The Hidden Origins of Ideas

bycleonid10y28th Mar 20097 comments



It is well known that people tend to inherit their world view toghether with their genes.  Buddhists are born to the Buddhists, Muslims are born to the Muslims and Republicans are born to the Republicans. While rejecting Predestination, a XVI century catholic could be fairly certain that, unlike hell-bound pagans in the Amazonian forests, most of his descendants would also be catholics.

Naturally independent minds can occasionally break with the tradition. A catholic, finding the Pope’s stance on Predestination inconsistent with the Scriptures, might turn to Protestantism. Hence, the invention of the printing press that made Bibles widely available may have been the root cause of the Reformation. Similarly, the spread of literacy to the lower classes may have eroded the influence of the church and popularized the secular ideologies, such as Marxism.

But could it be that when we break with the traditional mode of thinking, we are driven not by superior intellects or newly acquired knowledge, but rather by something we are not even aware of? Let’s take as an example the spread of seemingly unrelated ideologies of Protestantism and Marxism.




From left to right: The european countries painted blue are those with Germanic majority, those with large numbers of protestants (>45% of all believers), and those where communists electoral vote failed to rise above 10% within the last 60 years.

While the maps are not identical, there seems to be a strong correlation between peoples’ ethnic origins, their religious histories and the openness to the communist ideas. Of course, correlation does not imply causation. However, strong correlation between our views and those of people with a similar background, may suggest that factors other than logic are responsible for them. Unless, as in my case, a similar background means smarter/ more virtuous/ more rational/ getting secret revelations from Omega/… (circle the right answer).