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Shamanism within a general theory of religious action (no cheesecake needed)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2018

Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi*
Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel.


Singh places the understanding of shamanism within the cognitive/evolutionary psychology of religion but is then sidetracked by presenting unhelpful analogies. The concepts of “superstition” as a general term for religious rituals and of “superstitious learning” as a mechanism accounting for the creation of rituals in humans reflect an underestimation of the human imagination, which is guided by cognitive/evolutionary constraints. Mentalizing, hypervigilance in agent detection, and anthropomorphism explain the behaviors involved in religious illusions (or delusions).

Open Peer Commentary
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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