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View Diary: Schrödinger's Church, or Wait Wait, don't Convert Me! (153 comments)

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  •  Understanding Religion (8+ / 0-)

    The desire to find "meaning" in existence is apparently an integral part of human nature. I've been convinced that this is a major factor in the invention of religion.

    Just finished reading a book called THE OPTIMISM BIAS which indicates another possible psychological trait that contributes to belief in religion.

    Here is a LINK to an extract from the book.

    I'll quote a bit from the article here:

    We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures. We watch our backs, weigh the odds, pack an umbrella. But both neuroscience and social science suggest that we are more optimistic than realistic. On average, we expect things to turn out better than they wind up being. People hugely underestimate their chances of getting divorced, losing their job or being diagnosed with cancer; expect their children to be extraordinarily gifted; envision themselves achieving more than their peers; and overestimate their likely life span (sometimes by 20 years or more).
    You might expect optimism to erode under the tide of news about violent conflicts, high unemployment, tornadoes and floods and all the threats and failures that shape human life. Collectively we can grow pessimistic – about the direction of our country or the ability of our leaders to improve education and reduce crime. But private optimism, about our personal future, remains incredibly resilient. A survey conducted in 2007 found that while 70% thought families in general were less successful than in their parents' day, 76% of respondents were optimistic about the future of their own family.
    To make progress, we need to be able to imagine alternative realities – better ones – and we need to believe that we can achieve them. Such faith helps motivate us to pursue our goals. Optimists in general work longer hours and tend to earn more. Economists at Duke University found that optimists even save more. And although they are not less likely to divorce, they are more likely to remarry – an act that is, as Samuel Johnson wrote, the triumph of hope over experience.
    Although the author does not discuss religion in her book, it seems to be another result of optimism bias.

    Citing the Bible as proof of God is like citing comic books to prove the existence of Superman. (h/t to Stevie Ray Fromstein @

    by rdbaker43 on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 07:20:36 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  TED video on optimism bias (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Citing the Bible as proof of God is like citing comic books to prove the existence of Superman. (h/t to Stevie Ray Fromstein @

      by rdbaker43 on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 07:57:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Had seen the extract (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Noisy Democrat

      already this week.  Very interesting, not surprising, quite incisive light on human behavior in general.  Don't know if I'll have time for the long version.

      And yes, there is a great deal of literature on the propensity of humans to attribute meaning to even random collections of information.  Much of Magick IS Applied Psychology; we witches must keep up with the state of the science.

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