« on: February 03, 2013, 03:38:21 pm »
So the Good Rev. Roger prodded my brain meat with his bit about Lousiana mounds and Romero zombie flicks. In brief, he cited how one ancient human could have a fit and end up in a coma. His fellow tribal peeps, or whatever, decide he is dead and put him in the burial cave. Mistakes happen. Then a few days later, lucky wakes up in the cave and staggers out. Barely coherent, emaciated, weak, a more than a little spooked waking up amongst the dead. His fellows get a bit of a shock too, seeing someone who was "DEAD" rise and walk.
The natural thing to do when presented with such a weird new sight is to kill it really fuckin' hard. (Say what you like about humans being adaptable. We will drive ourselves over cliffs screaming that the road SHOULD have been there.) Anyways, when they re-bury lucky john, he gets tied up too, just to make SURE. The rest of their dead get the same treatment too. Can't be too careful.
That was the gist of the Good Reverend's bit.
My other source for this comes from baseball, of all things. Watch the batters, the pitchers. Look at all the little rituals. How they twitch the cap, spit, step forward... It is all their accumulated ritual to placate themselves that they are replicating circumstance that led to success before, and will do the same this time.
Now what about Ank the pre-civilization hunter, who notices he throws the spear better one hunt after he's slept on an aurochs hide instead of a zebra hide? He tells some other folks about this, and everyone who also has success adds to the mythos. IF enough share the success, Ank is more than just a hunter now. He knows a way to make everyone else better hunters. Goddamn Holy Man time.
This sort of personal superstition, it has been pointed out, is much easier to acquire than loose. The number of times it works will reinforce a disproportionate number of times it doesn't. Even situations where the given behavior may have NO effect on anything will appear as support. Cramulus wrote about this once in his bit on the "Texas Sharpshooter" fallacy, and psych 101 textbooks will mentioned abserver error too.
So, how many generations of this do you think it takes us to get organized religions? Hell, the older it gets the BETTER it is! It's not just "Hey, Ank thinks this works, try it.", it is now "WISDOM OF THE ANCIENTS!". Some more grounded philosophy, ethics, and practices have crept in, sure. (Eating pork or shellfish in a desert, where it will spoil in half a day without modern refrigeration, is a good example of something not to do.) The rest of it though, chew it over.
Cheer to "Strange and Mysterious Ways",