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Fri Apr 27, 2012, 10:22 PM

Thinking can undermine religious faith, study finds

Those who think more analytically are less inclined to be religious believers than are those who tend to follow a gut instinct, researchers conclude.

Scientists have revealed one of the reasons why some folks are less religious than others: They think more analytically, rather than going with their gut. And thinking analytically can cause religious belief to wane for skeptics and true believers alike.

The study, published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, indicates that belief may be a more malleable feature of the human psyche than those of strong faith may think.

The cognitive origins of belief and disbelief traditionally haven't been explored with academic rigor, said lead author Will Gervais, a social psychologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-religion-analytical-thinking-20120427,0,5374010.story?track=icymi

Ran across this by accident, but it's something I've long struggled to understand, so I thought others might be interested, too.

8 replies, 1778 views

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Reply Thinking can undermine religious faith, study finds (Original post)
Rhiannon12866 Apr 2012 OP
Warpy Apr 2012 #1
Rhiannon12866 Apr 2012 #2
RainDog Apr 2012 #3
Cooley Hurd Apr 2012 #4
Bolo Boffin Apr 2012 #5
oilpro2 Apr 2012 #6
Viva_Daddy May 2012 #7
Starboard Tack May 2012 #8

Response to Rhiannon12866 (Original post)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 10:28 PM

1. I'm glad they're finally studying this stuff

because belief is unshakable by facts, direct observation, or anything else short of total catastrophe. Once we figure out how to do it effectively, maybe we can start deprogramming the 25% of the population who have been totally buffaloed by Pox News and/or televangelists into believing utter codswallop.

No, I'm not talking about the religious stuff. I'm talking about the Obama is a socialist and Democrats are commies and all Muslims are terrorists stuff.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 11:31 PM

2. That's another excellent point.

My mother, who has a very high IQ, voted for George Bush* because she's a Republican. I tried to convince her that there wasn't really much that she agreed with Bush* on, but she continued to be a supporter. She actually liked Obama until she found out he was a Democrat. *sigh* Of course, it doesn't help that she watches FIXED News...

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Response to Rhiannon12866 (Original post)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 01:03 AM

3. k&r n/t

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Response to Rhiannon12866 (Original post)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 04:11 AM

4. KIck and rec and agreed!

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Response to Rhiannon12866 (Original post)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 07:16 AM

5. I think the reporting about this is all screwed up.

I'm reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman right now. It's all about this type of research, something Kahneman has been studying all his life.

I'm sure the LA Times article is oversimplifying the actual study in Science, but from the abstract I found there, I just don't understand what new ground the study's authors are breaking. The kind of things I see them reporting are all through the first few pages of the book I'm reading, based on studies that have been done already.

The bottom line is, sure, you can push people one direction or another in how they will rank their strength of belief by priming or cognitively stressing them. But catch those same people without the priming or stress, or even with positive priming, and they will go the other way as well. I don't think the actual study goes as far as what the LA Times article is saying at all, though.

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Response to Bolo Boffin (Reply #5)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 01:47 PM

6. More inclined to agree with you on this.

 

But I find the description of the experiment to show that this "study", itself, is really a poor construct for the hypothesis.

Self-scoring mechanisms in tests like this are notoriously unreliable for statistically significant results, given the wide array of un-measured variables that could have come into play during the testing and self-scoring examinations.

Although I fully agree with the premise that PROBABLY people who engage in more logical thinking will tend to avoid reliance upon faith and intuition in problem-solving, I'm not sure this specific set of tests has much to offer in proof.

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Response to Rhiannon12866 (Original post)

Thu May 3, 2012, 03:05 PM

7. Any time you "conclude" anything (through faith or reason), you tend to stop thinking about it.

All "conclusions" must be tentative and open to differing viewpoints. Once you "make up your mind", the mind tends to be closed to new (and especially contradictory) information. What I like to call "pre-mature certainty" is the bane of both religion and science.

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Response to Viva_Daddy (Reply #7)

Thu May 3, 2012, 03:24 PM

8. +1. Certainty is definitely growth stunting.

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