Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

Origin of Superstition

A scientific exploration of superstitious beliefs. From Skeptic Magazine:


The Origin of Superstition, Magical Thinking, and Paranormal Beliefs 
(an integrative model)

Marjaana Lindeman & Kia Aarnio | Skeptic Magazine, Volume 13 Number 1 | Sept 2010

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January 5, 2019 Posted by | anthropology, evolutionary psychology, religion | , , , , | 2 Comments

Feeling helpless leads us to see nonexistent patterns

This explains a lot.

Finding Control in Chaos

Feeling helpless leads us to see nonexistent patterns

Siri Carpenter | February 1, 2009 | Scientific American Mind


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August 22, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, psychology, religion | , , | Leave a comment

Why Some People Are More Religious

Is a pound of bricks heavier than a pound of feathers?  Your answer may be related to how religious you are.

Here’s Why Some People Are More Religious Than Others

Tanya Basu | Sept. 22, 2015 | Time Magazine

It may have little to do with education; psychologists now believe that religiosity is linked to whether you solve problems intuitively or deliberatively

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June 4, 2016 Posted by | decision making, religion | , , , | Leave a comment

Altering Belief in God


Mind control: Scientists can now make people alter their prejudices and belief in God

October 15, 2015 | International Business Times

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March 28, 2016 Posted by | brain, decision making, religion | , , , | Leave a comment

Why we believe spooky nonsense

In essence:

“We seem to have evolved to be extremely quick to ascribe agency – the capacity for intention and action – even to inanimate objects. In our ancestral environment, this tendency is not particularly costly in terms of survival and reproduction, but a failure to detect agents that are there can be very costly.”

Now read the whole thing:

Why are we humans so prone to believing spooky nonsense?

Stephen Law | 15 December, 2015 | aeon

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December 18, 2015 Posted by | behaviour, brain, psychology, religion | , | Leave a comment

Religious Kids Are More Selfish Than Non-Religious Kids

Well that’s a surprise…

[Addendum: Another article on the same study, this time from Scientific American: Children with a Religious Upbringing Show Less Altruism ]

Religious Kids Are More Selfish Than Non-Religious Kids, Study Says

By VICE News | November 6, 2015 | 2:00 pm

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November 7, 2015 Posted by | behaviour, religion | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why are people losing their religion?

According to the article below, part of the reason is the internet — but that’s not the whole picture. (Also see post Will religion ever disappear?)

How the Internet Is Taking Away America’s Religion

Using the Internet can destroy your faith. That’s the conclusion of a study showing that the dramatic drop in religious affiliation in the U.S. since 1990 is closely mirrored by the increase in Internet use.

April 4, 2014 | MIT Technology Review

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January 2, 2015 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, religion | , , , | 3 Comments

Will religion ever disappear?

Interesting discussion from BBC.

Will religion ever disappear?

by Rachel Nuwer | 19 December 2014 | BBC Future

Atheism is on the rise around the world, so does that mean spirituality will soon be a thing of the past? Rachel Nuwer discovers that the answer is far from simple.
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December 20, 2014 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, brain, psychology, religion | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Practice your willpower

It turns out willpower is something that can improve with practice. No wonder religions have rituals that force you to do the homework…

From, February 23, 2012:


Lent and the Science of Self-Denial

The hidden health benefits of religious rituals that require willpower

By Jeffrey Kluger
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February 23, 2012 Posted by | behaviour, brain, religion | , , , | Leave a comment

What is religion for?

Preliminary results are starting to come in from the multinational project called Explaining Religion.  From The Economist April 23, 2011 edition:

Religious studies: The good god guide

Tentatively, scientists are asking: exactly what is religion, and what is it for?

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July 17, 2011 Posted by | behaviour, religion | | Leave a comment