Does religion make people dumber?

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Magical Realist, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Spock and "cold"? Lol. Bear in mind that Spock became a sex icon and one of the most, if not the most popular character in the whole Star Trek franchise. That couldn't happen if he'd be "cold."

    Spock being "cold" is just a particular Western cultural meme.

    The makers of Star Trek are responsible for having spread a misleading view of what "logic," "rationality," "emotion" are. Perhaps they originally just wanted to entertain, by ironically overdoing things, the way it's done otherwise in literature, but that then, in the series and films, the memes kind of took on a life of their own.
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I think this head vs. heart dichotomy is a false one to begin with.
    Although this dichotomy is very popular in Western culture, it's not clear how it is justified. It's not a universal dichotomy; it doesn't exist in all cultures. In Thai, for example, they have one word - "citta" - to refer to both what we call "heart" and "head."

    Thoughts and emotions are two phenomena that accompany eachother. There cannot be one without the other.
    Although a person may be blind to one or the other, so they end up thinking that thoughts and emotions are two different, (mostly) unrelated phenomena.
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  5. Balerion Banned Banned

    That is incorrect. "Citta" generally refers to emotion as opposed to intellect, so they do actually differentiate between feelings and thought. Everyone does.

    Nonsense. Not all thoughts are emotional in nature, and plenty of people are paid to make emotionless decisions. What do you think rationality is?

    They are. They can influence each other, but they don't have to.
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  7. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Without war all would be well? Seems that after 4000 -5000 years of Scriptural "moral" tachings we are morally exactly where we were thousands of years ago. Any improvement of moral standards was achieved by secular law.
    I am talking food and energy and climate. I little tilt in climate this way or that and millions will die. The slow accumulation of CO2. Good nutritious food that will produce healthy humans with maximum chance to develop their skills and mental abilities.

    Nano technology can offer all this, because it allows us to actually build things atom by atom.
  8. Mazulu Banned Banned

    I asked for results, and I got results. I don't expect spirits or spiritual forces to jump through hoops for me. But I did ask to know how spirit connects to reality, to the physical universe. Most physicists walked right by it. But a few physicists can see that the wave-function can easily pass for "spirit". If it is spirit, then the Holy Spirit (God), spirits and spiritual forces can have immediate access to anyone or anything that does not block the wave-function.

    I think that spirits, spiritual forces, spirit matter and even spirit dimensions can exist. But it's not a short leap to burning people for witchcraft. Our civilization is too sophisticated for that. When I was a kid, I lived in New Orleans. I knew people who practiced witchcraft, good magic and evil magic. Occasionally there were strange things that happened including apparitions.

    As for evidence, if you really want it, then you have to open yourself up to it. If you decide to, then I wish you spiritual protection, wisdom and light.
  9. Mazulu Banned Banned

    Logic and emotion are dualistic, at least that is my experience. I suspect there is a next step in which they can generally cooperate. I want to sustain compassion and the deepest heartfelt emotions for my fellow human beings. Simultaneously, I want to be shrewd and wise in my financial and worldly affairs.
  10. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Don't worry Mazulu, there is a god for all those things. Just be careful how you bargain with gods. Faust regretted it.
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I'd like an actual reference for this.

    I've heard about head and heard referring to the same thing from natives.

    The question is, in what way they differentiate between the two, and why.

    In general, an emotion is the bodily sensation that accompanies a thought.

    Rationality is one of the most hotly debated terms in Western culture.

    So you think it is possible, for example, to be both angry (emotion) and with good intentions (thoughts)?
  12. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I wrote: "It doesn't mean that any particular atheist is going to be smarter than any particular religious person. The distributions have way too much overlap to conclude that."

    My intention there was simply to place an intellectual speed-bump in front of the common atheist boast: 'Atheists are smarter than religious people. I'm an atheist. You're a religious person. Therefore I'm smarter than you.'

    Sure, likely because that makes atheists look good. (Many "studies" in the so-called "social sciences" are thinly disguised special-pleading crafted to favor some group or cause.)

    If somebody wants to compare things, then he or she is inevitably going to have to choose what to compare.

    My point was simply to point out that while atheists can make the boast that atheists are smarter (statistically on average, and perhaps only by a small margin) than self-identified religious adherents lumped together as a whole, members of a number of religious denominations and traditions can probably make similar boasts about their own group's statistical superiority compared to atheists.

    According to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), 27% of the adult (25 and over) American population are college graduates. 31% of those who say that they adhere to no religion are college graduates. (Sounds good for the atheists, right?) But 59% of self-identified adherents of 'Eastern Religions' (about 55% of whom are Buddhists) are college graduates. My speculation is that this population will show higher average IQ scores as well, compared both to the general population and to the 'none's, since IQ scores tend to be positively correlated with educational levels.

    In other words, things might not be quite as simple and obvious as they seem at first. If we look at these kind of matters more closely, the atheists aren't necessarily going to be the ones who end up on the top of the heap.

    So, if the intention in this thread was to suggest that religious adherence makes people stupid, or alternatively, that stupid people are drawn disproportionately towards religious adherence, we probably need to be aware that others can make similar arguments. Adherents of 'eastern religions' could make the claim that their traditions make people smarter, or alternatively, that smart people are drawn disproportionately towards eastern religions.

    I think that in the United States context, the latter claim would probably be true. A significant percentage of American adherents of eastern religions are converts to those traditions, and these kind of conversions seem to be disproportionately frequent among university educated people. I'd speculate that's because there is greater flexibility of thought in this population, along with greater knowledge of these otherwise unfamiliar traditions.

    I'm doubtful that we would see the same kind of selection-effect back in Asia, where these 'eastern' religious traditions are going to be the native default conditions into which most people are simply born and about which many people probably give little thought. (Like the position of Christianity here in the US.)
  13. Saturnine Pariah Hell is other people Valued Senior Member

    :shy: Thanks, but i'm still waiting for that evidence to your claim that intelligent people are ALL Debby Downers.
  14. Balerion Banned Banned

    I'm not saying it can't be used in general. In fact, it can be. But generally speaking, "citta" refers to the emotive aspect of the mind, while "manas" refers to thought.

    From wiki:

    Bold emphasis mine.

    I'm no expert on Buddhist teachings, so I don't know why, except to say that every culture recognizes that there is a difference between acting with emotion and acting rationally and the Buddhists would have had no reason to ignore that difference. As to how, I think I've already covered that. The citta is the emotive aspect of the mind, while the manas is the reasoning aspect of the mind. There's a third word, vijnana, but I'm not exactly sure what it means.

    No, in general it is more than that. It's also a mental state, and it doesn't have to accompany a thought. I don't get emotional when I think about this glass of water on my desk, for example.

    I have a feeling that's not true. At least not in the sense you're portraying it here, particularly because what is or isn't rational is context-specific. For example, if I tell you I'm putting my mother in a rest home, you couldn't possibly know just from that statement whether or not I'm acting rationally.

    Of course Are you saying it isn't? I can't even imagine how you'd come to that conclusion. Not only can people be angry and have good intentions--think of a family helping a drug addict relative in spite of the fact that this family member has stolen from them repeatedly--but they can be angry and act objectively. Judges, for example. Remember the Obamacare decision in the Supreme Court last year? The deciding vote went to a Republican, who must have written his opinion with his teeth grinding. But he made the choice that he felt was the objectively correct one.
  15. rodereve Registered Member

    Well, like I previously stated, there's a big problem with picking apart studies, namely you shouldn't always be making conclusions from underlying groups, but instead make conclusions from the study group in question.

    For example, take the study you referenced. The base sample was 175,000 - a very good amount of participants for sample size. Around 150,000 of those were were christian. ONLY 680 were of Eastern religion, ONLY 400 were Buddhist. So after you picked apart the study, you started making observations from a drastically smaller sample pool.

    You can point to the peaks of a study distribution, but when talking about the effects [of religion], you must look to both ends of the entire distribution to make a conclusion. Pointing to the higher end of a distribution, doesn't show the effects on the entire distribution; it is exactly cherry-picking. It's like examining a study on the effects of drinking milk on healthy bone structure, and while the general conclusion is that it has positive effects, you point to the sample group from the DR Congo and say they have predominantly worse physical development and bone structure. Not only do you reduce the sample size, but you start to incorporate more heavily on extraneous or confounding factors such as general nutrition of the country and racial/political factors. When you take a survey from several countries, you start to get a more representative effect of milk consumption, and reduce the circumstantial factors of each individual country.

    Either way, personally, (and feel free to disagree) I don't think buddhism is a religion in the colloquial sense of the word. The popular concept of religion is almost synonymous with a personal God or gods. If you want to take the strict definition of religion, then Satanism would also be included --but people think opposite of that when thinking of religion. There's nothing in Buddhism central about God (whereas other religions are generally theocentric), Buddha doesn't talk about God, doesn't endorse any belief in a creator deity, and there is no use talking about creation and origin, since existence is a circle, there are many beginnings and many endings. There are different states of mind and rebirth, higher beings that could be deities or angels. But while there are some buddhists that believe in God, and some that don't, being a theist is not a necessary requirement to being a buddhist. For me, and as you are also arguing, buddhism is an outlier.
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    This above may be a matter of semantics, so I'll try to make things succinct and focus on this:

    I don't think it is.
    Goodwill and anger are mutually exclusive. Because anger is a form of ill will.

    This is a very generalized way to look at this matter. Intentions take place from moment to moment, as do thoughts and emotions, but you are talking about things that take hours or days or weeks. In such a long time-span, a person is likely to run through a wide range of emotions and thoughts. But you are selectively focusing only on a few that seemingly support your point.

    If it's a mental state, then it's a thought.

    Of course you do. What you feel may be just your baseline mood, so you don't even notice that you have emotions when thinking about that glass of water. Emotions are not only a matter of drama.

    Lol. And this coming from you?! Oh, the unfinished irony!
  17. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

    Religious people can be smart and successful. Look at Jon D. Rockefeller.
  18. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    The real question is whether the criteria by which religiosity is measured in such studies, are relevant and adequate.

    From what I've seen so far, I find the used criteria to be extremely superficial.
  19. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    You know? I bet it can. The smartest man I know is a Mormon.
  20. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

    Being religious doesn't make you stupid. It does require a lot of imagination. Religion motivates many to work hard.
  21. Balerion Banned Banned

    Of course it's a matter of semantics. We're discussing the meanings of words. Anyway, there's nothing to avoid; you said not every culture differentiates between the heart and the mind, and you provided an example of one culture that actually does. If you'd like to take another crack at it, be my guest.

    How is it even possible to make that statement? Are you telling me that my example of a family helping a drug addicted relative in spite of their stealing and lying doesn't happen? How is it that prisoners of war are treated with respect and dignity if anger makes such things impossible? Are all of our soldiers who practice this behavior simply the most chill people on Earth? Come on, think it through.

    On the contrary, you're the one who seems to be selective. For example, you're now trying to redefine emotion as something that is necessarily fleeting, which is utterly untrue. People can and do harbor particular emotions for years, sometimes their whole lives.

    Again, incorrect. A mental state is not a conscious thought, but a frame of mind.

    I'm aware of that. They're called states of mind. But this contradicts what you said earlier about emotions and thoughts being inexorably connected, in the sense of the thought necessarily being a product of the emotion. That's why you earlier said it was impossible to act with goodwill towards a person you're angry with.

    Is this the part where I spend four posts trying to get you to explain your jab, while you spend four posts refusing to because there wasn't actually any substance to it? I think I'll pass.
  22. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Trick question, it wouldn't be new. But the answer has three letters.

    You'd probably be talking about acetylcholine, which has more to do with motor excitation than pure musicality.

    Add some dopamine, maybe you get a different vibe, even if it's still all old school. But it's pure chemistry.

  23. river

    It certainly makes them far more vulnerable to brainwashing

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