Author Topic: The Religious Brain: A Default Setting?  (Read 721 times)

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Offline Graybeard

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The Religious Brain: A Default Setting?
« on: October 25, 2012, 09:56:44 AM »
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...Now there's new research on this front--and once again, it's bad news for those who hope that we'll someday elevate ourselves into an Enlightenment state where critical thinking becomes a default tendency. In a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, a team of scientists at Boston University find that even professional physicists are susceptible to one of the key mental defaults associated with religion--namely, teleological or purpose-oriented thinking.
Read more at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-politics/201210/the-religious-brain-default-setting.

I suppose, all that it is saying is "I will stop thinking about it now, because it's easier than working everything out." - this echoes a quote from a Christian, "I believe in God because it's easy."

It is true that you don't have to know how a radio works to recognise a radio or enjoy a broadcast, but "It works by waves" is not too far removed from "I turn it on" and both are ultimately inaccurate.

I don't suppose that this whole line of thought is much removed from saying that our default setting is to be well-fed, warm, fit, sitting down and having a chance of breeding - yet we do more than that, because we may have to think beyond that default to achieve the goal.

It seems therefore that the default setting has to be overcome for mankind to progress. Once we are taught that "Trees do not make oxygen for animals to breathe but because it is a byproduct of photosynthesis.", we understand more. Fortunately, there is an incentive for some to think a little further.

However, I am afraid the problem may run deeper; even if some religions die because of various reasons, people simply replace them. E.g. they replace Christianity with horoscopes, numerology or homeopathy.

We're wired to take the easy road when trying to explain things and getting people to switch to critical thinking instead is a challenge.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline kindred

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Re: The Religious Brain: A Default Setting?
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2012, 10:33:31 AM »
You need to incentivize good behaviors and punish bad ones. The current setup is bad. All throughout the world, people are not given money, fame or recognition based on merit but rather by social factors.

Why bother learning chemistry or a science when you can just use social factors to get what you want faster and for less effort? Let the people stupid enough to follow their passion for science and learning waste their time doing that. You are far better off taking advantage of them via using social pressure, marketing or other routes that require far less effort.

See what I'm getting at. People aren't actively trying to be stupid here. There is just more reward for doing things less smart.

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Offline Nick

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Re: The Religious Brain: A Default Setting?
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2012, 10:34:27 AM »
I did not know scientists could see something that small. ;)
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Offline Garja

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Re: The Religious Brain: A Default Setting?
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2012, 10:36:20 AM »
At least I'm certain that this story will NEVER be used as a "proof" of gods existence 
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

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Online Nam

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Re: The Religious Brain: A Default Setting?
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2012, 11:23:50 AM »
People are naturally lazy. Critical thinking is hard work, thinking like an idiot is smooth sailing.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline kindred

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Re: The Religious Brain: A Default Setting?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2012, 11:51:19 PM »
Forgive me for my previous off topic post. I just felt the need to defend humans. I am human and by association, something that damns humans damns me. I just couldn't resist trying to defend the image of humans everywhere.
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Online ParkingPlaces

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Re: The Religious Brain: A Default Setting?
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2012, 12:03:36 AM »
It would not surprise me if there is indeed a genetic component to thinking processes conducive to religious belief.

Thank the lord I don't have that  ;D

The brain is so frickin' complex that we probably can't point to just one thing and say "See, that's why x is y". We certainly won't have any useful understanding of how the brain works in my lifetime. Hence I am a little tiny bit afraid to read articles like this and say "Oh, now I understand."

However, knowing that I have absolutely no capacity to move to Believerville and stay there, and I'm not being particularly smart either, it is apparent to me that there is some reason or reasons I am unable to fall for the religious story. And I guess it make sense that my brain just isn't wired right to be that gullible.

On the bad side, there could be a god that I'm not able to comprehend because of my mental shortcomings.

I repeat:  ;D
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Offline screwtape

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Re: The Religious Brain: A Default Setting?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2012, 08:45:16 AM »
How do I quit the human species?  Seriously.  We are about as "advanced" as a troop of babboons with cell phones, internet and machine guns. And I want out.

Homo sapien is totally screwed. The sooner it vanishes, the better it will be for the rest of the species on the planet.
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: The Religious Brain: A Default Setting?
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2012, 01:54:15 PM »
Unfortunately, people, societies, intelligence, like everything else, tend to regress towards the mean. http://explorable.com/regression-to-the-mean.html
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Garja

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Re: The Religious Brain: A Default Setting?
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2012, 07:09:16 PM »
How do I quit the human species?  Seriously.  We are about as "advanced" as a troop of babboons with cell phones, internet and machine guns. And I want out.

Homo sapien is totally screwed. The sooner it vanishes, the better it will be for the rest of the species on the planet.

Well, aren't you just a ray of fucking sunshine today?!?!  ;)
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin