Really nice article by Jonah Lehrer on “The Illusion of Streaks” that ties in well both with an earlier post I’d written here, and with an argument I was trying to make in a bar this weekend. The basic premise is that the human brain has evolved in a manner that leads to a distrust of scientific reasoning and a dislike of doing the math in favor of stories. As a species, we tend to impose pattern where there is, in fact, no actual pattern.

Lehrer’s article looks at this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, along with several studies on basketball and baseball, and discusses how we perceive players to be having “hot streaks”, when in fact, such things don’t exist. This continues to strike me as a major stumbling block in our scientific educational efforts. Fairy tales and fantasies just seem to work better for the human brain than fact-based reasoning.