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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Author: Atheists less likely to be sentimental




Now David Hume, tell us something that we don't already know...


"Just listened o Paul Bloom, author of How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like, on a podcast (mp3). He notes that the chain of possession of items impacts how much pleasure we gain out of ownership, or at least our attachment to them. As an example, it is not unknown for people to be attached to the clothes and other personal items of a loved one who has passed away. The attachment may not derive from any sensory empirical rationale; rather, it is knowing the chain of possession and a sentiment that an essence of the loved one has been imparted (yes, I know that clothes may sometimes retain distinctive scents, but discount those details. The example holds true for objects such as pens which retain no sensory trace).

The strength of this sentiment varies from person to person. Bloom observes that there are individuals who have no sentimental attachment to objects at all. That is, individuals for whom objects are simply means to a bundle of ends, pure utility. So long as the bundle of elements remains invariant objects can be substituted at will. Bloom contends two demographic variables seem to common among this set of individuals who lack any sentiment toward objects:

1) Overwhelmingly male

2) Invariably atheist

(note that this does not entail that most males or atheists are circumscribed by this set!)


As someone who believes that the deep neurobiological root of theism is rooted in sentiment I find this eminently plausible. Perhaps one reason that atheists are unpopular in American society is that atheists are often so psychologically abnormal, and lacking in conventional sentiment and emotional response."

All of this is highly consistent and give further support to the the writings of one famous author who stated..."It is no wonder that the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey reported that atheists are one-third as likely to be married as the average American; these are the sort of men who believe that boring a woman with lengthy explanations of why her opinions are incorrect is the best way to her heart."

18 comments:

Froggie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy said...

"Abnormal" is an interesting word in general. Somewhat neutral since it's a comparison word. Are atheists "psychologically abnormal"? Perhaps yes simply based on the fact that this group is a minority population. Furthermore, in America specifically, because there may exist a stigma attached to being atheist, it could follow that someone in this group would be different psychologically than the majority population.

Froggie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Froggie said...

Tracy,
Don't be silly. Psycological probems/ anomolies/ mental illness knows no cultural boundries.
Depression, schizophrenia, paranoia is equally present in all groups.

Perhaps you were thinking of personality traits.

Jquip said...

Froggie, cultural subgroups are abnormal by definition if they are in the minority of the population. There's hardly anything shocking about such a statement.

Of note however is that there does tend to be a much higher prevalence of psychological disorders amongst such subgroups if they are heavily maligned. Roughly, it's inversely correlated with the size of the subgroup to the general population. So the only question to ask is: Do you think Atheists are largely maligned in popular culture?

Froggie said...

Do you mean subgroups like Mormons? Irish? Latins?, Wiccans?, Libertarians?, Blacks? Chess player? Coin collectors? Engineers?

Define subgroup, then cite your source for "tend to be a much higher prevalence of psychological disorders amongst such subgroups," then we'll talk.

Jquip said...

Froggie: If you're not familiar with the notion of a cultural subgroup then you need to expand your horizons a bit. There's a world of science out their, pal.

As soon as you accomplish some very light reading on the subject you'll see why your unsourced assertion for equal representation of psychological disorders was out of joint with the reality based community.

JD Curtis said...

Is it really that far-fetched Froggie?

Mst of the atheists I encounter online are male.

Insofar as the "Perhaps one reason that atheists are unpopular in American society is that atheists are often so psychologically abnormal, and lacking in conventional sentiment and emotional response." quote, PZ Myers had this to say recently...

"It's an odd way to put it, I know, but it gets your attention. I could have called this the Atheist and Skeptic Problem, which is more accurate, but leads people to start listing all of our problems, starting with how annoying we are, and just for once I'd rather not go down that road." Link

Heck, that about as intellectually honest as I've ever heard the guy.

Froggie said...

Jquip,
I'm not budging until you cite your sources for these "Studies."
Cite them or it didn't happen.

Froggie said...

As far as the defecit of female skeptics there is also a deficit of female preachers, minister, engineers, politicians, carpenters, electricians et & et.
Sociologically speaking there are many cultural and biological reasons for this including centuries of biblical validation of the subjugation of women, htus in a country with a majority of Christians, it should come as no surprise.

Froggie said...

JD,

"Insofar as the "Perhaps one reason that atheists are unpopular in American society is that atheists are often so psychologically abnormal, and lacking in conventional sentiment and emotional response." quote, PZ Myers had this to say recently...

"It's an odd way to put it, I know, but it gets your attention. I could have called this the Atheist and Skeptic Problem, which is more accurate, but leads people to start listing all of our problems, starting with how annoying we are, and just for once I'd rather not go down that road." Link"

Myers statement has nothing to do with the subject you try to relate it to.
He is speaking to the subject of women skeptics.

nice try.

zilch said...

I notice that no studies are cited to support the contention that atheists are less sentimental than theists. It might well be true, but the plural of "anecdote" is not "data", as they say.

Also, you quote some snark from an unnamed author:

"It is no wonder that the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey reported that atheists are one-third as likely to be married as the average American; these are the sort of men who believe that boring a woman with lengthy explanations of why her opinions are incorrect is the best way to her heart."

Again, where's the data? Did this guy get recordings of atheists boring women? Pretty lame. I suspect the real reason is that atheists often have partners and families, but often don't bothered to get married because they see that as a religious thing. I'm one of these. It would have been more to the point to see how many atheists are in relationships or have families, compared to the religious.

All in all, pretty much content-free.

cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch

Jquip said...

Froggie: If you're incapable of doing the most basic reading on Sociology, then I certainly can't help you.

More interestingly, is that I was responding to your blank assertion that there were no such differences. Indeed, your insistence that I provide later what you will not in the first place is a sign of -- dare, I say -- psychological abnormality.

JD Curtis said...

I'm sorry Froggie, but didnt the author of the above quoted article state "Perhaps one reason that atheists are unpopular in American society is that atheists are often so psychologically abnormal, and lacking in conventional sentiment and emotional response." While Myers started out by mentioning "how annoying we (atheists) are"?

I know they don't each use the exact terminology but they are basically saying much the same thing.

JD Curtis said...

Zilch,

The author I quoted was Vox Day. It's in his book The Irrational Atheist and is found on pages 16-17.

Do you think that 1/3rd less is statistically insignificant?

You state that a possible reason for the disparity is that atheists "often don't bothered to get married because they see that as a religious thing". I don't doubt that this might play a factor in all of this.

I recently read an article in The Washington Times that stated "67 percent of first marriages in the United States last at least 10 years, and researchers report that more than three-quarters of married people say they have been faithful to their vows". Link.

Do you have any data insofar as (heterosexual) atheist unions in terms of how long the stay together and monogomy are concerned?

zilch said...

JD- I should have known it was Vox Day. I don't read him since he said date rape does not exist. And I don't argue with the figure of 1/3, but with the explanation for it, which is unsupported snark.

And no, I don't know of any data about the longevity of non-marital atheist unions- I would be interested to hear of any. As you may know, the Barna Research Group found no significant differences in divorce rates between various denominations of Christians and atheists: they're all around 30%, plus or minus a couple percent.

cheers from sunny hot Vienna, zilch

P.S. Lunch is on me if you're ever out this way.

JD Curtis said...

I might take you upo on that someday Zilch.

Insofar as the Barna Research Group findings that you cite, it was discovered that there was a flaw in the methogology that they used. Described in detail by, you guessed it, Vox Day. Link.

zilch said...

You're more than welcome to take me up, JD- I'd love to meet you.

And thanks for the link. I'm sure the issue is far from certain. As far as I can see, though, there's no evidence that atheists behave more poorly than self-identified Christians in general. We have morals too; we just don't ascribe them to God.

cheers from still ridiculously hot Vienna, zilch