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Religion and oil links

summarizes studies</a> relevant to right-wingers and religion.
* "It turns out that the less control people feel they have over their lives, the more likely they are to perceive images in random visual static; the more likely they are to see connections and conspiracies in unrelated events."
* "conservatives show stronger stress responses than liberals to "threatening" pictures of large spiders perched on human faces."
* "# Smart people tend to assume that everyone else is as smart as they are; they honestly can't understand why dumber people just don't "get it", because it doesn't occur to them that those people actually are dumb.
# Stupid people, in contrast, tend to not only regard themselves as smarter than everyone else, they tend to regard truly smart people as especially stupid. This holds true even when these people are shown empirical proof that they are less competent than those they deride."
* "it turns out that people are less likely to cheat on an assigned task if the lab tech lets slip that the ghost of a girl who was murdered in this very building was sighted down the hall the other day.

That's right. Plant the thought that some ghost might be watching you, and you become more trustworthy. Even sticking a picture of a pair of eyes on the wall reduces the incidence of cheating, even though no one would consciously mistake a drawing of eyes for the real thing. Merely planting the idea of surveillance seems to be enough to improve one's behavior."

* "Are religious people more likely than nonreligious ones to help out someone in distress? (Not so much.) What's the most common denominator tying together acts of charity by the religious? (Social optics. "Self-reported belief in God or self-reported religious devotion," the paper remarks wryly, "was not a reliable indicator of generous behavior in anonymous settings.") And why is it that religion seems especially prevalent in areas with chronic water and resource shortages?"

* "the feature that distinguishes right from left seems ever-clearer: fear. See the angry mobs at Republican rallies. Listen to the shouts of terrorist and socialist and kill him! whenever Obama's name is mentioned. And just tonight, when even John McCain seemed to realise that things had gone too far, and tried to describe the hated enemy as "a decent man"— he was roundly booed by his own supporters."

-- I note that in my own life, I know or know of at least a couple of atheist evolutionist Republican Bush supporters, plus "Democrat" Orson Scott Card. All are very fearful of the Other, or at least the Islamic Other (Card is pretty friendly to immigrants in general). Fear of terrorists is in fact a defining feature of an otherwise bizarre alliance. Though their language is more violent than superficially fearful. "Kill them! Kill them all!"

* Moving on, Daylight Atheism links to children dying due to Christian Science; a comment links to an abstract saying Christian Scientists have higher mortality than their cohorts.

* A study of the religious beliefs of evolutionary biologists; mostly non-existent. What's really cute is the ternary scale they asked biologists to place themselves on, with naturalism, theism, and deism as corners. Nice method, though the contrast in the image itself sucks: there's a second skewed triangle with the result bars, but it's faint.

* Not on religion: why oil wealth and democracy don't mix.

* Things I've possibly linked to before: "Why cosmologists are atheists, with a nice clear contrast of materialism (world as formal system evolving under fixed rules) and theism (that, plus an interventionist person-mind not subject to the physical rules.) C. S. Lewis had a similar stark contrast, though talking about matter that just is rather than formal systems. Also harks to the soul as little god, a mind not subject to physical rules that interferes so as to produce our consciousness. Though why it's vulnerable to alcohol is one of those problems for dualism... By the same author, the God conundrum largely on clashing monotheisms: Jewish personal "our god is biggest!" vs. Greek philosophical "unmoved mover"; how the latter made more sense in Aristotelian than Newtonian and post-Newtonian physics, where matter in endless motion is more natural; Psalm 82 (Yahweh talking at a council of gods); Eagleton trying to have it both ways on anthropomorphism, with God being necessary condition of existence, not anthropomorphic, but then having the property of love.

* My favorite single-winner voting system, range voting, has been re-branded as score voting in a quest for a more intuitive name. Much the way the "alternative vote" became "Instant Runoff" and a lot more popular, though no more effective.



Damien Sullivan

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