All posts tagged psychology

Believing what you want

The Pew Research Center recently released an interesting report about identity, beliefs, and culture among US Catholics. Roman Catholicism is striking in its combination of (1) a large amount of doctrine and dogma specifying proper behavior and beliefs, (2) a very centralized hierarchy responsible for maintaining that doctrine, and (3) a large number of believers […]

Is it a religion or a cult?

I’ve seen this image in a few places, and I found it so elegant I just had to post it here. I’m not sure it’s 100% true; certainly people can be honestly mistaken about what they might have witnessed, and can also get caught up in the excitement of a crowd. We see this in […]

What are gross-out tactics for?

When I got home yesterday, I found this palm-sized tract wedged against my doorjamb. It’s grotesque. This image to the right is the cover — you can click on the picture to read the text for yourself online. It doesn’t say anything particularly new or insightful, just the usual statements of Christian doctrine and Bible […]

Help a student researcher

Lorri Macklin is a psychology student at the University of Derby, and she’s looking for volunteers to take part in a survey for her undergraduate thesis research. She’s investigating the relationship between religiosity and critical thinking skills. The questionnaire is short and confidential, and both theists and atheists are needed and welcome to participate. If […]

Well, here’s a great development

Sigh: According to the Vancouver Sun, University of British Columbia researchers conducted a total of six experiments on 350 Americans and 420 UBC students, of varying religions (67% of the Americans were Christian). In one experiment, they presented participants with the story of an “archetypal freerider” who cheats and steals a lot, and asked what […]

Confirmation bias, in a nutshell

Via STFU, Believers: If you believe prayer is worthwhile — please tell us, which is it? Do you get things because you pray for them, meaning that we can check to see if your god is real by seeing if believers always get what they pray for? Or does your god already have a perfect […]

Your permanent record

Do you remember how, in grade school, your teachers would threaten you with “a mark on your permanent record” if you misbehaved? Permanent was such a scary word. It meant forever, didn’t it? And that’s a long time. Of course, later we found out that our high schools knew next to nothing about our elementary […]

Friday Link Roundup #40

Oxford researchers investigate likely innate human tendencies to believe in gods and the supernatural. Prompted by Israeli President Shimon Peres’ suggestion for an 11th commandment (bumping up the next 603, I suppose), Alex Tabbarok asked his readers for their suggestions. How could it be this easy to improve on the work of a perfect god? […]

Why we argue vs. why we should

Cognitive biases are difficult, some might even say impossible, to conquer. The best that most of us can do is to attempt to remain conscious of them in order to be able to reject irrational assumptions and find the truth. Now, there may be a twist. The NYT reported on “the argumentative theory of reasoning” […]

The wisdom of the crowd?

I’m sure I often sound hypocritical when I talk about my perspective on scientific inquiry and my skepticism of religion. On the one hand, I believe that something is more likely to be true when the consensus among people points to that fact — for example, when many different people have performed an experiment and […]