Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The tendency to find patterns in meaningless noise.

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From pattern +‎ -icity; coined by Michael Shermer in 2008.

Examples

  • Therefore any "tree of life" would be due to what Mike Shermer calls "patternicity".

    A Disclaimer for Behe?

  • I call it 'patternicity', or the tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise.

    Archive 2008-11-01

  • I call it "patternicity," or the tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise. "

    Roots of Conspiracy Exposed

  • Knowing what Shermer knows about "patternicity" and "agenticity" may not make all that much difference.

    Glenn C. Altschuler: Godspells

  • In previous columns I have provided partial answers, citing patternicity (the tendency to find meaningful patterns in random noise) and agenticity (the bent to believe the world is controlled by invisible intentional agents).

    Boing Boing

  • I call these two processes patternicity (the tendency to find meaningful patterns in both meaningful and meaningless data) and agenticity (the tendency to infuse patterns with meaning, intention and agency).

    Why Belief in God Is Innate

  • The answer has two parts, starting with the concept of “patternicity,” which I defined in my December 2008 column as the human tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise.

    Scientific American - Why People Believe Invisible Agents Control the World

  • Together patternicity and agent­icity form the cognitive basis of shamanism, paganism, animism, polytheism, monotheism, and all modes of Old and New Age spiritualisms.

    Scientific American - Why People Believe Invisible Agents Control the World

  • Recently readers at OEN have been treated to a first-hand view of the phenomenon described by psychologists as "patternicity."

    Roots of Conspiracy Exposed

  • But that's all it is, opinion with patternicity artifacts as "proof."

    Roots of Conspiracy Exposed

Comments

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  • I'd just like to pop in here and tell isoglossian that using the phrase "I'm not wordie enough" shows true Wordieness. :-)

    May 2, 2009

  • I don't think there is any paradox involved. The word "meaningless" has meaning as a word: "lacking meaning". Hence, it is clearly heterological, because its meaning cannot be applied to the word itself, just as the meaning "long" cannot be applied to the word "long" (because it has only four letters).

    April 25, 2009

  • I understand what you mean by "codes" and the meaning of "meaningless" and can agree with that. But I fear that logically saying "meaningless has meaning" or "meaningless is meaningful" would result in a similar example of Grelling-Nelson paradox, which happens to the pair--autological and heterological. Maybe there's no paradox, it's just that I haven't thought it through~

    April 25, 2009

  • Not everything is meaningful, therefore, "meaningless" is meaningful and not autological. But meaning depends on the code being used, and it is human to seek meaning, and therefore to presume the existence of codes we can understand. No one who did not believe in the Virgin Mary or in the ability of spiritual entities to manifest themselves physically in quotidian objects would ever see the BVM in a certain configuration of pancake syrup, which would then be for them meaningless, despite the best efforts of the Mother of God. I am a devout believer in the meaning of "meaningless".

    April 25, 2009

  • I can agree with your dislike about the word-formation. I think I'm not wordie enough to find what they are using in cognitive science now. However, I do think what Mr Shermer means by "meaningless" is about the absence of physical/mathematical meaning, or physically significant meaning, except using one's imagination~

    You may ask whether "meaningless" is autological, or whether "meaningless" is meaningless, that's a good question, but that's linguistics~

    April 25, 2009

  • If one finds meaningful patterns in something, how can that something be called meaningless? Is meaning exclusively the product of intention, or do we create meaning by perceiving? If a person sees the image of the Virgin Mary in the syrup on a pancake and takes that as a sign of grace, which subsequently transforms this person's life, was the configuration of the syrup meaningless?

    Personally, I don't like the word patternicity, which from the -ic-ity suffixes one would expect to mean the property of tending to possess pattern, not that of tending to perceive pattern.

    I'm surprised that cognitive psychologists don't have a term for this notion, since pattern perception is such an intrinsic part of learning. Or perhaps they prefer to use words that are simpler but clearer, if less arcane, like "the tendency to perceive patterns." Or perhaps, they just call it something cumbersomely German, like Gestaltwahrnehmungsfähigkeit.

    April 25, 2009

  • Michael Shermer defined it in the December 2008 issue of Scientific American as "the tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise". For more see here.

    An indeed interest idea, but I don't think it's brand new, even though I couldn't find any precursing phrases with similar meaning~

    April 25, 2009