Friday, April 27, 2012

Analytical Thinking Causes Religions Beliefs To Waver?

{Don't miss our nomination period to nominate your most attractive physicists}

Not that this is surprising to me, but there appears to be a study that suggests that when people start thinking a bit more on certain things, ".... you reject statements that otherwise you would endorse... ", and this includes certain religious beliefs.

To test this idea, the duo devised several ways to subconsciously put people in what they considered a more analytical mindset. In one experiment with 57 undergraduate students, some volunteers viewed artwork depicting a reflective thinking pose (such as Rodin's The Thinker) while others viewed art depicting less intellectual pursuits (such as throwing a discus) before answering questionnaires about their faith. In another experiment with 93 undergraduates and a larger sample of 148 American adults recruited online, some subjects solved word puzzles that incorporated words such as "analyze," "reason," and "ponder," while others completed similar puzzles with only words unrelated to thinking, such as "high" and "plane." In all of these experiments, people who got the thinking-related cues reported weaker religious beliefs on the questionnaires taken afterward than did the control group.

In a final experiment, Gervais and Norenzayan asked 182 volunteers to answer a religious questionnaire as usual, while others answered the same questionnaire printed in a hard-to-read font, which previous studies have found promotes analytic thinking. And indeed, those who had to work harder to comprehend the questionnaire rated their religious beliefs lower.
I'm usually skeptical on whether such things can be studied, and if these statistics are reliable. The authors claim they are since many different studies and methodologies seem to indicate the same, consistent findings, which makes it a bit more believable.

Still, if this is true, then Science and Religion are truly at odds with each other, not just culturally, but rather at the FUNDAMENTAL level. It means that they are, in principle, incompatible with each other.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'm skeptical about this. It takes a very small sample of the population and tries to derive facts about everone.

Religion in that case is a broad thing. What religion? Is Agnosticism a religion?

What about non-religious people who just didn't think properly? Should they be differentiated by the type of non-religiosity? (Ha, I like the word!)

I took the test too - and I took it too casual, so I failed as well. Former catholic, atheist for 10 years now with tertiary education. (yeah, I suck)

(btw, your Captcha is really hard. And allowing Google login just to offer to open a blogspot account is just... well... Also, the preview function after signing up/loging in is totally borked. Just see