From ancient times, people have been interested in divination practices such as astrology. Why? One obvious reason is to know the future. Why? From the evolutionary perspective, for survival purposes. It makes sense. Nowadays, most people feel secure in that domain, so why they still are interested in astrology and future divination. Is it just an unconscious reflex? Or something else. Neuroscience has one suggestion: to avoid uncertainty.
To ensure your survival, your brain evolved to avoid one thing: uncertainty. As neuroscientist Beau Lotto (the author Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently) points out, if your ancestors wondered for too long whether that noise was a predator or not, you wouldn’t be here right now. Our brains are geared to make fast assumptions, and questioning them in many cases quite literally equates to death. No wonder we’re so hardwired for confirmation bias. No wonder we’d rather stick to the status quo than risk the uncertainty of a better political model, a fairer financial system, or a healthier relationship pattern. But here’s the catch: as our brains evolved toward certainty, we simultaneously evolved away from creativity—that’s no coincidence; creativity starts with a question, with uncertainty, not with a cut and dried answer. To be creative, we have to unlearn millions of years of evolution. Creativity asks us to do that which is hardest: to question our assumptions, to doubt what we believe to be true. That is the only way to see differently. And if you think creativity is a chaotic and wild force, think again, says Beau Lotto. It just looks that way from the outside. The brain cannot make great leaps, it can only move linearly through mental possibilities. When a creative person forges a connection between two things that are, to your mind, so far apart, that’s a case of high-level logic. They have moved through steps that are invisible to you, perhaps because they are more open-minded and well-practiced in questioning their assumptions. Creativity, it seems, is another (highly sophisticated) form of logic.