Tag Archives: Psychology

Conservatives and Fear

Fear drives conservatism.

As reported in one study where participants were invited to imagine that they had been magically granted either the ability to fly, or personal invulnerability,  “If they had just imagined being able to fly, their responses to the social attitude survey showed the usual clear difference between Republicans and Democrats — the former endorsed more conservative positions on social issues and were also more resistant to social change in general.  But if they had instead just imagined being completely physically safe, the Republicans became significantly more liberal”.

In others, dirt, stench, hand sanitisers, hard chairs, churches, hospitals, and cemeteries – reminders of discomfort, illness, or mortality – prompted people to vote right wing.  One in that set also formulated a process: empathy leads to economic liberalism, its lack to economic conservatism; positivity to social liberalism; its lack to social conservatism.

Conservatives have been found to focus more on negative aspects, to stress more about them, and to shun new experiences.

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No change

Τα εθνη γαρ, ακουοντα εκ του στοματος ‘ημων τα λογια του θεου, ‘ως καλα και μεγαλα θαυμαζει.  Επειτα καταμαθοντα τα εργα ‘ημων ‘οτι ουκ εστιν αξια των ‘ρηματων ‘ων λεγομεν, ενθεν εις βλασφημιαν τρεπονται, λεγοντες ειναι μυθον τινα και πλανην. ‘Οταν γαρ ακουσωσιν παρ ‘ημων ‘οτι λεγει ‘ο θεος. Ου χαρις ‘υμιν ει αγαπατε τους αγαπωντας ‘υμας αλλα καρις ‘υμιν ει αγαπατε τους εχθρους και τους μισουντας ‘υμας. Ταυτα ‘οταν ακουσωσιν, θαυμαζουσιν την ‘υπερβολην της αγαθοτητος.  ‘Οταν δε ιδωσιν ‘οτι ου μονον τους μισουντας ουκ αγαπωμεν, αλλ ‘οτι ουδε τους αγαπωντας, καταγελωσιν και βλασφημειται το ονομα.

For the non-Christians, on hearing from our mouths the words of G-d, wonder at the beauty and magnificence.  But, on learning that our acts do not match the words which we speak, they turn to blasphemy, calling it a myth and a deception.  For whenever they hear from us that G-d says, ‘It is of no merit to you if you love those who love you, but it is of merit to you if you love your enemies and those hating you’, whenever they hear such things, they wonder at this surpassing beneficence.  And when they see that not only do we not love the ones hating us, but that neither do we love the ones loving us, they mock us and blaspheme the Name. – 2 Clement 13 (prob. C2nd)

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Scientists and Faith

A 2016 Ipsos Mori survey of 3000 scientists in the UK, France, and Germany found that about as many (c.43%) are “spiritual” or “religious” as are non-religious.  Meanwhile, a 2009 Pew survey in the USA found that 41% of chemists, 32% of biologists, 30% of geologists, and 29% of physicists and astronomers are religious, and a worldwide study found that 47% of scientists are “spiritual” or “religious”.

What I find most curious, however, is that the Pew survey demonstrates a greater tendency towards religion amongst young scientists, a tendency which is directly opposite to the trend in the general population worldwide. It is also notable that fewer scientists in the US than in the UK, France, or Germany are religious, and yet the US has by far the most religious general population. In addition, the worldwide study shows that, while 44% of the general population of Taiwan identify as religious, 54% of Taiwanese scientists do. In Hong Kong, those figures are 20% and 39%.
 
I wonder, then, what the correlation between scientists and cultural divergence is, and whether the probability of a scientist’s being religious is inversely proportional to the probability of the average citizen’s being so.

 

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The Economics of Sectarianism

Peter Leeson and Jacob Russ (George Mason University, Virginia, USA): “Europe’s witch trials reflected non-price competition between the Catholic and Protestant churches for religious market share in confessionally contested parts of Christendom. By leveraging popular belief in witchcraft, witch-prosecutors advertised their confessional brands’ commitment and power to protect”.

The paper also discusses the difference between “coercive exclusion” (i.e. monopolistic) tactics, and how those are only successful in areas where “brand loyalty is strong”.  In more-contested markets, churches had to “make their brands more attractive to religious consumers”.  That is a lesson which many churches today need to learn, especially the ones who imagine that fear is the only motivator towards religion.

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Young people’s views of religion

The following is a useful graphic display of the difference between US Christian and non-Christian views of Christianity. Barna have a similar chart relating to what people perceive as “extreme” in religion, and nearly three times as many young Brits believe religion to be a nett source of evil as believe it to be a nett source of good. 

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Conservatives panic more easily

As the Atlantic noted, conservative are easier to panic. Unfortunately, this also means that they can be scared into imagining that climate change is a Chinese conspiracy rather than being scared into actually doing something about climate change.

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Agnostic verbal skills FTW

On a verbal intelligence (wordsum) test (out of 10):
* people who are certain God exists (5.83)
* people who believe in God part of the time (5.84)
* atheists (6.13)
* people who harbour doubts but still believe (6.29)
* deists (6.82)
* agnostics (7.05)
(W S Bainbridge, ‘Atheism’, Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion, pp.321-2)

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