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HolyGround >> The more secular, the more superstitious??

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10/7/10 4:12 PM
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Grakman
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The Wall Street Journal provided the following report:

"From Hollywood to the academy, nonbelievers are convinced that a decline in traditional religious belief would lead to a smarter, more scientifically literate and even more civilized populace. The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith - it's what the empirical data tell us.
'What Americans Really Believe,' a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians_
While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things [dreams foretelling future, existence of Atlantis, haunting, necromancy, Bigfoot and Nessie], only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did_In fact, the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he was to believe in, for instance, the possibility of communicating with people who are dead.
This is not a new finding. In his 1983 book "The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener," skeptic and science writer Martin Gardner cited the decline of traditional religious belief among the better educated as one of the causes for an increase in pseudoscience, cults and superstition. He referenced a 1980 study published in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer that showed irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born-again Christian college students were the least likely.
Surprisingly, while increased church attendance and membership in a conservative denomination has a powerful negative effect on paranormal beliefs, higher education doesn't. Two years ago two professors published another study in Skeptical Inquirer showing that, while less than one-quarter of college freshmen surveyed expressed a general belief in such superstitions as ghosts, psychic healing, haunted houses, demonic possession, clairvoyance and witches, the figure jumped to 31% of college seniors and 34% of graduate students."1

1_Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, "Look Who's Irrational Now," The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 19, 2008, p. W13
10/8/10 12:20 AM
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Ridgeback
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 It is a somewhat controversial study since it was funded by Baylor, but I don't think the idea is that hard to believe.  Most people don't realize that the Medieval period was relatively free of superstitions and these picked up during the Renaissance as centralized church authority began to crumble.  The rebirth of classical culture also brought the rebirth of dark magic, witch burning, and other sundry superstitions.

Of course most atheists on the OG consider orthodox Christian belief to be a superstition so it is hard to convey the difference between a rabbit's foot and intercessory prayer to them.
10/9/10 9:55 AM
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cluster
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So the article says that people who follow and have a good understanding of a well-defined system won't believe things that fall outside that system?
10/9/10 12:32 PM
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Grakman
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cluster - So the article says that people who follow and have a good understanding of a well-defined system won't believe things that fall outside that system?

 You could say that.  Perhaps the point is that, with the trashing and thrashing of traditional religion by the New Atheists and so on, making traditional beliefs unpopular and mocked as superstitious, the void left behind hasn't been filled with secular utopia but rather New Age ideas that are all over the place, less scientific and more superstititous in practice, than traditional religion.
10/9/10 12:50 PM
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Robert Wynne
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cluster - So the article says that people who follow and have a good understanding of a well-defined system won't believe things that fall outside that system?

 that is true from what i've seen, they like the easy plan, they love to be dominated and abused, by a controllative individual or group, as long as their accepted, they would follow their group straight down the tainted kool-aid line. They hang out in airports and other public places, always looking to follow their human masters, and recruit, recruit, recruit....while they blatantly lie.... they have been brain washed  by the system they choose to follow.
10/9/10 1:06 PM
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cluster
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I think I left out a sentence in my post before

Out of curiosity, has anyone read Ramsey Duke's SSOTBME? I gotta get going, but it seems relevant to the discussion. In it, he posits four types of interpreting the world that give rise to four types of belief. http://www.scribd.com/doc/6540146/SSOTBME-An-Essay-on-Magic check out page 3 for a relevant graph.

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