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Re: [evol-psych] Science of Religion: Final Comments

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  • Wade Allsopp
    ... I don t find it very mysterious at all. Religious beliefs may indeed not be scientific, but they usually involve claims about the world and how it works
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 1 4:12 AM
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      mcmir@... wrote:

      > It's a mystery to me as to why people continue to treat religion as a
      > field that is parallel to physics, psychology or even sociology. The
      > beliefs themselves have nothing to do with science and as such should
      > not be evaluated based on their veracituy, but rather, on what impact
      > having those beliefs has on the believer.

      I don't find it very mysterious at all. Religious beliefs may indeed
      not be scientific, but they usually involve claims about the world and
      how it works which are factual claims (such as "praying works" or "water
      can be turned into wine") as well as putting forward some philosophical
      world views. Over the centuries as science has pushed forward our
      understanding of the universe and philosophy has begun to sort out many
      conceptual muddles, the claims made by religions have come to look more
      and more implausible and indeed self contradictory particularly to those
      with a good training in science or western philosophy.

      Of course a minority of scientists and (I would conjecture) I much
      smaller minority of western philosophers still have some sort or
      religious belief and that indeed is an interesting phenomenon. My
      casual observation is that most of these people are from "cultural
      identity" faiths such as Judaism or have pretty watered down and vague
      "spiritual" religious views. I would be interested if anyone knows of
      any empirical reseach in this area. What seems to be the case is that
      some people are able to compartmentalise their religious beliefs and not
      subject them to the kind of critical thinking and evidence based
      scrutiny that they subject their other beliefs to. I agree that it is
      an open question whether or not this is a good and/or healthy thing for
      themsleves or indeed society.

      Wade Allsopp
      London
    • steve reiss
      Phil, I think this is the central issue in psychology -- how many intrinsic (end, fundamental) motives are there. I have a forthcoming paper, Multifaceted
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 1 11:09 AM
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        Phil,

        I think this is the central issue in psychology -- how
        many "intrinsic" (end, fundamental) motives are there.
        I have a forthcoming paper, "Multifaceted nature of
        intrinsic motivation: The theory of 16 basic desires,"
        that addresses this issue comprehensively and explains
        why I do not reduce the 16 desires to a few basic
        categories. The 16 basic desires predict with unusual
        accuracy how people will behave and, especially,
        interact and relate to each other. A recent, exciting
        application is the use of the Reiss Profile by Mainz
        professional soccer team in Germany. The Profile
        helped the coach interact effectively with his each
        player on his team, which won its divisional title and
        moved into the German highest league, with the coach
        swearing by the accuracy of the Profile. The Profile
        (16 basic desires) predicted who has a propensity to
        make a penalty in the heat of battle, who would jump
        to another team at the first offer of a better salary,
        who would take unnecessary risk under pressure, who
        would "choke" under pressure, who might be a good
        leader, and that the creation of a day care center at
        the ballpark would go a long way to building team
        morale (it did.) If we reduced the 16 basic desires
        to three categories, we would lose this detail of
        predictive power, especially for human interactions.
        If you think you can address these questions, I
        encourage you to go ahead and develop your ideas. The
        purpose of a theory is to encourage people to study
        important issues, not to put down absolute truths, and
        we welcome constructive criticism from people who have
        looked at the theory. Although my own viewpoint is
        that we should not reduce the desires to a few
        categories, thoughtful debate on this issue is needed,
        because as I argue in my forthcoming paper, this is
        the central issue for motivation theory and, thus,
        predicting human behavior, because nearly human
        behavior is an expression of deeply help values, and
        motives and values are closely connected phenomena.

        Steven


        --- "Phil Roberts, Jr." <philrob@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > steve reiss wrote:
        >
        > >> David Winslow Sr. wrote, "I read over your zygon
        > >> paper. It seems an interesting set of ideas to
        > me. A
        > >> useful model perhaps, but I was disappointed by
        > all
        > >> the assertions of a subjective and unverifiable
        > >> nature. The theory refers to 16 basic desires,
        > which
        > >> for me begs the questions of why not 17, or could
        > not
        > >> all the desires be learned subdivisions of just a
        > few
        > >>desires."
        > >>
        >
        >
        > > 1. In my paper I point out that the 16 basic
        > desires
        > > were derived empirically through a series of
        > factor
        > > analysis. There were four exploratory factor
        > > analysis, four separate confirmatory factor
        > analysis
        > > with independent samples from two countries, and
        > two
        > > scales (self-report and ratings by others.)
        > > Subsequently, each of the factors was separately
        > > validated against behavior. These validations are
        > now
        > > mostly peer reviewed and working their way into
        > the
        > > literature. This is not "subjective." Many people
        > who
        > > have worked with the Reiss Profile measurement,
        > > moreover, believe it is by far the most accurate
        > > personality test they have seen.
        > >
        >
        > In an earlier post I suggested that your 16 basic
        > desires
        > could be further reduced to just three types of
        > desires.
        > I'm wondering how this would square with your
        > earlier
        > remark that a major problem with psychology has been
        > with its insistence on trying to explain everything
        > in
        > terms of a few basic basic motivatations.
        >
        > Here is a repeat of my earlier post:
        >
        >
        +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
        >
        >
        > I think [Stever's 16 basic desires] can be reduced
        > much further,
        > but only by incorporating a need/desire group which
        > doesn't square
        > very well with are preconceived Darwinian
        > expecations, the
        > need/desire for self-worth/self-esteem/ self-value/
        > self-identity,
        > etc. Reiss's 16 needs, etc. might then be listed
        > under three
        > general headings as follows:
        >
        > A. emotional needs/desires (self-worth/self-esteem,
        > etc):
        >
        > power
        > independence
        > acceptance
        > order
        > honor
        > idealism
        > social contact
        > family
        > status
        > vengeance
        > romance
        >
        > B. intellectual needs/desires:
        >
        > curiousity
        >
        > C. physical needs/desires:
        >
        > eating
        > physical exercise
        >
        > The only one left, tranquility (peace of mind),
        > would simply be
        > the end point desired by the satisfying all of the
        > above.
        >
        >
        +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
        >
        > For me, an empirical test of this simple (perhaps
        > too simple)
        > reduction would simply be to have someone in this
        > egroup
        > offer up an example of something they have thought
        > or done
        > in the past several years that could not be
        > explained in
        > terms of one of these three. Of course, this is
        > based on
        > the bizarre out of fashion idea that a scientist of
        > the
        > mind should actually observe one every now and then.
        > :)
        >
        > PR
        >
        >
        > --
        >
        >






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      • Fred Britton
        ... I have long had an interest in these sorts of questions. I m not aware of all the latest empirical research in this area, but here are some references to
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 1 11:23 AM
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          At 07:12 AM 7/1/04, Wade Allsopp wrote:
          > I would be interested if anyone knows of
          >any empirical reseach in this area. What seems to be the case is that
          >some people are able to compartmentalise their religious beliefs and not
          >subject them to the kind of critical thinking and evidence based
          >scrutiny that they subject their other beliefs to. I agree that it is
          >an open question whether or not this is a good and/or healthy thing for
          >themsleves or indeed society.

          I have long had an interest in these sorts of questions. I'm not aware of
          all the latest empirical research in this area, but here are some
          references to data on the religious beliefs (or lack thereof) of scientists:

          ********************
          Quoting from the following link:

          http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/sci_relig.htm

          Leading Scientists Still Reject God

          [Summary of a paper that appeared in the 23 July 1998 issue of Nature by
          Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham: "Leading Scientists Still Reject God."
          Nature, 1998; 394, 313.]

          Larson and Witham present the results of a replication of 1913 and 1933
          surveys by James H. Leuba. In those surveys, Leuba mailed a questionnaire
          to leading scientists asking about their belief in "a God in intellectual
          and affective communication with humankind" and in "personal immortality".
          Larson and Witham used the same wording [as in the Leuba studies], and sent
          their questionnaire to 517 members of the [U.S.] National Academy of
          Sciences from the biological and physical sciences (the latter including
          mathematicians, physicists and astronomers). The return rate was slightly
          over 50%.

          The results were as follows (figures in %):

          BELIEF IN PERSONAL GOD..........1914...1933...1998

          Personal belief................................27.7.....15......7.0
          Personal disbelief............................52.7.....68.....72.2
          Doubt or agnosticism.......................20.9.....17.....20.8

          BELIEF IN IMMORTALITY................1914...1933...1998

          Personal belief ................................35.2......18......7.9
          Personal disbelief.............................25.4......53.....76.7
          Doubt or agnosticism........................43.7......29.....23.3

          Note: The 1998 immortality figures add up to more than 100%. The misprint
          is in the original. The 76.7% is likely too high.

          The authors elaborated on these figures:

          Disbelief in God and immortality among NAS biological scientists was
          65.2% and 69.0%, respectively, and among NAS physical scientists it was
          79.0% and 76.3%. Most of the rest were agnostics on both issues, with few
          believers. We found the highest percentage of belief among NAS
          mathematicians (14.3% in God, 15.0% in immortality). Biological scientists
          had the lowest rate of belief (5.5% in God, 7.1% in immortality), with
          physicists and astronomers slightly higher (7.5% in God, 7.5% in immortality).

          Larson and Witham close their report with the following remarks:

          As we compiled our findings, the NAS issued a booklet encouraging the
          teaching of evolution in public schools.... The booklet assures readers,
          'Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral'.
          NAS president Bruce Alberts said: 'There are many very outstanding members
          of this academy who are very religious people, people who believe in
          evolution, many of them biologists.' Our survey suggests otherwise."

          [Other links re Scientific American Article]:
          ********************

          Scientific American: Scientists and Religion in America
          Larry Witham

          http://www.mslit.com/details.asp?bookid=1591761662

          ********************
          Scientists and Religion in America : A Scientific American article
          Price: $4.99
          Price Drop Alert
          by ibooks, inc.
          Release Date: 01 May, 2002
          Sales rank: 13,803
          Catalog: Ebook
          Media: Digital
          Author: Edward J. Larson, Larry Witham
          ASIN: B00006BNPH

          http://www.booksmags.com/books/shop3206/pdB00006BNPH/Books/Science/

          ********************
          A number of years ago, perhaps 25 years or so, I recall reading about a
          survey in which it was found that the highest percentage of atheists was
          found among psychologists as compared with other academic pursuits, but
          I've never been able to find the reference since then. Does anyone else
          know anything about such a study?

          Fred Britton
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