Fateful reasoning, such as the belief that certain events are “meant to be” or that “everything happens for a reason,” is extremely common across humanity. This kind of thinking, called teleological thinking, probably has a number of psychological benefits, which speaks to its allure as a compelling cognitive bias. It has even been a feature in the thinking of some of the most influential philosophers in history, from Plato and Aristotle to Georg Hegel.
Unfortunately, teleological thinking can lead to deeply fallacious and pathological thinking as well. In fact, a new study out of the University of Fribourg has found that a basic cognitive error at the heart of teleological thinking is also correlated with two types of other forms of popular but fallacious belief systems: creationism and conspiracy theory, reports MedicalXpress.
“We find a previously unnoticed common thread between believing in creationism and believing in conspiracy theories,” explained researcher Sebastian Dieguez. “Although very different at first glance, both these belief systems are associated with a single and powerful cognitive bias named teleological thinking, which entails the perception of final causes and overriding purpose in naturally occurring events and entities.”