Nigerian police detain goat over armed robbery + Biological root of superstition

By | January 23, 2009

Nigerian police detain goat over armed robbery + Biological root of superstition

Police in Nigeria are holding a goat on suspicion of attempted armed robbery.

Vigilantes took the black and white beast to the police saying it was an armed robber who had used black magic to transform himself into a goat to escape arrest after trying to steal a Mazda 323.

“The group of vigilante men came to report that while they were on patrol they saw some hoodlums attempting to rob a car. They pursued them. However one of them escaped while the other turned into a goat,” Kwara state police spokesman Tunde Mohammed told Reuters by telephone.

“We cannot confirm the story, but the goat is in our custody. We cannot base our information on something mystical. It is something that has to be proved scientifically, that a human being turned into a goat,” he said.

Belief in witchcraft is widespread in parts of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. Residents came to the police station to see the goat, photographed in one national newspaper on its knees next to a pile of straw.

via Nigerian police detain goat over armed robbery – Yahoo! News.

Explanation, we evolved to be superstitious.

Superstitions often seem irrational, even stupid, but they a widespread and pervasive part of human life. Why is this?

Using a mathematical model, we investigated whether superstitious behaviours are a predicted product of evolution by natural selection.

The results are clear: superstitions are a part of adaptive behaviour in all organisms as they attempt to make sense of an uncertain world. Humans are heavily affected by culture as well as evolution.

Nevertheless, our analysis suggests that cultural effects are shaped by an evolved tendency to readily associate events, so readily that individuals often make superstitious mistakes. … – medicalnews

One interpretation is that evolution, ironically, created religion.

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