Why Stickiness is not Enough to Explain Persistence of Counterintuitive Religious Concepts

Abstract

Cognitive scientists of religion argue that religious ideas are widespread because they are minimally counterintuitive. Traditional lab studies have found support for a better memory for minimally counterintuitive concepts. This paper presents an in-depth case study of the spread of a counterintuitive religious idea in the real world. It finds that counterintuitiveness alone is not sufficient to guarantee persistence of a religious belief. Novel religious beliefs have to be painstakingly woven into the cultural fabric of a group’s shared social identity to ensure its survival.


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