean, really obvious, but really great. Now there’s evidence for why mediocre pitchers might cling to religion and guns toothbrushes and foul lines; or, according to the article, why “first-year MBA students are more susceptible to conspiratorial perceptions than are second-year students” (no mention of second-year conservation grad students…). Or, perhaps most importantly, why some people believe a missile hit the Pentagon. Wait, strike that, most importantly, why some people thought Saddam Hussein had to go. Somebody help me out — in the comments, can you tell me what this has to do with conservation?
Whitson, J. and A. Galinsky. Lacking Control Increases Illusory Pattern Perception. Science, 322:5898. (doi: 10.1126/science.1159845)