Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Archive for the ‘Links’ Category

Review of “Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior”

Posted by Ann on February 20, 2011

Read a book review yesterday by John Loftus. It made a lot of sense to me, this idea that people are constantly falling into the mind traps of irrational thought…a hidden world of “sways” or pulls” trapping us into irrational thinking. People seem to be drawn to the irrational. I don’t find it surprising how much irrationality goes into faith. Sadly, this faulty decision making based in irrational values, fears, and biases more often than not results in the suffering and deaths of so many in our world. Until we are free of religious superstition, how can we possibly expect freedom from irrationality? Seems like our irrational selves can only be dealt with when we free our minds of the arrogant belief we are not irrational.

Here’s a little excerpt from his review:

The authors focus on three currents and hidden forces that cause us to act irrationally, “value attrition,” which is our inclination to attribute to a person or thing a certain value based on our initial perceptions, “loss aversion,” which is the tendency to go to great lengths to avoid possible losses, and “diagnosis bias,” which describes our blindness to all evidence that contradicts our initial assessment of a person or situation. In the midst of this they show other ways we’re influenced by the sway of irrational behavior.

About value attrition the authors say: “Once we attribute a value to a person or thing, it dramatically alters our perceptions of subsequent information.” (p. 55) And then “it’s very difficult to view it in any other light.” (p. 56). It is such “a strong force that it has the power to derail our objective and professional judgment.” (p. 63).

About loss aversion the authors say: “The more there is on the line, the easier it is to get swept into an irrational decision.” (p. 22). A closely linked sway is called “commitment.” The more that a person has a commitment to an idea then the more it is virtually impossible for him or her to take a different path. Independently these two forces have a powerful effect on us, “but when the two forces combine; it becomes that much harder to break free and do something else.” (p. 30).

About diagnosis bias the authors say that it “causes us to distort or even ignore objective data.” (p. 75). As such, “we often ignore all evidence that contradicts what we want to believe.” (p. 88)

The authors give us plenty of interesting examples and psychological studies proving that this is what human beings do in ordinary decision making, some of which cost the lives of many people. My argument is that if this is what takes place in our ordinary decision-making, then how much more does this apply when it comes to faith!

For some reason this is reminding me of Nietzsche when he wrote on how one becomes what one is:

Seeing that before long I must confront humanity with the most difficult demand ever made of it, it seems indispensable to me to say who I am. Really, one should know it, for I have not left myself “without testimony.” But the disproportion between the greatness of my task and the smallness of my contemporaries has found expression in the fact that one has neither heard nor even seen me. I live on my own credit; is it perhaps a mere prejudice that I live? … Under these circumstances I have a duty against which my habits, even more the pride of my instincts, revolt at bottom, namely, to say: Hear me! For I am such and such a person. Above all, do not mistake me for someone else!

At the end of their book, the Brafman brothers make a good summarizing statement. What if people accepted this idea of irrationality and began to actively identify the difference between their opinions and the facts?

“It is only by recognizing and understanding the hidden world of sways that we can hope to weaken their influence and curb their power over our thinking and our lives.” (p. 181).


Posted in Books, Links, Quotes, thoughts | 2 Comments »

Evolutionary Metaphysics

Posted by Noraa on November 17, 2010

So I haven’t yet read this and have committed myself to study today, but I may get around to a chapter or two at some point. I figured I would go ahead and post it since I’m sure it will be of interest to this group. Matt Kronbach posted the link on facebook stating it was, “the best and most comprehensive summary I’ve found to date of what I believe about pretty much everything.” I’ve always respected Matt’s intelligence and points of view so I have no doubt it’s worth a read, if for nothing more than the conversation it will no doubt stir up.

Evolutionary Metaphysics

Posted in Links, Philosophy/Theology | 9 Comments »

Poverty-Stricken Africans Receive Desperately Needed Bibles

Posted by prb3 on November 8, 2010

After reading Bob’s  Onion post: ‘Heckled Christian Band Knows How Jesus Felt’, I was reminded of another Onion article I read years ago that I think is guaranteed to make you all laugh and cry a little. Sadly, it sounds all too real!


Posted in Humor, Links | 37 Comments »

Permission Slip

Posted by prb3 on October 25, 2010

Darryl. The kind of friend Jesus would have

Posted in Humor, Links | 2 Comments »

First Church of Atheism

Posted by Ann on October 23, 2010

Yes, there’s a church for atheists, and you can join on-line. The church building is located in PA. If you want to be an ordained atheist minister, you can become an ordained atheist minister. The First Church of Atheism motto: Reason, Thought, and Compassion. As an atheist minister you can perform weddings, funerals, and any other ceremonies normally officiated by members of the clergy. “The one thing binding every FCA minister is his or her belief in science, reason, and reality”: First Church of Atheism Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Humor, Links, Video | 6 Comments »

Is Fundamentalist Christianity an Addiction?

Posted by Jerry on January 17, 2010

I grew up in the south and went to college in the Bible belt states, but having been away from that culture for so long, I sometimes forget how deeply ingrained the cult of Jesus really is among many communities, not just in the south, but throughout the US. Occasionally, meeting or hearing from someone reminds me of this phenomenon. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Links, Reflections & Memories | 17 Comments »

Old Testament Scholars Face Reality

Posted by Ann on December 12, 2009

On a blog I follow there’s an interesting article by Jaco Gericke about the issue of cognitive dissonance and its effect on Old Testament scholars. According to Gericke, most Old Testament scholars begin their studies with scant knowledge of the views of critical scholars and atheists. What they know is based primarily on stereotypes, secondary sources, and straw men. The majority of these scholars consider themselves Christians committed to realism in their study of God. When faced with the fatal flaws in their belief system, Gericke states they experience cognitive dissonance with sometimes serious consequences (mental illness or suicide in rare cases). His article reminded me of a post of mine on this topic, Cognitive Dissonance and the Religious Mind.

Gericke’s full article:

“The Collapse of Realism, Cognitive Dissonance and the ‘Died-Again’ Christian Syndrome”

Posted in Cognitive Science, Links | 4 Comments »

More proof

Posted by Ann on July 14, 2009

For proof that God exists:

Proofs of God’s existence

And here’s a reverse testimony, of sorts, by a guy who could have just as easily been religious, if he hadn’t thought through things, for himself. His rationale for why he’s an atheist:

Why Atheism?

Posted in Links | 1 Comment »