Hitting the news today was research using data from around the word which showed that children from non-religious families were more altruistic and empathetic than their religious counterparts. This is interesting because it fits into a wider picture as to how religion works in tandem with identity, psychology and religion.
I gave a talk last night to the Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub group on my Case Against God. It went down an absolute treat. Packed to the rafters to almost twice its small capacity (people sitting on the floor and all), there were some great questions and audience interaction. I really loved it and I gather so did the audience. Woo hoo! However, it was really interesting that there were a number of committed Christians in the audience, not least a woman in the front row.
John D. Bargh is a psychologist with an interest in matters concerning free will. He edited a superb book on psychology and free will which I would advise anyone to get called Are We Free? From it, this excerpt was interesting, especially given recent conversations defending naturalism with a fellow Tippling Philosopher by email who thinks that human minds are too far removed from the rest of the animal kingdom to be explicable by naturalistic evolution (pp. 145-146):
Consciousness — the internal dialogue that seems to govern one’s thoughts and actions — is far less powerful than people believe, serving as a passive conduit rather than an active force that exerts control, according to a new theory proposed by an SF State researcher.
I did an interview yesterday on the popular UK podcast Godless Spellchecker mainly on the topic of free will, but…
The general election is only just over, and I am sorry for being off my usual topics. I will return to them shortly. I would like to provoke thought on what motivates voters to vote for particular parties, briefly and rather anecdotally and theoretically.
Dr Caleb Lack has had three books published on my Onus Books imprint and I am glad to announce his fourth; this time he has edited and contributed to an important anthology dealing with the psychology and treatment of OCD. This book provides a vital reference of experts and students in the field, to psychologists seeking an academic companion to their work or studies. Here is Caleb’s post welcoming its publication:
A new piece of research has come out which looks to take the landmark Milgram experiments to the next level…
Despite the fact that most scientific skeptics do not find themselves formerly associated with a religion, this time of year tends to nonetheless bring out the giving spirit in many of us. Although Tom Flynn wouldn’t approve, many of us celebrate (in a secular fashion) Christmas, or Kwanza, or Festivus, or the Solstice, or Hanukkah, or just like to give presents because it’s fun.
Just World Theory is a core reason as to why theists believe in God. It is this desire for balance and fairness which is psychologically ingrained into us, no matter what ancillary beliefs we have. As a result, we see the world, the universe, as a thing which must be, on balance, fair.
There are many posts presently here at SIN written, or in the pipeline, on our series concerning moral panic, and nothing promotes moral panic quite as much as immigration. Immigration is a hot topic, particularly in the UK, where I live, but also within the wider context of Europe (and pretty much anywhere). There are literally boat loads of people from Africa and the eastern end of the Mediterranean who are hitting the shores of Italy and Spain in waves of thousand upon thousand. Often, the end destination is seen as the UK with its perceived soft touch welfare system.
Metaphysical thought processes are more deeply wired than hitherto suspected
WHILE MILITANT ATHEISTS like Richard Dawkins may be convinced God doesn’t exist, God, if he is around, may be amused to find that atheists might not exist.
Cognitive scientists are becoming increasingly aware that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought processes that it cannot be expunged.
Over at another post of mine, we have been discussing whether religion can and should be destroyed. During that conversation, the idea came up that Christians, in all probability, hold more ridiculous beliefs which are unscientific in nature; and also arose the connected idea that Christians, in a generalistic sense, are not as good at doing science, because they have a higher propensity to give up searching for answers.
When the scientific method is used badly, when preconceptions are allowed to dictate analyses and conclusions, then you get bad science, and false knowledge. Untruths. In this vein, the work of Dr Caleb Lack and Dr Charles Abramson is well worth looking in to.
This is really interesting, and whilst it doesn’t prove anything particularly in and of itself, it does hint at a connection between more ‘out there’ irrational beliefs and free will, which, in my opinion, is equally irrational.
This article is taken from the excellent podcast Reasonable Doubts which itself borrows from source material and commentary from Tom Rees’ superb…
Some fellow tippling philosophers and myself are having an email exchange about psychology. It started with one of us writing an email lauding Daniel Kahneman’s work Thinking Fast and Slow (the bold is where he is quoting someone else).
In reading Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works, which has been a slow burner (both in terms of time taken to read it and time taken to get into the really interesting stuff [Now long finished]), I have just started to read about the importance and ontology of emotions. I
Dr Caleb W. Lack, purveyor of the fine opinions and science over at Great Plains Skeptic here at SIN, already has two Onus Books publications:
Mood Disorders: An Introduction
Anxiety Disorders: An Introduction
These great little introductory texts illuminate the latest understandings on these conditions. Look out for one on OCD to come. Further to such contributions to the Onus Books portfolio, he is, with a fellow psychologist, producing a text called “Psychology Gone Astray: A Selection of Racist & Sexist Literature from Early Psychological Research”. Here is a post from his blog to describe the project. In reading the MS to edit it, I am finding much of interest in this early, pseudoscientific era of the discipline:
I am hoping to have Ed Babinski writing the foreword to Beyond an Absence of Faith, an anthology of deconversion accounts. In a private email, Ed wrote this gem:
…it’s sad that many people either avoid reading books based on views they oppose, or they read them and STILL manage to slough off all the questions raised. The mind is a marvelously creative artist when it comes to finding ways to maintain whatever worldview it acquires rather than juggling and shifting between different worldviews all day long, which takes too much mental energy.