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  #1  
Old 04-12-2009, 03:50 PM
Bloggingheads Bloggingheads is offline
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Default Why We're Religious (Joshua Knobe & Jesse Bering)

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  #2  
Old 04-12-2009, 07:01 PM
uncle ebeneezer uncle ebeneezer is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Wow, only watched about half of it so far, but this is GREAT!! Fascinating discussion. And great job by Joshua asking all the right questions. Happy Easter/Passover/Equinox etc, everyone!!

I think when Bob's book finally comes out, a Bob/JK diavlog might be in order.
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  #3  
Old 04-12-2009, 08:56 PM
Eastwest Eastwest is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Such a refreshing change from the endless hashing and rehashing of "the economy" blah-blah and the never-ending war between paid-to-lie ideologues from opposing think-tank noise-machine camps.

Please: More of this and less of the same-old, same-old which tendeth otherwise to make BHTV seem really, really old to point of uninteresting.

Thanks to both. JK is one of my favorites, not just for his impish sense of humor and startling out-of-the-box questions, but also in his careful choice of DV partners. I wish he were more of a "regular."

Although I think some of the underpinning presumptions of evolutionary biologists & psychologists & philosophers are a bit suspect (as for instance with the inference that "secrecy" was impossible in ancient cultures and hence determinative for default psychological patterns manifest now), it's still fascinating to get a "pulse-reading" on some of the latest theorization and experimentation.

EW
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  #4  
Old 04-12-2009, 08:59 PM
dankingbooks dankingbooks is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

It's not all that hard to imagine non-life after death. All you have to do is think about life before birth. Where were you when Lincoln was assassinated? And no, you probably won't answer "all I remember is darkness, which means I wasn't born yet." Life after death is surely unknowable, but it can't be all that different than "life" before birth.

By the way, check out my book on another enduring human trait: prostitution. www.dankingbooks.com
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  #5  
Old 04-12-2009, 09:44 PM
CinemaRing CinemaRing is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

At the risk of being obvious, isn't promiscuous teleology in the young a reflection of their developmental situation? In other words, children see teleology in things because it is their job at that time to find the purpose of things.
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  #6  
Old 04-12-2009, 10:01 PM
CinemaRing CinemaRing is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

moreover, it's not the least bit surprising that we would find causality in natural events. That's how we developed science. The fact that we sometimes see causality where none exists does not imply that finding causality is maladaptive; rather, it simply shows there are mistakes made. Most events follow natural laws, after all. Gravity is a supernatural agent if you want to think of it that way. After all, we don't know the mechanism for acting at a distance (how does the sun "attract" the earth? anyone?)
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  #7  
Old 04-12-2009, 10:26 PM
radmul radmul is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Many of us do not think in terms of omens and portents. We do not all feel the need invent purpose. The new Atheism is pretty dull because, "there is no meaning" is an uninteresting truth but truth it is.
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  #8  
Old 04-12-2009, 11:04 PM
basman basman is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

I liked this exchange. It was interesting throughout. Both guys are smart and amiable.

One of my responses though was to fight some mild exasperation with my sense that Bering, such a smart guy, was overly complicating some understandable things. Why does it take experiments and a barrage of psychological language to understand that little kids cannot imagine life ending with death and would think even after the alligator eats the mouse, the mouse retains its mousiness? We cannot imagine extinction on death but we can understand it. Little kids aren’t there yet conceptually, being little kids.

They are not really incipient theists in any significant sense. That is much too grand. It is just not within them to understand or conceptualize non existence.

That same sense of exasperation, a tad less mild, also surfaced in Bering’s dismissal of the “new atheists”, saying that he found them a bore, and that they were missing the point. I can understand all that from the perspective of an experimental psychologist, but it sounds limited and narrow from a more general perspective.

This exchange convinced me that religiosity was an adaptive thing and we bear its traces, which manifest themselves in countless ways, which are, no doubt, good fodder for psychological investigation. But that’s one thing. The projects of consciousness to make moral and meaningful sense of our existence are another. If I may that other is somewhat more compelling than showing little kids pictures of mice eaten by alligators and then drawing certain inferences as typical of the experimental psychological enterprise.

The foundation of these projects ought to start with the non existence of God, I think. That and the oppressive amount of religious thinking and influence in North America make me think that the new atheists are entirely to the point and cannot make their point often or emphatic enough, for me in any event.

Still as I say this was an enjoyable exchange and stimulating too, and not without irony in me watching it on Easter Sunday.

Itzik Basman
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  #9  
Old 04-13-2009, 12:27 AM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Very interesting research presented in this diavlog.

One possible adaptive function for believing in an afterlife could be coping with the death of loved ones. The emphasis in the diavlog seemed to be on the function of afterlife for the individual, in addition to the described cognitive origin of the concept of afterlife itself.

It wasn't clear to me how they evaluated what is defined as "cultural residue" and how much weight it has in the kind of subtle phenomena they are studying.

I agree with other commenters that J. Knobe always brings very interesting topics to BHTV.
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  #10  
Old 04-13-2009, 12:56 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Quote:
One of my responses though was to fight some mild exasperation with my sense that Bering, such a smart guy, was overly complicating some understandable things.
I didn't feel that way. I think these experiments are on the cutting edge of understanding how hardwired we are for supernatural beliefs. The problem that Jesse discussed of getting at what people really believe (in spite of what they articulate) is quite interesting. Leave God out of it for a moment (or forever, if you like): If you ask most educated people if they believe in luck, they are likely to deny that they do and furthermore, they believe in their own denial. But it's very rare to actually meet someone who attributes all the events of her life to chance. People do have a sense of being lucky or unlucky. We all seem to hold magical beliefs. We all think we have some purpose (illustrated by Jesse's going to the bookstore and finding he was "meant" to read a certain book).

Quote:
That same sense of exasperation, a tad less mild, also surfaced in Bering’s dismissal of the “new atheists”, saying that he found them a bore, and that they were missing the point.
If you're already an atheist (as I am and as the two Blogging Heads are), the New Atheism is boring, and the New Atheists do miss "a" if not "the" point. The point for them seems to be to refute the more ridiculous claims of theism (including the belief in a God who hears prayers and intercedes in human affairs). They miss the point that you can't think yourself out of the supernatural anymore than you can think yourself out of moral values.

We are moral and religious beings. These are facts of our humanity. When Richard Dawkins says we don't have to believe all those silly things, he's arguably further mystifying human psychology, although his debunking of religion is true.
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  #11  
Old 04-13-2009, 01:12 AM
Baltimoron Baltimoron is offline
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Default Re: Why We're All Knobists!

I look forward to listening to this diavlog, but bhTV has really been less compelling without Knobe diavlogs. Please, Joshua, don't be a stranger - rescue us from rank punditry!
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  #12  
Old 04-13-2009, 02:13 AM
Tara Davis Tara Davis is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

To celebrate Easter, the highest of all Christian holidays, Bloggingheads.TV invites two atheists to ponder the question of what biological imperatives lead everybody (except people like them) into such obvious missteps of self-delusion.

Stay classy, BHTV!
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  #13  
Old 04-13-2009, 02:51 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tara Davis View Post
To celebrate Easter, the highest of all Christian holidays, Bloggingheads.TV invites two atheists to ponder the question of what biological imperatives lead everybody (except people like them) into such obvious missteps of self-delusion.

Stay classy, BHTV!
Given that BH.tv is described as a global media juggernaut, this does not seem inappropriate (visual aid).
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  #14  
Old 04-13-2009, 03:07 AM
basman basman is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

...They miss the point that you can't think yourself out of the supernatural anymore than you can think yourself out of moral values...

Why not?

Instinctive relapses to magical thinking, instances of superstition, all that kind of thing, don't mean that one can't approach the world as feeling, rational beings, who try mightily not to let occasional recourses to irrationality count for anything more than being ocasional recourses to irrationality.

...We are moral and religious beings. These are facts of our humanity. When Richard Dawkins says we don't have to believe all those silly things, he's arguably further mystifying human psychology, although his debunking of religion is true....

Speak for yourself. I am not a religious being and take a crack at trying to be a moral one. What to your mind would constitute my religion: that some times at moments of stress I wish for something supervening to intervene and resolve my problems, that sometimes I feel wonder at things? I don't know what "silly things" you think Dawkins says we don't have to believe, but I read his book and Harris's and they are right, right down the line, except for Harris at the end of his when he gets all Eastern and such.

I'd neeed you to be more concrete, as I asked, as to what counts for you as "religious".

Itzik Basman

Last edited by basman; 04-13-2009 at 10:58 AM..
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  #15  
Old 04-13-2009, 03:27 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Quote:
I'd neeed you to be more concrete, as I asked, as to what counts for you as "religious".
I would define religious as ascribing more meaning to the life of a person than to the life of a gnat or a microbe.

The feeling of "mattering" is a religious sentiment, i.e., based on intuitions of something vaguely supernatural, invisible and transcendent.

It seems to me that our brains are organized around this false belief of mattering. It's something we take on religious faith and something that is almost impossible to eradicate. If we didn't believe in mattering, we would collapse into nihilism or catatonia. You get up in the morning because you think it matters (although there is no evidence that it does, or could).

Of course, you can define religion more specifically. That might be useful in order to distinguish Christians from Scientologists or atheists. But again, I find that boring. It's not boring if you have a creed or want to debunk someone else's creed, but I haven't been interested in that since adolescence.
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  #16  
Old 04-13-2009, 06:27 AM
Eastwest Eastwest is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
I would define religious as ascribing more meaning to the life of a person than to the life of a gnat or a microbe.
Actually, that's not "religion" so much as just another form of species in-group self-cherishing.

On the contrary, from the standpoint of deeply reflective mystical gnosis one could just as easily make the case that genuine spirituality involves a realization of the inherently equal meaning between the life of a person and the life of a gnat or a microbe. (But don't expect this mind-state to arise as a genuinely constant spiritual experience outside of a life steeped in deep meditation.)

We're forever hearing about scientific ignorance and illiteracy among the drone-like masses of the religious. (Actually, I tend to concur that this is a huge problem.)

But we never hear too much about "metaphysical illiteracy" wherein seriously plausible evidence for reincarnation for instance is presented in a manner most difficult to definitively refute, but is nonetheless derisively "waved off" with no real attempt to explore the evidence, sometimes merely anecdotal, true, but sometimes replete with undismissable facts explainable in no other way. This is reflexively cast aside, not based on clear-eyed refutation, but, frankly, on the basis of out-and-out bias that one will not, under any circumstances, allow oneself to entertain the possibility that such a phenomenon could represent the facts of what transpires after death.

This is itself a form of intellectual laziness and ignorance and, frankly, dishonesty. For just one instance of a piece, which if read in an unbiased fashion, should give one serious cause for pause, see Tucker's Life Before Life
http://www.amazon.com/Life-Before-Sc...9612929&sr=1-1 His work is probably one of the most responsible treatments of the topic taken up and explored without bias and constantly referencing every possible counter-argument.

(The paperback edition is around $10 with free shipping. There's a Kindle edition as well.)

EW
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  #17  
Old 04-13-2009, 08:01 AM
Baltimoron Baltimoron is offline
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Quote:
They miss the point that you can't think yourself out of the supernatural anymore than you can think yourself out of moral values.
I think this is the kernel of your disagreement with Basman, and I would take your side - with caveats. I read one of Bering's articles, viewing religion through the lens of Sartre's No Exit. I wouldn't call it "moral", so much as a predicament of human social adaptability that has evolved over generations. I say "predicament" because I couldn't help but compare Bering's discussion with Taleb's discussion of how the narrative fallacy is hardwired in The Black Swan. I think the New Atheists are a bit simple too, but because I think there is a mismatch between how religiosity works in the brain and the current state of human technological and social development.
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  #18  
Old 04-13-2009, 08:33 AM
Bloggin' Noggin Bloggin' Noggin is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Why is Jesse's sister's offense on behalf of her mother supposedly irrational on "extinctivist" assumptions? The assumption Jesse pretty explicitly makes is that the only harms to a person are those he is conscious of. But this is an assumption that goes considerably beyond the mere belief that we don't persist after death. It implies, for instance, that it would be equally irrational to be offended on behalf of Jesse's mother to say bad things about her when you were sure those bad things would never get back to her -- even if she was alive. It implies that well-concealed breaking of marriage vows is no harm; that Truman (in _The Truman Show_) is in no way harmed by the manipulation of the TV producers who script his life, so long as he never finds out about the whole plot.
Jesse's assumption of hedonism (all goods and evils reduce to pleasures and pains) is something he might think defensible, but it certainly is not equivalent to the mere claim that we don't exist after death. Jesse might want to read Nozick's Experience Machine thought experiment.
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  #19  
Old 04-13-2009, 08:57 AM
Bloggin' Noggin Bloggin' Noggin is offline
 
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Jesse uses much too broad a brush in dismissing the notion of "meaning" in life. Clearly, one who doesn't believe in God or Geist can't believe that he was literally "put on this earth to do X". But that doesn't clearly invalidate people's desire to have a meaningful life -- where a meaningful life is like a meaningful story (or meaningful work of art in general, but lives are most like stories in evolving over time). People want their lives, as seen from outside (and looking backwards from the end or near the end) to convey a certain authorial intention -- they want their lives to make sense as a story, not to look like just one damn thing after another.
No one put us on this earth to show people that there is no God, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to want people to look at your life and see you as finding your calling and adapting the givens of your life to that calling. Even some errors or misfortunes can be made to look like strokes of genius by the end -- the way an artist may incorporate some of his mistakes rather than trying to correct them.
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Old 04-13-2009, 09:05 AM
Bloggin' Noggin Bloggin' Noggin is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Oh yeah, one more point. As far as I'm aware, the earliest religions either had no afterlife or imagined the afterlife rather the way "extinctivists" imagine being dead in a box -- it was kind of like a dreary eternal waiting room. There was no punishment for sins in life.
The speculations on the evolutionary functions of religion REALLY OUGHT to come to grips with some basic historical facts at least!!!

It seems far more rational to see hope-and-justice afterlives, like Christianity and Islam as CULTURAL adaptations to the world of big empires or big cities -- or the cultural materials that account for the survival and spread of certain cultures rather than others.

The spread of Islamic culture is supposed to have made it much easier to trade and even send letters of credit across great distances, because people trusted each others oaths.
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  #21  
Old 04-13-2009, 09:52 AM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tara Davis View Post
To celebrate Easter, the highest of all Christian holidays, Bloggingheads.TV invites two atheists to ponder the question of what biological imperatives lead everybody (except people like them) into such obvious missteps of self-delusion.

Stay classy, BHTV!
It seems a perfect time. Are you claiming that it's effrontery to engage on non-Christian ideas at times that Christians deem to be special? Does Christianity hold some special status that atheism lacks, such that a discussion of atheism on a Christian holiday is inappropriate, insulting to true believers? Should we hold off on atheist conversations on Christmas day, as well as during Passover, Ramadan, and Diwali?

What about Aleister Crowley's birthday?

Update: and to be clear, this really isn't explicitly an "atheist" discussion, is it? It's just an elaboration of the cognitive science underlying religious feelings - something which really ought to be viewed neutrally.
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Last edited by AemJeff; 04-13-2009 at 04:10 PM.. Reason: mispelled word
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  #22  
Old 04-13-2009, 10:42 AM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Quote:
Originally Posted by basman View Post
...

One of my responses though was to fight some mild exasperation with my sense that Bering, such a smart guy, was overly complicating some understandable things. Why does it take experiments and a barrage of psychological language to understand that little kids cannot imagine life ending with death and would think even after the alligator eats the mouse, the mouse retains its mousiness? We cannot imagine extinction on death but we can understand it. Little kids aren’t there yet conceptually, being little kids.
...
There's a difference, wouldn't you say, between bringing intuitive assumptions - however seemingly self-evident - into a study like this; and, attempting to build an empirical model of as much of the foundation of the ideas being studied as possible?
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  #23  
Old 04-13-2009, 11:26 AM
basman basman is offline
 
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All of you are making very good points.

But I sense an abiding flaw in your arguments that I want to try and get at.

I am a materialist. My materialism seems in tension with my consciousness, which seems to me intangible and ethereal and with my feelings, experiences of beauty, wonder, my intuitions, creativity and so on, which also, some of them, seem intangible and ethereal.

But what I want to say is that my consciousness and the rest are not reducible to what they arise from. So fellow feeling, say, may be part of what constitutes me as an adapative thing--that latter being a materialist proposition. But making moral meaning out of the prompts to me of fellow feeling is a separate and difficult excercise, as are its applications in ethics, which all seek in reason and wisdom to develop themselves coherently. Those projects as such are conceptually separable from the instincts which give rise to them: hence moral philosophy and ethics as a branch of it.

The new atheists no less than anyone else experience what you want to call religious feeling, but they separate those feelings from the super structures they give rise to; they experience awe, joy and wonder, as do we all, and try to make phenomenal and philosophic sense out of the world but, key, rejecting faith and supersitition--believing in what we cannot know.

If you want to call those efforts and experiences religious, then is our disagreement merely semantic?

If the new atheists are no less spiritual than anyone else, then what is the point they do not get as they insist, as does cognitive science, on understanding the world on models of reason and science, and, as I say, key, rejecting faith and superstition?

What don't they get that Jesse Bering gets?

Itzik Basman

Last edited by basman; 04-13-2009 at 02:02 PM.. Reason: grammar
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  #24  
Old 04-13-2009, 01:51 PM
basman basman is offline
 
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...There's a difference, wouldn't you say, between bringing intuitive assumptions - however seemingly self-evident - into a study like this; and, attempting to build an empirical model of as much of the foundation of the ideas being studied as possible?...


There sure is.

But what separates valuable experimental activity from the trivial investigation of the self evident in the name of experimental psychology?

I don’t need, I don’t think, a controlled experiment to understand that little kids can’t conceptualize non-being and to understand the reason why they can’t. It's no big mystery to me why we sometimes speak of the dead as if they were alive even when we know they are dead, as did Jesse Bering's sister in "feeling bad" for her deceased mother.

How many of such experiments represented by the kinds of illustrations unfolded by Jesse Bering are there leading to how many publications in how many journals contributing what exactly to what we understand of the world?

Science, I’m all for it, a hundred per cent, passionately--it's like a religion to me; the investigation of the obvious and clothing it all in heavy language and so on, I have my doubts about.

Itzik Basman
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Old 04-13-2009, 02:29 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Quote:
Originally Posted by basman View Post
...There's a difference, wouldn't you say, between bringing intuitive assumptions - however seemingly self-evident - into a study like this; and, attempting to build an empirical model of as much of the foundation of the ideas being studied as possible?...


There sure is.

But what separates valuable experimental activity from the trivial investigation of the self evident in the name of experimental psychology?

I don’t need, I don’t think, a controlled experiment to understand that little kids can’t conceptualize non-being and to understand the reason why they can’t. It's no big mystery to me why we sometimes speak of the dead as if they were alive even when we know they are dead, as did Jesse Bering's sister in "feeling bad" for her deceased mother.

How many of such experiments represented by the kinds of illustrations unfolded by Jesse Bering are there leading to how many publications in how many journals contributing what exactly to what we understand of the world?

Science, I’m all for it, a hundred per cent, passionately--it's like a religion to me; the investigation of the obvious and clothing it all in heavy language and so on, I have my doubts about.

Itzik Basman
I think, as a matter of protocol, people in the field have strong motivation to make as few assumptions as possible. There's a limit to how far that goes, of course, and there's a real discussion to had in the attempt to define the limits. I feel pretty strongly that the sort of question we're discussing in this instance ought not be assigned a default answer, when it's relatively easy just to construct a test. I also suspect that if it wasn't explicitly asked, that that would be seen as a flaw by almost anyone else in the field.

None of that really goes to whether experimental psychology has any inherent value, but I think that's another question.
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Old 04-13-2009, 03:58 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Quote:
I wouldn't call it "moral", so much as a predicament of human social adaptability that has evolved over generations. I say "predicament" because I couldn't help but compare Bering's discussion with Taleb's discussion of how the narrative fallacy is hardwired in The Black Swan.
Yes, that's also part of it.

Interwoven among human brain adaptations that foster irrational assumptions about the world are: religious sentiment (creator, afterlife beliefs), superstition, morality, narrative structuring (with protagonists/antagonists and heroes on quests), archetypes (Jung was on the right track with this, though he overdid it), etc.

It would take a test like Jesse's, for example, to tease out Richard Dawkins' belief that he is on a meaningful quest in life. I think the zeal with which he pursues his causes betray this sentiment, but I'm open to being proven wrong. Is a quest belief "religious"? Yes.
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  #27  
Old 04-13-2009, 04:06 PM
uncle ebeneezer uncle ebeneezer is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

Yeah, these sort of comments like Tara's, remind me why I'm so happy to be an instinctivist (love that expression.) Bloggingheads puts two extremely smart and respectful guys on to talk about what is to me THE big question of all time (even bigger than if there is a God); do people innately believe in God and why? But because the diavlog airs on a day that some people consider sacred, they take offense. It's only through the lens of a mind distorted by religious kool-aid, that one could even conceive of how this diavlog was in any way offensive. But since Christians have been the majority in this country for so long, we the non-believers are supposed to walk around on egg-shells lest we step on a topic that offends them, on the day that they choose to celebrate their preferred myth of re-birth (and I know it's blasphemy to point out how strikingly similar resurrection stories are considered as myth if they come from other, more primitive religions, but calling the Xtian resurrection account a myth with doubtless get a much stronger reaction.)

But the point is, this diavlog was a fascinating discussion and nothing more. If Sam Harris and Chris Hitchens spent an hour railing on the idiocy of religion, I think greater sensitivity and criticism of the choice to air it, would be reasonable (though I would still basically respond "tough shit.") But this diavlog was not at all demeaning to believers and even went a good way to highlighting some empirical evidence that I would think they would welcome.

In other words, listen to your boy. Turn the other cheek, forgive, let it go. Don't watch a discussion of two secular scientists on a day that is sacred to you, if that's your concern. But remember, the rest of us are under no such constraints. Yesterday was 1 of 365 days and nothing more, to many of us. And we are just as entitled to a good diavlog on that day as much as any other.
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  #28  
Old 04-13-2009, 04:06 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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From the Wikipedia entry on "animism," which has been found to be universal and characteristic of the earliest (most "primitive") religions:

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Most animistic belief systems hold that the spirit survives physical death. In some systems, the spirit is believed to pass to an easier world of abundant game or ever-ripe crops, while in other systems, the spirit remains on earth as a ghost, often malignant. Still other systems combine these two beliefs, holding that the soul must journey to the spirit world without becoming lost and thus wandering as a ghost (e.g., the Navajo religion). Funeral, mourning rituals, and ancestor worship performed by those surviving the deceased are often considered necessary for the successful completion of this journey.

From the belief in the survival of the dead arose the practice of offering food, lighting fires, etc., at the grave, at first, maybe, as an act of friendship or filial piety, later as an act of ancestor worship. The simple offering of food or shedding of blood at the grave develops into an elaborate system of sacrifice. Even where ancestor worship is not found, the desire to provide the dead with comforts in the future life may lead to the sacrifice of wives, slaves, animals, and so on, to the breaking or burning of objects at the grave or to the provision of the ferryman's toll: a coin put in the mouth of the corpse to pay the traveling expenses of the soul.
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  #29  
Old 04-13-2009, 04:11 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

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Why is Jesse's sister's offense on behalf of her mother supposedly irrational on "extinctivist" assumptions? The assumption Jesse pretty explicitly makes is that the only harms to a person are those he is conscious of. But this is an assumption that goes considerably beyond the mere belief that we don't persist after death.
I think you're making too much of this. I thought that all Jesse meant to convey was his observation that offending the dead mother struck a primitive chord in the sister, AS IF she could hear it. His other example was feeling a little bad because he hadn't visited the mom's gravesite, AS IF it had magical powers as a sacred place.

Of course, he could have other reasons for feeling bad about not visiting. He could be worried that his relatives would scorn him as a bad son or he could feel loyal to a tribal tradition which required visits. But that's not what he found (apparently) when examining his subjective feelings. He found magic.
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Old 04-13-2009, 05:08 PM
popcorn_karate popcorn_karate is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

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Originally Posted by basman View Post
?
I am not a religious being
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Science, I’m all for it, a hundred per cent, passionately--it's like a religion to me
thank you. That sums up my experience with the "new atheists".
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Old 04-13-2009, 05:12 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Originally Posted by popcorn_karate View Post
thank you. That sums up my experience with the "new atheists".
It is incorrect for you to pick out one person, particularly some random coment from some random commenter on the Internet, as representative of the so-called New Atheists.

On the other hand, you did say that "sums up [your] experience," so maybe it's just the case that you've had very little exposure.
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Old 04-13-2009, 05:30 PM
popcorn_karate popcorn_karate is offline
 
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yes, that post was mostly bait for you ; )

I really couldn't help myself after the discussions we've had on this topic. and honestly, with the shoe on the other foot, i really doubt you could have resisted an opening like that either.
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Old 04-13-2009, 05:39 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Originally Posted by popcorn_karate View Post
yes, that post was mostly bait for you ; )

I really couldn't help myself after the discussions we've had on this topic. and honestly, with the shoe on the other foot, i really doubt you could have resisted an opening like that either.
I do like to snicker at such glaring contradictions. That much is true.
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Old 04-13-2009, 06:44 PM
basman basman is offline
 
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Originally Posted by popcorn_karate View Post
thank you. That sums up my experience with the "new atheists".
Oh, for God's sake, I was kidding when I said it's like a religion to me.

Uhm, I'm kidding too when I say, Oh for God's sake.

Itzik Basman
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  #35  
Old 04-13-2009, 07:30 PM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Oh yeah, one more point. As far as I'm aware, the earliest religions either had no afterlife or imagined the afterlife rather the way "extinctivists" imagine being dead in a box -- it was kind of like a dreary eternal waiting room. There was no punishment for sins in life.
The speculations on the evolutionary functions of religion REALLY OUGHT to come to grips with some basic historical facts at least!!!
Hi BN. I recently read Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse, and while I don't have time to dig up the data from those books, I'm pretty sure Jared Diamond makes several mentions of Stone Age burial rituals suggestive of belief in an afterlife. Wikipedia confirms this in a quick glace at Middle Paleolithic. So there seems to be evidence that a belief in an afterlife 100,000+ years ago is at least a strong possibility. 100,000K years is certainly time enough for evolutionary processes to work. There is nothing I am aware of to indicate that the historical facts are in contradiction to the possibility of religion having evolutionary origins. And I'm not sure how anyone could determine that the afterlife that Paloelithic Man envisioned was of being dead in a box. I'm no expert, of course, so any data you have to have to support the development of the concept of the afterlife (as opposed to the elaboration of details regarding that afterlife, which seems to be a continual activity) within the past 10,000 or so years would, of course, be welcome. I am happy to change my opinions in the face of facts that prove them wrong.
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Old 04-13-2009, 07:34 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Originally Posted by basman View Post
Oh, for God's sake, I was kidding when I said it's like a religion to me.

Uhm, I'm kidding too when I say, Oh for God's sake.

Itzik Basman
Emoticons, Itzik, use emoticons!
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Old 04-13-2009, 07:35 PM
uncle ebeneezer uncle ebeneezer is offline
 
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Default Re: Why We're Religious

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I am happy to change my opinions in the face of facts that prove them wrong.
You must not be religious ;-)
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  #38  
Old 04-13-2009, 07:54 PM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Default Magical Thinking

I don't dispute that there is probably a disconnnect between what people say they don't believe and what their behavior seems to indicate. However, I think it important to not find evidence of this too easily. I feel bad for Jesse's Mom, too, and I don't even know her. But I feel bad for her because she was clearly married to someone who didn't love her as much as she probably thought or as much as she probably deserved, and that has implications for how happy or unhappy her life must have been. It is perfectly rational to feel sorry for someone because of unhappiness they may have experienced when they were alive without thinking that they are somehow still capable of experiencing that unhappiness now. One need only read details of the horrors of war to feel bad for people who are no longer alive. But this in no way means we somehow think they are still tormented by that experience.
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Old 04-13-2009, 08:22 PM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer View Post
You must not be religious ;-)
HA! Very clever! I'm not. Even as a child I just could not buy the inconsistencies and robotic nature of worship (I grew up Episcopalian, which is very robotic). I mean, come one, if people in church really believed what they were chanting wouldn't they have felt it important that I recite the ACTUAL words of the Lord's Prayer and not say, "Our Father who art in Heaven Howard be thy name". I had half the words of every creed we recited wrong and was constantly baffled (everyone recited from memory then, so I had no book to look at). You can't tell someone to fervently believe everything they are hearing and saying in church when it all sounds like nonsense and then have them find out one day that God's name is not Howard. I realized I had wasted of years of my life (ages 6-10, say)professing to believe nonsense and no-one seemed to have even noticed. That just killed it for me - made me realize that I was surrounded by people who were able to turn off their brains and accept things without question in a way that I just could not. Its kind of scary, actually, to think of how many people can do that. Some of them may still believe God's name is Howard.
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Old 04-13-2009, 08:43 PM
basman basman is offline
 
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Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
Emoticons, Itzik, use emoticons!
I will I guess from hereon in.

But slightly more seriously: quick question: why would it be a "glaring contradiction" for a new atheist type to say in a figurative sort of sense that science was *like* a religion to him or her. If the atheist wasn't making holy pilgrimages to the lab, wasn't about to burn his grad students in sacrifice, was not literally intoning prayers, but just meant to suggest that he or she put a tremendous amount of stock in science and felt kind of reverential toward it, as in revered it as a magnificent enterprise of the mind, what's the big megillah that in its incoherence brings down the whole new atheist house of cards?

I'm not seeing that.

Itzik Basman
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