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41V-vYSuQrL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Everyone seems to have a “theory” of religion. About 20 years ago Rodney Stark and William Bainbridge published A Theory of Religion, which utilizes a “rational choice” framework, and engages in deduction to make some predictions. As it happens, I believe many of the predictions have not been born out exactly (to be precise, it seems that the supply-side model of religion works best in only a particular type of society, of which the United States may be the best case). A little over 10 years ago David Sloan Wilson published Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society, which attempted to resurrect an organismic metaphor for human societies and a functionalist rationale for the emergence of religious institutions. That is, religion emerges and persists because it maintains and allows for particular functions essential for a society. Wilson’s book was heavy on description because the field was nascent, at least in its newest iteration. Though it is true that intuitively the idea is appealing, scientifically for various reasons it had gone into some disrepute, with evolutionary theories of society in general.

41I42XDmNfL._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_ In Theological Incorrectness: Why Religious People Believe What They Shouldn’t, the author reports on the relatively robust cognitive research which suggests that there is a disjunction between reported beliefs of people of the gods they believe in, and the mental models that people hold in their heads about the gods that they can conceive. Humans may ascribe omniscience to gods, but their behaviors and narratives when pushed off any script suggest that they don’t take this at face value in any deep manner. Or, more accurately, they can’t really construct a plausible model of the universe where gods are omniscient. Similarly, though there is a wide range of high-level religious ideas across denominations, from the spare monotheism of Islam, the de facto* polytheism of Hinduism, to the marginalization of gods in Theravada Buddhism, the author’s field work in Sri Lanka suggests that in fact the average peasants’ conception of supernatural agents was surprisingly uniform across religious groups.

Religion_Explained_by_Pascal_Boyer_book_cover This is unsurprising. Both Scott Atran in In Gods We Trust and Pascal Boyer in Religion Explained develop in detail the evolutionary anthropological raw material from which religious phenomenon seems to be constructed. The abstruse and arcane manner of theological and metaphysical speculation which elite religious practitioners engage in is to a great extent a function of the reality that prosaic human cognition is highly limited and constrained. Perhaps the most surprising revelation of this body of research for me is that ofttimes believers in a particular creed are not quite clear on the details of their own religious profession. As I am an atheist who has never really had any belief in gods in any deep manner this took me by total surprise, but then, I had no intuition to go on. But, after realizing this fact I became much more skeptical of the idea that “Christians are x because the Bible says….” or “Islam is x because the Koran says….” As per Kahneman’s scheme in Thinking, Fast and Slow, much of religious phenomena probably bubbles up from system 1, but the preoccupation of elite institutional religion is geared toward system 2 (not to go off on a current events tangent, but this might explain why so many notionally conservative Christians are willing to put their orthodoxy to the side and support Donald Trump, he appeals to their system 1 instincts).

Around 2007 I basically stopped reading much about the anthropology of religion. Despite this my internet footprint in this area was large enough that I got a review copy of Marketplace of the Gods: How Economics Explains Religion (answer: it doesn’t). But I stopped paying much attention because it didn’t seem like much was changing on the margin. The cognitive and evolutionary anthropologists had laid the ground-work for understanding the basic individual foundations of religious belief. Some thinkers were attempting to develop a model of religion which was more high-level, where religious identity serves as “meta-ethnic” markers (e.g., Peter Turchin). And, theorists in cultural evolution and human behavioral ecology were attempting to push forward models where religious identity served as drivers of inter-group competition.

k10063 But for me the essential element has always been individual scale empirical results. Some of Arya Norzenzayan’s research projects that I’ve seen, reported in Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict, goes in the right direction, though I was still not sure as to the generality or robustness of some the results of his group (a lot of one-off psychological research does need to be put under a high level of scrutiny). But now with a new paper in Nature I am starting to be convinced.

It’s titled Moralistic gods, supernatural punishment and the expansion of human sociality:

…Here we focus on one key hypothesis: cognitive representations of gods as increasingly knowledgeable and punitive, and who sanction violators of interpersonal social norms, foster and sustain the expansion of cooperation, trust and fairness towards co-religionist strangers…We tested this hypothesis using extensive ethnographic interviews and two behavioural games designed to measure impartial rule-following among people (n = 591, observations = 35,400) from eight diverse communities from around the world: (1) inland Tanna, Vanuatu; (2) coastal Tanna, Vanuatu; (3) Yasawa, Fiji; (4) Lovu, Fiji; (5) Pesqueiro, Brazil; (6) Pointe aux Piments, Mauritius; (7) the Tyva Republic (Siberia), Russia; and (8) Hadzaland, Tanzania. Participants reported adherence to a wide array of world religious traditions including Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as notably diverse local traditions, including animism and ancestor worship. Holding a range of relevant variables constant, the higher participants rated their moralistic gods as punitive and knowledgeable about human thoughts and actions, the more coins they allocated to geographically distant co-religionist strangers relative to both themselves and local co-religionists. Our results support the hypothesis that beliefs in moralistic, punitive and knowing gods increase impartial behaviour towards distant co-religionists, and therefore can contribute to the expansion of prosociality.

The top-line result is displayed in the figure above. In short those who held beliefs about moralistic gods were more altruistic, more ethical, toward co-religionists. This confirms a deep human intuition. Recall that historically atheists were held in suspicion because they were perceived to be unethical, and even today in the United States most Americans view atheists unfavorably. Though these results don’t say anything about atheism (it seems unlikely any of the respondents were atheists!), it does suggest that moralistic gods do nudge many people toward particular behaviors, so they logically infer that removing the god from the equation would result in the converse.

This is only a letter, so quite short. You really need to read the supplements to get a good feel. Additionally, their data and code are online.

Some of you may take from these findings deep and wide-ranging conclusions as to the utility of religion in the modern world. Or, you may rebel against accepting that moralistic gods really could make people more altruistic. I would suggest that people not draw too much from one single study, but rather see this as one of the first empirical steps toward understanding the relationship between religion and prosocial behavior in a cross-cultural and controlled context. Too many of the economic analyses of religion have focused on data sets amenable to econometric analysis, while detailed ethnographic studies were often too qualitative and theory poor. This research programs combines empirical richness with theoretical rigor.

Many “new atheists” and religiously convinced will continue to ignore this research, because it will (possibly) challenge their deeply held notions. Basically, they believe they know all their needs to be known about religion. In contrast, there are those of us who believe that there’s a lot we don’t know, for we haven’t bitten of the apple and are not as the gods.

* I make the qualification because I am aware that many Hindus would vociferously assert their religion is monotheistic fundamentally. I’m not interested in technical details, but rather wish to emphasize that Hinduism has traditionally been more accepting of a multiplicity of god-heads, even if the ultimate source is unitary in a monistic understanding of the universe.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Cognitive anthropology, Religon 
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  1. “I approached the stone, and I could not believe what I was seeing,” said Rina Talgam, a Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor specializing in ancient art of the Middle East. Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists had asked her to visit the site to view Magdala’s mosaics and frescoes, but when she first saw the stone, “they said I stood there for three hours.”

    Ms. Talgam concluded that she was looking at a three-dimensional depiction of the Temple of Herod, including its most sacred inner sanctum, known as the Holy of Holies.

    She has since spent years deciphering and interpreting the symbols that adorn the stone and researching the possible implications of the discovery.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/09/world/middleeast/magdala-stone-israel-judaism.html

    The Magdalen Stone belongs to the Legion of Christ, but Israel excavates after you pay, so that means it belongs to the Jewish State, and they want the find under wraps. “There is some fear of zealotry. The stone on public display at Magdala now is a close replica; the original is locked up in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s storage warehouse in Beit Shemesh.”

    Got that? Only the schizophrenic Jewish woman is allowed access. The rest of you– well this is the Jewish state we don’t do zealots. And there were Christian pilgrims on the way too, the land bought so they could serve the woman’s shelter that was planned to be built by Father Eamon Kelly, Legionaries of Christ out of Ireland; the faithful were on their way and now they get less than nothing: they get to look at forgery, called replica, meaning a forgery labelled FAKE.

    What’s the big deal? Read the rest of that article. They don’t know what the thing is, its not a Jewish altar, and its obviously not a kind of special desk for one guy to sit down and read the Torah. The symbols are new, don’t fit a seen pattern. They don’t know what the symbols mean.

    Actually its interesting that the one to be sure about is the oldest image of a Menorah that the world knows.

    They are saying the synagogue was built in year One, which makes now seven First Century synagogues in the world. The only number more Biblical than Seven is One. Finding the Magdal Stone in this Synagogue is a bracing tension to the consensus scholarship. Because back then Synagogues were not where religious objects would be found. That’s because the only religious objects Jews recognized were what appear to be depicted on that stone, the wears of the inner sanctum, the secret room at The Temple no one but one on Atonement got to see.

    The Temple was pretty strictly where Jews would worship back then, right? Worship meant a money market for the right coin, to which to purchase a lamb, company for a day, then slaughtered and maybe burned piece by piece by the priests. Am I wrong that the priests got creative with the way they killed the lambs, that that’s what “directing pilgrims and advising them on what kinds of sacrifices were to be performed” means? Because it sounds like the notion was to torture the lamb then mutilate the lamb’s dead body. Would that be what advising means? Would that be why food must be kosher, so you don’t accidentally sacrifice whats not an offering? Baseless hatreds pervading a society brought a Temple down, those who spoke over the people said.

    Ms. Talgam said the first century was a period of debates within Judaism, a factor she said must be considered in interpreting the stone.

    Archaeologists can be no less quarrelsome. “There will be disputes” of her interpretation of the stone, Ms. Talgam said. “But that is the way it should be.

    I guess that’s how you say wait and see what I already know I’m going to say, when I can say it the safest way. Or does it suggestively mean you won’t here it hear so keep your ear to the ground?

    NYT just must be sly it seems; they don’t explain why all the import in the world is in the words the article onpens with, they mention only esoterically what makes the subject plain stark baffling: the Magdalen Stone is an intricate carving, and the Jews were no stone carvers, who would even know the technique is a mystery, because statues mean idolatry and false idols were grave.

    This archaeologist can’t say what they all know, because they all know it will never be given back: The Magdala Stone obviously cannot be Jewish.

    Looking at the NYT’s detail, I see two holy grails and a menorah in the sanctum. And yes indeed that would have been Mary Magdalen’s synagogue where it was found. “And he took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.” That from Matthew 15:39. I believe the only place the Bible has Jesus arrive anywhere specially by ship.

    That synagogue must have been the first Christian Church, and we may imagine on the Magdala Stone they placed a cross, because an altar where lambs are no longer slaughtered deservers to be an object of art. An object of art. Yeah I’ll come back to that, first let me find some forgiveness of neighbors.

    • Replies: @Labayu
    Besides being only tangentially on-topic, literally everything you're pedaling in your comment is bullshit. I'll address just two points however. First, any archaeologist or historian can get in to see anything at the IAA storages. I'm an American archaeologist and I've been in there several times. The concern with an artifact like that is that it will be vandalized. Second, there were plenty of Jewish stone carvers. Google "Proto-Aeolic capital" for example. Even the idea that the prohibition on images was universally observed is nonsense. Google "Yahweh coin".
  2. Must we really “explain why so many notionally conservative Christians are willing to put their orthodoxy to the side and support Donald Trump”?
    Or must we rather explain why Razib Khan underwrites to the odd theory that an “orthodox conservatism” and a vote for Trump are incompatible? (Would Russell Kirk have voted for Trump? You bet.)

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Or must we rather explain why Razib Khan underwrites to the odd theory that an “orthodox conservatism” and a vote for Trump are incompatible? (Would Russell Kirk have voted for Trump? You bet.)


    rule of thumb: if you are going to quote something i said actually use what i said. i didn't say "orthodox conservatism." if you used quotes in the 'ironic' sense, i didn't mean orthodox conservatism. i mean orthodox christianity, or at least evangelical conservative protestantism, whose leaders aside from falwell jr. find trump uncongenial.
  3. Just a methodological point.

    This study (like many others in the field of anthropology) seems to use as its main source material questionnaires addressed to population living a rather primitive lifestyle in remote locations where their very survival is a constant struggle. It is precisely that remoteness and that difficulty that has allowed them to retain their lifestyle.

    Statistically it is a BIG deal, accounting for something as fundamental as access to food or distance from the rest of humanity is borderline impossible. In this case, what religion a group follows is almost 100% determined by its environment, the very same environment that shapes a group’s culture and social standards (basically, by definition, Muslims in the Philippines are more likely to have been exposed to external influences than animists, which in turn is likely to have impacted their economy, their livelihood and the way their see the world). This introduces a massive level of endogeneity and basically means that any result reached with that sort of sample is totally spurious.

    They’d probably have been better served asking their questions in the cafetaria of UCLA! Granted, it’s not quite as glamorous as interviewing the good people of Lovu or Pointe aux Piments, but it does make a hell more sense. This study doesn’t seen to say anything about God, but it does confirm that the devil hides in the details.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    This study (like many others in the field of anthropology) seems to use as its main source material questionnaires addressed to population living a rather primitive lifestyle in remote locations where their very survival is a constant struggle. It is precisely that remoteness and that difficulty that has allowed them to retain their lifestyle.

    earlier studies used WEIRD samples. also, your characterization is not totally correct. several groups are well integrated into the world economy. read the supplements if you don't have full access to the paper.
  4. Why religion?

    Quite a few religions were all suffered prejudice against them at their early stage as `cult’. Certainly there are many current cults or cult like religions going on right now. Why people join the cult?

    Popularity is always nice feeling for most people. People want to find place they belong.

  5. “Thy Neighbour”, but those not your ‘neighbor’ (ie not fellow group member) are slowly strangled by the success of a cooperating group. Religions are, like nations, survival machines for their members , who are acting as rational agents whether they know it or not. Kahneman says what is not consciously worked out is not rational, but very little of what we do follows from consciously held principles being deliberated on. People never fall in love according to Kahneman’s System 2, but that system is not considered very useful in the real world of decisions, where intuition rules. The more a scientists knows about a subject the more valuable he or she’s intuition on that subject is.

    While a Conservative Christian who acts as if he believe in a moralistic punishing god does so for for intuitive reasons, the same holds true for an atheist who acts as if he believes in materialistic science.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Religions are, like nations, survival machines for their members , who are acting as rational agents whether they know it or not.

    don't presume that you know this, this is a hypothesis. this avenue of research is trying to confirm (or falsify the model). also, the utilization of the term "rational agents" is confusing, don't do so if you aren't talking about individuals or firms.

    While a Conservative Christian who acts as if he believe in a moralistic punishing god does so for for intuitive reasons, the same holds true for an atheist who acts as if he believes in materialistic science.

    i have no idea what you are saying here, especially the second. what are you talking about?
    , @Bill M
    I don't know if Dawkins's "survival machine" analogy is accurate. Physical bodies are survival machines for genes because genes fundamentally code for proteins. Religions are external memes that are independent of their individual members.
  6. Camaraderie can be generated in almost any human organizations/classification including sport teams/club, social class, ethnic group, racial groups, geographic regions, physical features, personality types, religions, professions,(and more than I can name). A single human can have multiple identities/groups belonging in this world.

    The team spirit with trust and altruism almost exist in any of these identity/groups. For example, joining a sport team can make you do cooperative and altruistic behavior in that particular team. Communists want help other communists for obvious reason. But fascists also help out other fascists too. Certainly believing God might do the same thing for fellow believers.

    The psychological effect of groups (or mob) does exist in all situation. After all, helping out person with shared interest is like helping self in many situation. Politics are just that.

    However shared interest is double edge sword which can be both motivation to help (facing common threat) and harm (facing the same resource competition). On the other hand, such feeling might not be to the same degree for any these classification for the any individual. They join the group sharing their ideas.

    • Replies: @Sean
    I agree that people will instinctively identify and defend almost any group they join. The alternative is to be considered a coward and misfit. . But even if they just find themselves in a group they are not particularly in agreement or sympathy with, without choosing to, they still have the same allegiance to the idea and members of the group and will take risks to protect it . Defending the group and cooperating within it is primary and not a result of conscious beliefs. Kahneman has his supporters he is in no way above or beyond Trump supporters or Christians' level of objectivity.
  7. It does explain why Asians in general, but Chinese specially are so… cynical about morality. The conceptualize morality in quite explicit game-theoretical terms. What will people say, you gotta keep face, watch everyone, etc. They do use Buddhism terms of karma and retribution, but it’s quite light as compared to the wrath of the Abrahamic God.

    I always thought it was a genetic trait, that Asians in general just don’t get religion; but the Chinese empire has a history of cracking down, or at least not supporting organized religion, and that may have had some influence. It could be both, though.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    I always thought it was a genetic trait, that Asians in general just don’t get religion; but the Chinese empire has a history of cracking down, or at least not supporting organized religion, and that may have had some influence. It could be both, though.

    it's complicated. you have to conceive of it being selection if you think it's genetic, lots of groups phylogenetically close to chinese, e.g., the bamars or tibetans, are quite religious. i don't think it's genetic, and i think asians are actually quite religious in terms of supernatural intuitions (though atheism seems basally higher). it's just that east asian cultures have as you note above smashed the independent power of organized religion as we understand it (oda nobunaga with the buddhists, and the joson with the buddhists, and chinese dynasties multiple times).
    , @AG

    It does explain why Asians in general, but Chinese specially are so… cynical about morality.
     
    I guess you draw your own conclusion on very limited exposure to Asian or Chinese. Very likely from some one like me. I am scientist by nature and see thing with very objective angles (with little positive and negative judgment). In traditional Asian society, morality is big deal which is very similar to west. I am not representative of typical Asian, especially not typical of Chinese. Most people are very judgmental on many thing as `good' or `bad'.

    Talking about saving face, Western culture is equally cared about looking good . In west, you call it dignity, or respect. For respect (saving face), westerners are equally concern about others opinion and judgment.

    Choosing different words will not change the nature of the game. The same quality can be described positively and negatively. Only unintelligent believes the difference. Thus it is no surprise that unintelligent people can be easily verbally manipulated by choosing different words.

    For self-actualized people, they do not care about other opinions very much.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-actualization

    Reliant on own experiences and judgement. Independent, not reliant on culture and environment to form opinions and views.
  8. @Stogumber
    Must we really "explain why so many notionally conservative Christians are willing to put their orthodoxy to the side and support Donald Trump"?
    Or must we rather explain why Razib Khan underwrites to the odd theory that an "orthodox conservatism" and a vote for Trump are incompatible? (Would Russell Kirk have voted for Trump? You bet.)

    Or must we rather explain why Razib Khan underwrites to the odd theory that an “orthodox conservatism” and a vote for Trump are incompatible? (Would Russell Kirk have voted for Trump? You bet.)

    rule of thumb: if you are going to quote something i said actually use what i said. i didn’t say “orthodox conservatism.” if you used quotes in the ‘ironic’ sense, i didn’t mean orthodox conservatism. i mean orthodox christianity, or at least evangelical conservative protestantism, whose leaders aside from falwell jr. find trump uncongenial.

  9. @spandrell
    It does explain why Asians in general, but Chinese specially are so... cynical about morality. The conceptualize morality in quite explicit game-theoretical terms. What will people say, you gotta keep face, watch everyone, etc. They do use Buddhism terms of karma and retribution, but it's quite light as compared to the wrath of the Abrahamic God.

    I always thought it was a genetic trait, that Asians in general just don't get religion; but the Chinese empire has a history of cracking down, or at least not supporting organized religion, and that may have had some influence. It could be both, though.

    I always thought it was a genetic trait, that Asians in general just don’t get religion; but the Chinese empire has a history of cracking down, or at least not supporting organized religion, and that may have had some influence. It could be both, though.

    it’s complicated. you have to conceive of it being selection if you think it’s genetic, lots of groups phylogenetically close to chinese, e.g., the bamars or tibetans, are quite religious. i don’t think it’s genetic, and i think asians are actually quite religious in terms of supernatural intuitions (though atheism seems basally higher). it’s just that east asian cultures have as you note above smashed the independent power of organized religion as we understand it (oda nobunaga with the buddhists, and the joson with the buddhists, and chinese dynasties multiple times).

    • Replies: @spandrell
    Yes, indeed. A good case study would be the Mongol conversion to Tibetan Buddhism. It always mystified me how that ruthless race of warriors eventually become pious Buddhists. Early Manchu leaders noted how Mongols had lost their martial edge and were only worried with fancy clothes and virtue-signaling.
  10. @Sean
    "Thy Neighbour", but those not your 'neighbor' (ie not fellow group member) are slowly strangled by the success of a cooperating group. Religions are, like nations, survival machines for their members , who are acting as rational agents whether they know it or not. Kahneman says what is not consciously worked out is not rational, but very little of what we do follows from consciously held principles being deliberated on. People never fall in love according to Kahneman's System 2, but that system is not considered very useful in the real world of decisions, where intuition rules. The more a scientists knows about a subject the more valuable he or she's intuition on that subject is.

    While a Conservative Christian who acts as if he believe in a moralistic punishing god does so for for intuitive reasons, the same holds true for an atheist who acts as if he believes in materialistic science.

    Religions are, like nations, survival machines for their members , who are acting as rational agents whether they know it or not.

    don’t presume that you know this, this is a hypothesis. this avenue of research is trying to confirm (or falsify the model). also, the utilization of the term “rational agents” is confusing, don’t do so if you aren’t talking about individuals or firms.

    While a Conservative Christian who acts as if he believe in a moralistic punishing god does so for for intuitive reasons, the same holds true for an atheist who acts as if he believes in materialistic science.

    i have no idea what you are saying here, especially the second. what are you talking about?

  11. @Maharbbal
    Just a methodological point.

    This study (like many others in the field of anthropology) seems to use as its main source material questionnaires addressed to population living a rather primitive lifestyle in remote locations where their very survival is a constant struggle. It is precisely that remoteness and that difficulty that has allowed them to retain their lifestyle.

    Statistically it is a BIG deal, accounting for something as fundamental as access to food or distance from the rest of humanity is borderline impossible. In this case, what religion a group follows is almost 100% determined by its environment, the very same environment that shapes a group's culture and social standards (basically, by definition, Muslims in the Philippines are more likely to have been exposed to external influences than animists, which in turn is likely to have impacted their economy, their livelihood and the way their see the world). This introduces a massive level of endogeneity and basically means that any result reached with that sort of sample is totally spurious.

    They'd probably have been better served asking their questions in the cafetaria of UCLA! Granted, it's not quite as glamorous as interviewing the good people of Lovu or Pointe aux Piments, but it does make a hell more sense. This study doesn't seen to say anything about God, but it does confirm that the devil hides in the details.

    This study (like many others in the field of anthropology) seems to use as its main source material questionnaires addressed to population living a rather primitive lifestyle in remote locations where their very survival is a constant struggle. It is precisely that remoteness and that difficulty that has allowed them to retain their lifestyle.

    earlier studies used WEIRD samples. also, your characterization is not totally correct. several groups are well integrated into the world economy. read the supplements if you don’t have full access to the paper.

  12. @AG
    Camaraderie can be generated in almost any human organizations/classification including sport teams/club, social class, ethnic group, racial groups, geographic regions, physical features, personality types, religions, professions,(and more than I can name). A single human can have multiple identities/groups belonging in this world.

    The team spirit with trust and altruism almost exist in any of these identity/groups. For example, joining a sport team can make you do cooperative and altruistic behavior in that particular team. Communists want help other communists for obvious reason. But fascists also help out other fascists too. Certainly believing God might do the same thing for fellow believers.

    The psychological effect of groups (or mob) does exist in all situation. After all, helping out person with shared interest is like helping self in many situation. Politics are just that.

    However shared interest is double edge sword which can be both motivation to help (facing common threat) and harm (facing the same resource competition). On the other hand, such feeling might not be to the same degree for any these classification for the any individual. They join the group sharing their ideas.

    I agree that people will instinctively identify and defend almost any group they join. The alternative is to be considered a coward and misfit. . But even if they just find themselves in a group they are not particularly in agreement or sympathy with, without choosing to, they still have the same allegiance to the idea and members of the group and will take risks to protect it . Defending the group and cooperating within it is primary and not a result of conscious beliefs. Kahneman has his supporters he is in no way above or beyond Trump supporters or Christians’ level of objectivity.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Kahneman has his supporters he is in no way above or beyond Trump supporters or Christians’ level of objectivity.

    what are you talking about?

  13. @spandrell
    It does explain why Asians in general, but Chinese specially are so... cynical about morality. The conceptualize morality in quite explicit game-theoretical terms. What will people say, you gotta keep face, watch everyone, etc. They do use Buddhism terms of karma and retribution, but it's quite light as compared to the wrath of the Abrahamic God.

    I always thought it was a genetic trait, that Asians in general just don't get religion; but the Chinese empire has a history of cracking down, or at least not supporting organized religion, and that may have had some influence. It could be both, though.

    It does explain why Asians in general, but Chinese specially are so… cynical about morality.

    I guess you draw your own conclusion on very limited exposure to Asian or Chinese. Very likely from some one like me. I am scientist by nature and see thing with very objective angles (with little positive and negative judgment). In traditional Asian society, morality is big deal which is very similar to west. I am not representative of typical Asian, especially not typical of Chinese. Most people are very judgmental on many thing as `good’ or `bad’.

    Talking about saving face, Western culture is equally cared about looking good . In west, you call it dignity, or respect. For respect (saving face), westerners are equally concern about others opinion and judgment.

    Choosing different words will not change the nature of the game. The same quality can be described positively and negatively. Only unintelligent believes the difference. Thus it is no surprise that unintelligent people can be easily verbally manipulated by choosing different words.

    For self-actualized people, they do not care about other opinions very much.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-actualization

    Reliant on own experiences and judgement. Independent, not reliant on culture and environment to form opinions and views.

    • Replies: @spandrell
    Oh, I know plenty of people of all sorts, and I'm very well acquainted with literature of all ages, so I think I have a reasonably good picture.

    Of course the game of life is the same, but while Caucasians of all shades tend to overtly frame their morality in religious terms, Asians are quite more explicit about the real nature of the game. Girls must be chaste lest they lose out (吃亏), one should follow social norms lest your neighbors laugh at you (让人笑话), and "face" is quite obviously a game-theorical concept, while God and Sin isn't. A Chinese will openly ask you to "give him face", while a Westerner will never ask you to "make him look good". He'll frame it in more abstract terms. Of course the same shenanigans are going on, but the difference in wording is stark.

    Not saying Asians are immoral, just that they seem to understand that morality is a matter of social balance of forces, and not some supernatural "law". Of course the old idea of behaving well in order not to be ashamed to meet one's ancestors is somewhat religious, but the feelings of daddy in heaven are qualitatively different from the demands of an abstract God.
  14. @Sean
    I agree that people will instinctively identify and defend almost any group they join. The alternative is to be considered a coward and misfit. . But even if they just find themselves in a group they are not particularly in agreement or sympathy with, without choosing to, they still have the same allegiance to the idea and members of the group and will take risks to protect it . Defending the group and cooperating within it is primary and not a result of conscious beliefs. Kahneman has his supporters he is in no way above or beyond Trump supporters or Christians' level of objectivity.

    Kahneman has his supporters he is in no way above or beyond Trump supporters or Christians’ level of objectivity.

    what are you talking about?

    • Replies: @Sean

    But, after realizing this fact I became much more skeptical of the idea that “Christians are x because the Bible says….” or “Islam is x because the Koran says….” As per Kahneman’s scheme in Thinking, Fast and Slow, much of religious phenomena probably bubbles up from system 1, but the preoccupation of elite institutional religion is geared toward system 2 (not to go off on a current events tangent, but this might explain why so many notionally conservative Christians are willing to put their orthodoxy to the side and support Donald Trump, he appeals to their system 1 instincts).
     
    Kahneman’s primary academic opponent is Gerd Gigerenzer

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerd_Gigerenzer A critic of the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Gigerenzer argues that heuristics should not lead us to conceive of human thinking as riddled with irrational cognitive biases, but rather to conceive rationality as an adaptive tool that is not identical to the rules of formal logic or the probability calculus. He and his collaborators have theoretically and experimentally shown that many so-called cognitive fallacies are better understood as adaptive responses to a world of uncertainty - such as the conjunction fallacy, the base rate fallacy, and overconfidence [...] Intellectually, Gigerenzer's work is rooted in Herbert Simon’s work on satisficing (as opposed to maximizing) and on ecological and evolutionary views of cognition, where adaptive function and success is central, as opposed to logical structure and consistency, although the latter can be means towards function
     
    It's true enough that conservative Christians using System 2-style conscious deliberation with the Bible or tenets of their faith a key criterion would not support Trump. But that does not mean Trump's conservative Christian supporters are thinking atavistically. The essence of religion may be identifying with members of a symbolic group for reciprocal advantage, and conservative Christians may be using an adaptive function to correctly identify Trump as one of them in the way they did when they voted for Ronald Reagan, who rarely went to church.
  15. @Pat Casey

    “I approached the stone, and I could not believe what I was seeing,” said Rina Talgam, a Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor specializing in ancient art of the Middle East. Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists had asked her to visit the site to view Magdala’s mosaics and frescoes, but when she first saw the stone, “they said I stood there for three hours.”

    Ms. Talgam concluded that she was looking at a three-dimensional depiction of the Temple of Herod, including its most sacred inner sanctum, known as the Holy of Holies.

    She has since spent years deciphering and interpreting the symbols that adorn the stone and researching the possible implications of the discovery.
     
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/09/world/middleeast/magdala-stone-israel-judaism.html

    The Magdalen Stone belongs to the Legion of Christ, but Israel excavates after you pay, so that means it belongs to the Jewish State, and they want the find under wraps. "There is some fear of zealotry. The stone on public display at Magdala now is a close replica; the original is locked up in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s storage warehouse in Beit Shemesh."

    Got that? Only the schizophrenic Jewish woman is allowed access. The rest of you-- well this is the Jewish state we don't do zealots. And there were Christian pilgrims on the way too, the land bought so they could serve the woman's shelter that was planned to be built by Father Eamon Kelly, Legionaries of Christ out of Ireland; the faithful were on their way and now they get less than nothing: they get to look at forgery, called replica, meaning a forgery labelled FAKE.

    What's the big deal? Read the rest of that article. They don't know what the thing is, its not a Jewish altar, and its obviously not a kind of special desk for one guy to sit down and read the Torah. The symbols are new, don't fit a seen pattern. They don't know what the symbols mean.

    Actually its interesting that the one to be sure about is the oldest image of a Menorah that the world knows.

    They are saying the synagogue was built in year One, which makes now seven First Century synagogues in the world. The only number more Biblical than Seven is One. Finding the Magdal Stone in this Synagogue is a bracing tension to the consensus scholarship. Because back then Synagogues were not where religious objects would be found. That's because the only religious objects Jews recognized were what appear to be depicted on that stone, the wears of the inner sanctum, the secret room at The Temple no one but one on Atonement got to see.

    The Temple was pretty strictly where Jews would worship back then, right? Worship meant a money market for the right coin, to which to purchase a lamb, company for a day, then slaughtered and maybe burned piece by piece by the priests. Am I wrong that the priests got creative with the way they killed the lambs, that that's what "directing pilgrims and advising them on what kinds of sacrifices were to be performed" means? Because it sounds like the notion was to torture the lamb then mutilate the lamb's dead body. Would that be what advising means? Would that be why food must be kosher, so you don't accidentally sacrifice whats not an offering? Baseless hatreds pervading a society brought a Temple down, those who spoke over the people said.

    Ms. Talgam said the first century was a period of debates within Judaism, a factor she said must be considered in interpreting the stone.

    Archaeologists can be no less quarrelsome. “There will be disputes” of her interpretation of the stone, Ms. Talgam said. “But that is the way it should be.
     
    I guess that's how you say wait and see what I already know I'm going to say, when I can say it the safest way. Or does it suggestively mean you won't here it hear so keep your ear to the ground?

    NYT just must be sly it seems; they don't explain why all the import in the world is in the words the article onpens with, they mention only esoterically what makes the subject plain stark baffling: the Magdalen Stone is an intricate carving, and the Jews were no stone carvers, who would even know the technique is a mystery, because statues mean idolatry and false idols were grave.

    This archaeologist can't say what they all know, because they all know it will never be given back: The Magdala Stone obviously cannot be Jewish.

    Looking at the NYT's detail, I see two holy grails and a menorah in the sanctum. And yes indeed that would have been Mary Magdalen's synagogue where it was found. "And he took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala." That from Matthew 15:39. I believe the only place the Bible has Jesus arrive anywhere specially by ship.

    That synagogue must have been the first Christian Church, and we may imagine on the Magdala Stone they placed a cross, because an altar where lambs are no longer slaughtered deservers to be an object of art. An object of art. Yeah I'll come back to that, first let me find some forgiveness of neighbors.

    Besides being only tangentially on-topic, literally everything you’re pedaling in your comment is bullshit. I’ll address just two points however. First, any archaeologist or historian can get in to see anything at the IAA storages. I’m an American archaeologist and I’ve been in there several times. The concern with an artifact like that is that it will be vandalized. Second, there were plenty of Jewish stone carvers. Google “Proto-Aeolic capital” for example. Even the idea that the prohibition on images was universally observed is nonsense. Google “Yahweh coin”.

    • Replies: @Pat Casey
    http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-sites/proto-aeolic-capital-kept-quiet-but-why/

    That's fascinating thanks I'm going to read everything I can find about this. You don't think your peddling something there though with that example? Like I said, fascinating.

    I know a bit more about my tradition than you do, and that almost always means I know a bit more about the Jewish tradition than Jews do, because comparisons are stark when you really understand one of them, no more so than when next to that one. Why don't you start with the history of the word Icon. And yes indeed lets get scrupulous about what google image can do.

    What was Joyce really saying about that ONAN scene do you think? Such desire so much guilt Irish Catholic in me poor Onan's impure thoughts the air they wanted to. LOL. Getting it a little maybe now do ya?

    Yahweh coin? Yeah you know exactly what I was talking about. What else ya got?

    Access smaccess that object belongs in a Catholic Church and they damn well know so. Address that. Though I'm sure if I was an American archeologist I would think kindly of warehouses too.
  16. @Sean
    "Thy Neighbour", but those not your 'neighbor' (ie not fellow group member) are slowly strangled by the success of a cooperating group. Religions are, like nations, survival machines for their members , who are acting as rational agents whether they know it or not. Kahneman says what is not consciously worked out is not rational, but very little of what we do follows from consciously held principles being deliberated on. People never fall in love according to Kahneman's System 2, but that system is not considered very useful in the real world of decisions, where intuition rules. The more a scientists knows about a subject the more valuable he or she's intuition on that subject is.

    While a Conservative Christian who acts as if he believe in a moralistic punishing god does so for for intuitive reasons, the same holds true for an atheist who acts as if he believes in materialistic science.

    I don’t know if Dawkins’s “survival machine” analogy is accurate. Physical bodies are survival machines for genes because genes fundamentally code for proteins. Religions are external memes that are independent of their individual members.

    • Replies: @Sean

    Religions are external memes that are independent of their individual members.
     
    Cults like like the Shakers and Skoptsy could be said to be independent of the wellbeing of their believers. But I don't think major religions could be. When we are up against it we instinctively want to be around friends, family, people like us or fellow believers. All those who will be willing to give us reciprocal help. Dawkins thinks religion is a virus that offers no real advantages to those who practice it. Well, when it offers no advantages it gets discarded, as Christianity is being discarded in the affluent west, but it is far from obvious that those communities will endure without religion. They seem to be heading for demographic ellipse.

    Nationalism is the same. The religious and/or patriotic communities are not rich. Gates and Zuckerberg ect announced they are going to be giving all their money away to the worlds poor, meanwhile they evade paying their national taxes

  17. I wonder if the key term in your quote is “fairness” In that the Gods may be mean but do not play dice. I was reminded of the paper “Evolution of responses to (un)fairness” by Brosnan and de Waal. Which sees a need for fairness in Chimps.
    And perhaps more broadly “…for reciprocal altruism to evolve.. A mechanism for detecting ‘cheaters’ must exist” Wiki on Reciprocal Altruism
    Also I have been wondering about why large poly-national empires Ottoman, Austrian, Raj were able to maintain relative peace among the various groups. Who after “decolonization” had it on with each other. Was it only the strong police presence. Or was it that these distant provided a sense of evenhanded if rough justice. And as in Egypt, there was a merger of Ruler and God.
    And in the US it was perhaps this so-necessary sense of fairness is what allowed the great “melting pot” to evolve and maintain.
    Perhaps the “augmented fairness” of Affirmative Action has had the effect opposite to extending the melting pot.

  18. @Labayu
    Besides being only tangentially on-topic, literally everything you're pedaling in your comment is bullshit. I'll address just two points however. First, any archaeologist or historian can get in to see anything at the IAA storages. I'm an American archaeologist and I've been in there several times. The concern with an artifact like that is that it will be vandalized. Second, there were plenty of Jewish stone carvers. Google "Proto-Aeolic capital" for example. Even the idea that the prohibition on images was universally observed is nonsense. Google "Yahweh coin".

    http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-sites/proto-aeolic-capital-kept-quiet-but-why/

    That’s fascinating thanks I’m going to read everything I can find about this. You don’t think your peddling something there though with that example? Like I said, fascinating.

    I know a bit more about my tradition than you do, and that almost always means I know a bit more about the Jewish tradition than Jews do, because comparisons are stark when you really understand one of them, no more so than when next to that one. Why don’t you start with the history of the word Icon. And yes indeed lets get scrupulous about what google image can do.

    What was Joyce really saying about that ONAN scene do you think? Such desire so much guilt Irish Catholic in me poor Onan’s impure thoughts the air they wanted to. LOL. Getting it a little maybe now do ya?

    Yahweh coin? Yeah you know exactly what I was talking about. What else ya got?

    Access smaccess that object belongs in a Catholic Church and they damn well know so. Address that. Though I’m sure if I was an American archeologist I would think kindly of warehouses too.

  19. I know a bit more about my tradition than you do, and that almost always means I know a bit more about the Jewish tradition than Jews do, because comparisons are stark when you really understand one of them, no more so than when next to that one.

    that’s really presumptuous. my experience is that christians think they know a lot about judaism, but don’t. additionally, though jews can be ignorant about christianity, many are quite familiar if they grow up in a christian milieu, which is very normal in the united states.

    in any case this thread ends here. won’t publish follow ups.

  20. I won’t be discursive but I did want to come back to this to tie together my first comment. The only metaphysical principle that can be derived from the New Testament is the Law of Attraction, which transmutes, practically, into attractivity, hence Art. That either makes sense to you or it doesn’t, but it makes sense to me why Scientists generally find poetry overrated, and consider the Law Attraction perfect pseudo-science. The heavenly graces, Faith Hope Charity, either strike you as lovely or they don’t, but they strike no one as stern or anything like Abraham. Note they are what the Church derived from the Gospel; very elegant and also yes the essence of the Law of Attraction.

    Attractivity. Mystics look like an attractive ideal to the minds eye of an inspired artist; the hagiography of Saints has made poverty into beautiful stories; those ubiquitous cruel crucifixes materialize the image all those statues of Our Lady can’t escape, a mother’s perfect sorrow is actually becoming; a religion of Icons and the Art of Light centered in Italy.

    I would suggest that people not draw too much from one single study, but rather see this as one of the first empirical steps toward understanding the relationship between religion and prosocial behavior in a cross-cultural and controlled context.

    Pro-social behavior: Art grounded in Morality grounds Ethics. Mysterious i.e. Interesting i.e. Gripping. Beauty. Happiness. Truth. Peace of mind. Point is, show me the art of a religion’s best artist and I’ll rank them accordingly pro-social.

    Now remember what that fucking Temple was all about. I bet most people don’t even know you can’t really convert to being a Jew; consider why the ones who don’t know that never do. And the Holiest of Holies were not for human eyes.

    To think, Catholic Bishops once had their thumb on Hollywood…

  21. @AG

    It does explain why Asians in general, but Chinese specially are so… cynical about morality.
     
    I guess you draw your own conclusion on very limited exposure to Asian or Chinese. Very likely from some one like me. I am scientist by nature and see thing with very objective angles (with little positive and negative judgment). In traditional Asian society, morality is big deal which is very similar to west. I am not representative of typical Asian, especially not typical of Chinese. Most people are very judgmental on many thing as `good' or `bad'.

    Talking about saving face, Western culture is equally cared about looking good . In west, you call it dignity, or respect. For respect (saving face), westerners are equally concern about others opinion and judgment.

    Choosing different words will not change the nature of the game. The same quality can be described positively and negatively. Only unintelligent believes the difference. Thus it is no surprise that unintelligent people can be easily verbally manipulated by choosing different words.

    For self-actualized people, they do not care about other opinions very much.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-actualization

    Reliant on own experiences and judgement. Independent, not reliant on culture and environment to form opinions and views.

    Oh, I know plenty of people of all sorts, and I’m very well acquainted with literature of all ages, so I think I have a reasonably good picture.

    Of course the game of life is the same, but while Caucasians of all shades tend to overtly frame their morality in religious terms, Asians are quite more explicit about the real nature of the game. Girls must be chaste lest they lose out (吃亏), one should follow social norms lest your neighbors laugh at you (让人笑话), and “face” is quite obviously a game-theorical concept, while God and Sin isn’t. A Chinese will openly ask you to “give him face”, while a Westerner will never ask you to “make him look good”. He’ll frame it in more abstract terms. Of course the same shenanigans are going on, but the difference in wording is stark.

    Not saying Asians are immoral, just that they seem to understand that morality is a matter of social balance of forces, and not some supernatural “law”. Of course the old idea of behaving well in order not to be ashamed to meet one’s ancestors is somewhat religious, but the feelings of daddy in heaven are qualitatively different from the demands of an abstract God.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    but while Caucasians of all shades tend to overtly frame their morality in religious terms

    the word caucasian is retarded. please use european or white from now on.
    , @Razib Khan
    A Chinese will openly ask you to “give him face”, while a Westerner will never ask you to “make him look good”. He’ll frame it in more abstract terms.

    i don't really believe this. i don't not believe it. i barely know how to evaluate what you're saying.
  22. @Razib Khan
    I always thought it was a genetic trait, that Asians in general just don’t get religion; but the Chinese empire has a history of cracking down, or at least not supporting organized religion, and that may have had some influence. It could be both, though.

    it's complicated. you have to conceive of it being selection if you think it's genetic, lots of groups phylogenetically close to chinese, e.g., the bamars or tibetans, are quite religious. i don't think it's genetic, and i think asians are actually quite religious in terms of supernatural intuitions (though atheism seems basally higher). it's just that east asian cultures have as you note above smashed the independent power of organized religion as we understand it (oda nobunaga with the buddhists, and the joson with the buddhists, and chinese dynasties multiple times).

    Yes, indeed. A good case study would be the Mongol conversion to Tibetan Buddhism. It always mystified me how that ruthless race of warriors eventually become pious Buddhists. Early Manchu leaders noted how Mongols had lost their martial edge and were only worried with fancy clothes and virtue-signaling.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Early Manchu leaders noted how Mongols had lost their martial edge and were only worried with fancy clothes and virtue-signaling.

    i'm assuming they're talking about the khalkha. the oirat remained quite a military problem until the 18th century when they were crushed between russia and the manchus. the oirat were also buddhist by this time, so i'm skeptical of the pacific effect of buddhism (the manchu themselves were quite partial to this form of buddhism in their non-chinese guise).

  23. @spandrell
    Oh, I know plenty of people of all sorts, and I'm very well acquainted with literature of all ages, so I think I have a reasonably good picture.

    Of course the game of life is the same, but while Caucasians of all shades tend to overtly frame their morality in religious terms, Asians are quite more explicit about the real nature of the game. Girls must be chaste lest they lose out (吃亏), one should follow social norms lest your neighbors laugh at you (让人笑话), and "face" is quite obviously a game-theorical concept, while God and Sin isn't. A Chinese will openly ask you to "give him face", while a Westerner will never ask you to "make him look good". He'll frame it in more abstract terms. Of course the same shenanigans are going on, but the difference in wording is stark.

    Not saying Asians are immoral, just that they seem to understand that morality is a matter of social balance of forces, and not some supernatural "law". Of course the old idea of behaving well in order not to be ashamed to meet one's ancestors is somewhat religious, but the feelings of daddy in heaven are qualitatively different from the demands of an abstract God.

    but while Caucasians of all shades tend to overtly frame their morality in religious terms

    the word caucasian is retarded. please use european or white from now on.

  24. @spandrell
    Yes, indeed. A good case study would be the Mongol conversion to Tibetan Buddhism. It always mystified me how that ruthless race of warriors eventually become pious Buddhists. Early Manchu leaders noted how Mongols had lost their martial edge and were only worried with fancy clothes and virtue-signaling.

    Early Manchu leaders noted how Mongols had lost their martial edge and were only worried with fancy clothes and virtue-signaling.

    i’m assuming they’re talking about the khalkha. the oirat remained quite a military problem until the 18th century when they were crushed between russia and the manchus. the oirat were also buddhist by this time, so i’m skeptical of the pacific effect of buddhism (the manchu themselves were quite partial to this form of buddhism in their non-chinese guise).

  25. @spandrell
    Oh, I know plenty of people of all sorts, and I'm very well acquainted with literature of all ages, so I think I have a reasonably good picture.

    Of course the game of life is the same, but while Caucasians of all shades tend to overtly frame their morality in religious terms, Asians are quite more explicit about the real nature of the game. Girls must be chaste lest they lose out (吃亏), one should follow social norms lest your neighbors laugh at you (让人笑话), and "face" is quite obviously a game-theorical concept, while God and Sin isn't. A Chinese will openly ask you to "give him face", while a Westerner will never ask you to "make him look good". He'll frame it in more abstract terms. Of course the same shenanigans are going on, but the difference in wording is stark.

    Not saying Asians are immoral, just that they seem to understand that morality is a matter of social balance of forces, and not some supernatural "law". Of course the old idea of behaving well in order not to be ashamed to meet one's ancestors is somewhat religious, but the feelings of daddy in heaven are qualitatively different from the demands of an abstract God.

    A Chinese will openly ask you to “give him face”, while a Westerner will never ask you to “make him look good”. He’ll frame it in more abstract terms.

    i don’t really believe this. i don’t not believe it. i barely know how to evaluate what you’re saying.

  26. 1.- I said Caucasian to include Arabs and other very religious people. Maybe Indians too, though not very familiar with how religion influences Indian life. How should I call Whites+Middle Easterners? I thought the word Caucasian was meant to refer to exactly that. Which is why I added “of all shades”, to make clear I didn’t mean just whites.

    2.- Yes that was Nurhaci and Hongtaiji referring to the their Mongols. Khalkha, Khorchin and Chahar I guess. The Oirats were indeed more of a military force, and skilfully used the prestige of Tibetan lamas to assert their power over other Mongols. That’s why it would be interesting to see. Why were Eastern Mongols pacified by Buddhism, but not the Oirats? Or where the Oirats kinda meek too, which is why the Qing were able to crush them? It’s an interesting topic.

    3.- It’s completely normal in China to ask a favor to someone, and when you detect some reluctancy, say 给我点面子吧, “hey, give me some face”. That applies very widely, from asking someone to come to your party, to asking for huge sums of money. I’m not aware of any European culture where favors are asked in similar terms.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    1) say west eurasian.

    2) the oirat were not meek. the collusion of russia and the manchus + gunpowder finally did them in. (in their peregrinations west and east they ravaged the kazakhs). "Why were Eastern Mongols pacified by Buddhism, but not the Oirats?" i don't think it is buddhism, i think it is the fact that the genghiside royal lineages had gotten soft and entitled to a particular status. they were no longer parvenus.

    3) i'd be curious what others say. there' a lot of variation within european cultures.
    , @Bill M
    Would it be accurate to characterize Asian religion and morality as pagan, somewhat similar to pre-Christian paganism? It seems to be animistic, with multiple independent gods or spirits or forces and ancestral spirits, and relativistic. And the supernatural is less intermediated and not centralized into a single figure or doctrine.
  27. @spandrell
    1.- I said Caucasian to include Arabs and other very religious people. Maybe Indians too, though not very familiar with how religion influences Indian life. How should I call Whites+Middle Easterners? I thought the word Caucasian was meant to refer to exactly that. Which is why I added "of all shades", to make clear I didn't mean just whites.

    2.- Yes that was Nurhaci and Hongtaiji referring to the their Mongols. Khalkha, Khorchin and Chahar I guess. The Oirats were indeed more of a military force, and skilfully used the prestige of Tibetan lamas to assert their power over other Mongols. That's why it would be interesting to see. Why were Eastern Mongols pacified by Buddhism, but not the Oirats? Or where the Oirats kinda meek too, which is why the Qing were able to crush them? It's an interesting topic.

    3.- It's completely normal in China to ask a favor to someone, and when you detect some reluctancy, say 给我点面子吧, "hey, give me some face". That applies very widely, from asking someone to come to your party, to asking for huge sums of money. I'm not aware of any European culture where favors are asked in similar terms.

    1) say west eurasian.

    2) the oirat were not meek. the collusion of russia and the manchus + gunpowder finally did them in. (in their peregrinations west and east they ravaged the kazakhs). “Why were Eastern Mongols pacified by Buddhism, but not the Oirats?” i don’t think it is buddhism, i think it is the fact that the genghiside royal lineages had gotten soft and entitled to a particular status. they were no longer parvenus.

    3) i’d be curious what others say. there’ a lot of variation within european cultures.

    • Replies: @AG

    3) i’d be curious what others say. there’ a lot of variation within european cultures.
     
    Regarding

    给我点面子吧, “hey, give me some face”.
     
    I did not heard any one did that to me, neither I did that to any one else. But my anecdote might not be representative. By my nature, I would consider such request is shameless, lack of dignity. But that is me. On the other hand, I would not be surprised some Chinese did that.

    In western version, it would be something like "It is my greatest honor (face) to have you ..........................", "It is my pleasure to have you...........", I believe they are the same meaning. But some people who are determined to have negative bias against other culture would like to split hair.

    In my world, honor = face.
    , @spandrell
    Who did you read, Perdue?

    Probably Genghisids get soft, get into Buddhism to compensate, Lamas start requiring money and land, which doesn't exactly help military matters, and you got a religious feedback loop going on.

    In more granular terms, to the extent that "being a good Buddhist" implies spending money and pastureland on monasteries, then Buddhist piety must make you weak. But yes, the casual arrow probably goes the other way around.

    I got the impression that the Oirats were more opportunistic about the whole thing, using the Lamas when expedient, but never wasting money that could be put to better use in their war machine.
  28. @spandrell
    1.- I said Caucasian to include Arabs and other very religious people. Maybe Indians too, though not very familiar with how religion influences Indian life. How should I call Whites+Middle Easterners? I thought the word Caucasian was meant to refer to exactly that. Which is why I added "of all shades", to make clear I didn't mean just whites.

    2.- Yes that was Nurhaci and Hongtaiji referring to the their Mongols. Khalkha, Khorchin and Chahar I guess. The Oirats were indeed more of a military force, and skilfully used the prestige of Tibetan lamas to assert their power over other Mongols. That's why it would be interesting to see. Why were Eastern Mongols pacified by Buddhism, but not the Oirats? Or where the Oirats kinda meek too, which is why the Qing were able to crush them? It's an interesting topic.

    3.- It's completely normal in China to ask a favor to someone, and when you detect some reluctancy, say 给我点面子吧, "hey, give me some face". That applies very widely, from asking someone to come to your party, to asking for huge sums of money. I'm not aware of any European culture where favors are asked in similar terms.

    Would it be accurate to characterize Asian religion and morality as pagan, somewhat similar to pre-Christian paganism? It seems to be animistic, with multiple independent gods or spirits or forces and ancestral spirits, and relativistic. And the supernatural is less intermediated and not centralized into a single figure or doctrine.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Would it be accurate to characterize Asian religion and morality as pagan, somewhat similar to pre-Christian paganism?

    not really. or at least, not more than european peasant superstition (apples to apples comparisons).

    , @spandrell
    As Razib said, Asian religiosity is not quite pagan. No pantheon of Gods. No "swearing by Jupiter". No literature full with gods. Religion just wasn't a big part of the literate culture. And peasants are just peasants; they're afraid of the weather and bad fortune, and will pray to whoever makes the best pitch.

    Their morality is... human. You don't do bad things because you don't do bad things, because people would disapprove, laugh at you, refuse to do business with you and marry your children, even frame you and get the government to put you in jail. As for why exactly they'd react like that, well there's the classics, and the norms of our ancestors, but who cares, really? Bad things are bad because everybody thinks they are bad, and that's all you need to know in the end. So don't do bad things.
  29. @Razib Khan
    1) say west eurasian.

    2) the oirat were not meek. the collusion of russia and the manchus + gunpowder finally did them in. (in their peregrinations west and east they ravaged the kazakhs). "Why were Eastern Mongols pacified by Buddhism, but not the Oirats?" i don't think it is buddhism, i think it is the fact that the genghiside royal lineages had gotten soft and entitled to a particular status. they were no longer parvenus.

    3) i'd be curious what others say. there' a lot of variation within european cultures.

    3) i’d be curious what others say. there’ a lot of variation within european cultures.

    Regarding

    给我点面子吧, “hey, give me some face”.

    I did not heard any one did that to me, neither I did that to any one else. But my anecdote might not be representative. By my nature, I would consider such request is shameless, lack of dignity. But that is me. On the other hand, I would not be surprised some Chinese did that.

    In western version, it would be something like “It is my greatest honor (face) to have you ……………………..”, “It is my pleasure to have you………..”, I believe they are the same meaning. But some people who are determined to have negative bias against other culture would like to split hair.

    In my world, honor = face.

  30. @Bill M
    Would it be accurate to characterize Asian religion and morality as pagan, somewhat similar to pre-Christian paganism? It seems to be animistic, with multiple independent gods or spirits or forces and ancestral spirits, and relativistic. And the supernatural is less intermediated and not centralized into a single figure or doctrine.

    Would it be accurate to characterize Asian religion and morality as pagan, somewhat similar to pre-Christian paganism?

    not really. or at least, not more than european peasant superstition (apples to apples comparisons).

  31. There are a lot of bad translation between Chinese and English.

    For example, 文化 means either education or culture depending on the context. When used as level of 文化, mean level of education. When used in connection of culture background like American 文化 that means American culture.

    It is really ridiculous and laughable to translate some one 没文化 as lack of culture. Correct translation should be some lack of education. However, using 文化 instead of 教育 is for people in lower social class.

    面子 or face is another example, which can mean physical human face, or honor depending on the context. Low class Chinese people lack vocabulary using face in place of honor (荣耀). Highly educated Chinese people use honor 荣耀 instead of face 面子 for correct sentence.

    Obviously people with limited understanding of Chinese languages generalized their own experience of social underclass as whole. This is no difference to conclude red neck culture as entire American culture.

    This phenomena is not limited to westerners. Chinese underclass has similar generalization about West, especially American culture. Generalization is intellectual laziness (or simply lack of intelligence). Seeing thing in detail and individualistic analysis need a lot of mental powers which is luxury for social underclass. To connect dots and understand core nature of various presentation need higher mental power. Connecting dots are part of IQ test.

    But when bad translation occurs in major American journals (MSM), it only further diminished my respect for them.

    • Replies: @spandrell
    Where are you from exactly? Where do this honorable highly educated people dwell? Introduce them to me, I could use awesome friends like that. My Beijing University grad friends can't compare with that level of honorable sophistication.

    And given your English I'd rather not give lessons of good translations. Translation is hard. Accurate translation is by definition impossible if you don't have a good understanding of either culture.
  32. @Bill M
    I don't know if Dawkins's "survival machine" analogy is accurate. Physical bodies are survival machines for genes because genes fundamentally code for proteins. Religions are external memes that are independent of their individual members.

    Religions are external memes that are independent of their individual members.

    Cults like like the Shakers and Skoptsy could be said to be independent of the wellbeing of their believers. But I don’t think major religions could be. When we are up against it we instinctively want to be around friends, family, people like us or fellow believers. All those who will be willing to give us reciprocal help. Dawkins thinks religion is a virus that offers no real advantages to those who practice it. Well, when it offers no advantages it gets discarded, as Christianity is being discarded in the affluent west, but it is far from obvious that those communities will endure without religion. They seem to be heading for demographic ellipse.

    Nationalism is the same. The religious and/or patriotic communities are not rich. Gates and Zuckerberg ect announced they are going to be giving all their money away to the worlds poor, meanwhile they evade paying their national taxes

    • Replies: @Bill M
    On the other hand, Christianity is still subscribed to and even growing in other parts of the world. It's independent of its individual members. It's not a survival machine for its members. Its members are its survival machine.
  33. @Bill M
    Would it be accurate to characterize Asian religion and morality as pagan, somewhat similar to pre-Christian paganism? It seems to be animistic, with multiple independent gods or spirits or forces and ancestral spirits, and relativistic. And the supernatural is less intermediated and not centralized into a single figure or doctrine.

    As Razib said, Asian religiosity is not quite pagan. No pantheon of Gods. No “swearing by Jupiter”. No literature full with gods. Religion just wasn’t a big part of the literate culture. And peasants are just peasants; they’re afraid of the weather and bad fortune, and will pray to whoever makes the best pitch.

    Their morality is… human. You don’t do bad things because you don’t do bad things, because people would disapprove, laugh at you, refuse to do business with you and marry your children, even frame you and get the government to put you in jail. As for why exactly they’d react like that, well there’s the classics, and the norms of our ancestors, but who cares, really? Bad things are bad because everybody thinks they are bad, and that’s all you need to know in the end. So don’t do bad things.

    • Replies: @Bill M
    I suppose by "pagan" I mean in the general sense of believing whatever you want about the supernatural and holding whatever superstitions you want, rather than the relatively organized and codified paganism of the Classical Mediterranean.
  34. @spandrell
    As Razib said, Asian religiosity is not quite pagan. No pantheon of Gods. No "swearing by Jupiter". No literature full with gods. Religion just wasn't a big part of the literate culture. And peasants are just peasants; they're afraid of the weather and bad fortune, and will pray to whoever makes the best pitch.

    Their morality is... human. You don't do bad things because you don't do bad things, because people would disapprove, laugh at you, refuse to do business with you and marry your children, even frame you and get the government to put you in jail. As for why exactly they'd react like that, well there's the classics, and the norms of our ancestors, but who cares, really? Bad things are bad because everybody thinks they are bad, and that's all you need to know in the end. So don't do bad things.

    I suppose by “pagan” I mean in the general sense of believing whatever you want about the supernatural and holding whatever superstitions you want, rather than the relatively organized and codified paganism of the Classical Mediterranean.

  35. @AG
    There are a lot of bad translation between Chinese and English.

    For example, 文化 means either education or culture depending on the context. When used as level of 文化, mean level of education. When used in connection of culture background like American 文化 that means American culture.

    It is really ridiculous and laughable to translate some one 没文化 as lack of culture. Correct translation should be some lack of education. However, using 文化 instead of 教育 is for people in lower social class.

    面子 or face is another example, which can mean physical human face, or honor depending on the context. Low class Chinese people lack vocabulary using face in place of honor (荣耀). Highly educated Chinese people use honor 荣耀 instead of face 面子 for correct sentence.

    Obviously people with limited understanding of Chinese languages generalized their own experience of social underclass as whole. This is no difference to conclude red neck culture as entire American culture.

    This phenomena is not limited to westerners. Chinese underclass has similar generalization about West, especially American culture. Generalization is intellectual laziness (or simply lack of intelligence). Seeing thing in detail and individualistic analysis need a lot of mental powers which is luxury for social underclass. To connect dots and understand core nature of various presentation need higher mental power. Connecting dots are part of IQ test.

    But when bad translation occurs in major American journals (MSM), it only further diminished my respect for them.

    Where are you from exactly? Where do this honorable highly educated people dwell? Introduce them to me, I could use awesome friends like that. My Beijing University grad friends can’t compare with that level of honorable sophistication.

    And given your English I’d rather not give lessons of good translations. Translation is hard. Accurate translation is by definition impossible if you don’t have a good understanding of either culture.

  36. @Razib Khan
    1) say west eurasian.

    2) the oirat were not meek. the collusion of russia and the manchus + gunpowder finally did them in. (in their peregrinations west and east they ravaged the kazakhs). "Why were Eastern Mongols pacified by Buddhism, but not the Oirats?" i don't think it is buddhism, i think it is the fact that the genghiside royal lineages had gotten soft and entitled to a particular status. they were no longer parvenus.

    3) i'd be curious what others say. there' a lot of variation within european cultures.

    Who did you read, Perdue?

    Probably Genghisids get soft, get into Buddhism to compensate, Lamas start requiring money and land, which doesn’t exactly help military matters, and you got a religious feedback loop going on.

    In more granular terms, to the extent that “being a good Buddhist” implies spending money and pastureland on monasteries, then Buddhist piety must make you weak. But yes, the casual arrow probably goes the other way around.

    I got the impression that the Oirats were more opportunistic about the whole thing, using the Lamas when expedient, but never wasting money that could be put to better use in their war machine.

  37. @Sean

    Religions are external memes that are independent of their individual members.
     
    Cults like like the Shakers and Skoptsy could be said to be independent of the wellbeing of their believers. But I don't think major religions could be. When we are up against it we instinctively want to be around friends, family, people like us or fellow believers. All those who will be willing to give us reciprocal help. Dawkins thinks religion is a virus that offers no real advantages to those who practice it. Well, when it offers no advantages it gets discarded, as Christianity is being discarded in the affluent west, but it is far from obvious that those communities will endure without religion. They seem to be heading for demographic ellipse.

    Nationalism is the same. The religious and/or patriotic communities are not rich. Gates and Zuckerberg ect announced they are going to be giving all their money away to the worlds poor, meanwhile they evade paying their national taxes

    On the other hand, Christianity is still subscribed to and even growing in other parts of the world. It’s independent of its individual members. It’s not a survival machine for its members. Its members are its survival machine.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    . It’s not a survival machine for its members. Its members are its survival machine.

    there's some of both. but i think in most cases the latter is easier to justify/see (TFR for christians is lower in africa and korea than non-christians).
    , @Sean
    The Yezidi religion is not a survival machine in any sense, and I don't think it will be practiced very long in Germany by the Yezidi refugees living in a western welfare state. So where does that leave the Yezidi meme? The meme is a smile of the Cheshire cat concept.
  38. @Razib Khan
    Kahneman has his supporters he is in no way above or beyond Trump supporters or Christians’ level of objectivity.

    what are you talking about?

    But, after realizing this fact I became much more skeptical of the idea that “Christians are x because the Bible says….” or “Islam is x because the Koran says….” As per Kahneman’s scheme in Thinking, Fast and Slow, much of religious phenomena probably bubbles up from system 1, but the preoccupation of elite institutional religion is geared toward system 2 (not to go off on a current events tangent, but this might explain why so many notionally conservative Christians are willing to put their orthodoxy to the side and support Donald Trump, he appeals to their system 1 instincts).

    Kahneman’s primary academic opponent is Gerd Gigerenzer

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerd_Gigerenzer A critic of the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Gigerenzer argues that heuristics should not lead us to conceive of human thinking as riddled with irrational cognitive biases, but rather to conceive rationality as an adaptive tool that is not identical to the rules of formal logic or the probability calculus. He and his collaborators have theoretically and experimentally shown that many so-called cognitive fallacies are better understood as adaptive responses to a world of uncertainty – such as the conjunction fallacy, the base rate fallacy, and overconfidence […] Intellectually, Gigerenzer’s work is rooted in Herbert Simon’s work on satisficing (as opposed to maximizing) and on ecological and evolutionary views of cognition, where adaptive function and success is central, as opposed to logical structure and consistency, although the latter can be means towards function

    It’s true enough that conservative Christians using System 2-style conscious deliberation with the Bible or tenets of their faith a key criterion would not support Trump. But that does not mean Trump’s conservative Christian supporters are thinking atavistically. The essence of religion may be identifying with members of a symbolic group for reciprocal advantage, and conservative Christians may be using an adaptive function to correctly identify Trump as one of them in the way they did when they voted for Ronald Reagan, who rarely went to church.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    The essence of religion may be identifying with members of a symbolic group for reciprocal advantage

    that's the essence of religion. the essence of religion are supernatural intuitions. the group-level dynamics co-opt the intuitions. you need to be more concise and stop thinking out loud.
  39. @Sean

    But, after realizing this fact I became much more skeptical of the idea that “Christians are x because the Bible says….” or “Islam is x because the Koran says….” As per Kahneman’s scheme in Thinking, Fast and Slow, much of religious phenomena probably bubbles up from system 1, but the preoccupation of elite institutional religion is geared toward system 2 (not to go off on a current events tangent, but this might explain why so many notionally conservative Christians are willing to put their orthodoxy to the side and support Donald Trump, he appeals to their system 1 instincts).
     
    Kahneman’s primary academic opponent is Gerd Gigerenzer

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerd_Gigerenzer A critic of the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Gigerenzer argues that heuristics should not lead us to conceive of human thinking as riddled with irrational cognitive biases, but rather to conceive rationality as an adaptive tool that is not identical to the rules of formal logic or the probability calculus. He and his collaborators have theoretically and experimentally shown that many so-called cognitive fallacies are better understood as adaptive responses to a world of uncertainty - such as the conjunction fallacy, the base rate fallacy, and overconfidence [...] Intellectually, Gigerenzer's work is rooted in Herbert Simon’s work on satisficing (as opposed to maximizing) and on ecological and evolutionary views of cognition, where adaptive function and success is central, as opposed to logical structure and consistency, although the latter can be means towards function
     
    It's true enough that conservative Christians using System 2-style conscious deliberation with the Bible or tenets of their faith a key criterion would not support Trump. But that does not mean Trump's conservative Christian supporters are thinking atavistically. The essence of religion may be identifying with members of a symbolic group for reciprocal advantage, and conservative Christians may be using an adaptive function to correctly identify Trump as one of them in the way they did when they voted for Ronald Reagan, who rarely went to church.

    The essence of religion may be identifying with members of a symbolic group for reciprocal advantage

    that’s the essence of religion. the essence of religion are supernatural intuitions. the group-level dynamics co-opt the intuitions. you need to be more concise and stop thinking out loud.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    i like gigerenzer, but i think there's some narcissism of small differences going on with kahneman’s....
    , @Sean
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_of_Humanity

    There has been at least one secular religion, which seemed to work fairly well, for a while, without faith in supernatural forces .

    I wonder in what sense most people believed in the Christian religion's supernatural aspects that required faith (such as life after death). People committing murder seem to have been relatively common in medieval times, which is odd if the type 1 thinking masses back than truly, deeply, literally, believed they would be held to account by a moralistic punishing god who was watching all the time.

    The stakes are not that high to help someone you don't know, and you might make a useful friend or even more valuable, a widespread reputation as a helpful person, which will assist you to get on in life .
    , @aeolius
    [stop commenting on this blog. presumably you think you are brilliant, but i tend to think a lot of your comments are bullshitty and half the time i have no idea what you are trying to say. though perhaps you are a genius, you strike me as a pretentious and presumptuous fuck. good luck on that macarthur -Razib]
  40. @Razib Khan
    The essence of religion may be identifying with members of a symbolic group for reciprocal advantage

    that's the essence of religion. the essence of religion are supernatural intuitions. the group-level dynamics co-opt the intuitions. you need to be more concise and stop thinking out loud.

    i like gigerenzer, but i think there’s some narcissism of small differences going on with kahneman’s….

  41. @Bill M
    On the other hand, Christianity is still subscribed to and even growing in other parts of the world. It's independent of its individual members. It's not a survival machine for its members. Its members are its survival machine.

    . It’s not a survival machine for its members. Its members are its survival machine.

    there’s some of both. but i think in most cases the latter is easier to justify/see (TFR for christians is lower in africa and korea than non-christians).

  42. @Bill M
    On the other hand, Christianity is still subscribed to and even growing in other parts of the world. It's independent of its individual members. It's not a survival machine for its members. Its members are its survival machine.

    The Yezidi religion is not a survival machine in any sense, and I don’t think it will be practiced very long in Germany by the Yezidi refugees living in a western welfare state. So where does that leave the Yezidi meme? The meme is a smile of the Cheshire cat concept.

    • Replies: @Bill M
    I'm not sure what you're getting at. Memes can be symbiotic or virulent, and they can be replaced by other memes.
  43. @Razib Khan
    The essence of religion may be identifying with members of a symbolic group for reciprocal advantage

    that's the essence of religion. the essence of religion are supernatural intuitions. the group-level dynamics co-opt the intuitions. you need to be more concise and stop thinking out loud.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_of_Humanity

    There has been at least one secular religion, which seemed to work fairly well, for a while, without faith in supernatural forces .

    I wonder in what sense most people believed in the Christian religion’s supernatural aspects that required faith (such as life after death). People committing murder seem to have been relatively common in medieval times, which is odd if the type 1 thinking masses back than truly, deeply, literally, believed they would be held to account by a moralistic punishing god who was watching all the time.

    The stakes are not that high to help someone you don’t know, and you might make a useful friend or even more valuable, a widespread reputation as a helpful person, which will assist you to get on in life .

  44. @Sean
    The Yezidi religion is not a survival machine in any sense, and I don't think it will be practiced very long in Germany by the Yezidi refugees living in a western welfare state. So where does that leave the Yezidi meme? The meme is a smile of the Cheshire cat concept.

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Memes can be symbiotic or virulent, and they can be replaced by other memes.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    me too.
    , @Sean
    The Indo European religion replaced the farmers' by killing them. The successful religion (ie the Indo European murder and sexual enslavement wolf cult) is a symbiotic meme for IE population who used it it but not for those who got killed off. by the IE depredations. Religions like nations exist to compete against other groups IMO , and only in defeat can a religion be called virus like for those who subscribed to it. The competition between the Yezidi religion and ISIS's version of Islam has so far provided evidence that one works and the other gets you killed or raped.
  45. @Bill M
    I'm not sure what you're getting at. Memes can be symbiotic or virulent, and they can be replaced by other memes.

    me too.

  46. @Razib Khan
    The essence of religion may be identifying with members of a symbolic group for reciprocal advantage

    that's the essence of religion. the essence of religion are supernatural intuitions. the group-level dynamics co-opt the intuitions. you need to be more concise and stop thinking out loud.

    [stop commenting on this blog. presumably you think you are brilliant, but i tend to think a lot of your comments are bullshitty and half the time i have no idea what you are trying to say. though perhaps you are a genius, you strike me as a pretentious and presumptuous fuck. good luck on that macarthur -Razib]

  47. @Bill M
    I'm not sure what you're getting at. Memes can be symbiotic or virulent, and they can be replaced by other memes.

    The Indo European religion replaced the farmers’ by killing them. The successful religion (ie the Indo European murder and sexual enslavement wolf cult) is a symbiotic meme for IE population who used it it but not for those who got killed off. by the IE depredations. Religions like nations exist to compete against other groups IMO , and only in defeat can a religion be called virus like for those who subscribed to it. The competition between the Yezidi religion and ISIS’s version of Islam has so far provided evidence that one works and the other gets you killed or raped.

    • Replies: @Bill M
    The IE religion you describe no longer exists, and most Christians and Muslims are no longer Jewish or Arab like the early Christians and Arabs were.

    The virus analogy isn't used to suggest that memes are completely debilitating and deadly. Actual viruses themselves aren't necessarily debilitating and deadly. Herpes simplex, which many people have, just causes cold sores once in a while. The virus analogy refers to horizontal transfer.
  48. on a unrelated tangent, I know that the khalkha had been vassalized by the manchu, but why were the oirat and their kalmyk descendents such good fighters against kazakhs, nogai, crimeans, and north caucasians? Russian reports of the kalmyk basically consist of them victoriously raiding nearly everything around them. Was it something cultural or geographical(ie: the climate of dzungaria being extremely poor grazing land,)?

  49. Asian religion is, I guess, a lot of cultures over a lot of time. I can’t imagine Qing China being much like pre-Christian paganism. The beliefs of the Han Dynasty about the role of Heaven in morality (I’ve not studied these in detail, but vaguely recall lots of Chinese quotes banging on about not “offending Heaven”, “Heaven’s Mandate” as the guarantor of legitimacy for authority). In non-Chinese cultures, some early Asuka era Japanese might have believed that Amaterasu or whoever played a religious and moral role that a late Edo Japanese wouldn’t. Southeast Asia as a whole is highly religious, today and in the past. Korea apparently is today.

    With China as a long surviving civilization, it seems worth avoiding placing the whole of Asia (or Asia outside the India subcontinent) and across history under an umbrella defined by what early modern Chinese thought.

  50. @Sean
    The Indo European religion replaced the farmers' by killing them. The successful religion (ie the Indo European murder and sexual enslavement wolf cult) is a symbiotic meme for IE population who used it it but not for those who got killed off. by the IE depredations. Religions like nations exist to compete against other groups IMO , and only in defeat can a religion be called virus like for those who subscribed to it. The competition between the Yezidi religion and ISIS's version of Islam has so far provided evidence that one works and the other gets you killed or raped.

    The IE religion you describe no longer exists, and most Christians and Muslims are no longer Jewish or Arab like the early Christians and Arabs were.

    The virus analogy isn’t used to suggest that memes are completely debilitating and deadly. Actual viruses themselves aren’t necessarily debilitating and deadly. Herpes simplex, which many people have, just causes cold sores once in a while. The virus analogy refers to horizontal transfer.

    • Replies: @Sean
    Dawkins thinks he a a new Darwin with his memes but how are they selected ?

    All religions (and nations) behave like a pack of wolves to the extent they love on another because within group altruism is in effect a form of aggression against other groups, which are outcompeted. In the current ME imbroglio/ Syria war you cannot make sense of what is happening, eg the Saudis furiously complaining about the way the Arab minority in Iran is treated (even though it is mainly Shia) without taking nationality as well as religion into account.
  51. @Bill M
    The IE religion you describe no longer exists, and most Christians and Muslims are no longer Jewish or Arab like the early Christians and Arabs were.

    The virus analogy isn't used to suggest that memes are completely debilitating and deadly. Actual viruses themselves aren't necessarily debilitating and deadly. Herpes simplex, which many people have, just causes cold sores once in a while. The virus analogy refers to horizontal transfer.

    Dawkins thinks he a a new Darwin with his memes but how are they selected ?

    All religions (and nations) behave like a pack of wolves to the extent they love on another because within group altruism is in effect a form of aggression against other groups, which are outcompeted. In the current ME imbroglio/ Syria war you cannot make sense of what is happening, eg the Saudis furiously complaining about the way the Arab minority in Iran is treated (even though it is mainly Shia) without taking nationality as well as religion into account.

    • Replies: @Bill M
    I don't think Dawkins regards himself as another Darwin. You don't have to impute such motivations just because you disagree with him and are trying to argue against his ideas.

    I'm still not exactly sure what you're trying to say. If you reject the concept of the meme or don't think religions are or could be memetic, that's fine. Why not just say so?
  52. @Sean
    Dawkins thinks he a a new Darwin with his memes but how are they selected ?

    All religions (and nations) behave like a pack of wolves to the extent they love on another because within group altruism is in effect a form of aggression against other groups, which are outcompeted. In the current ME imbroglio/ Syria war you cannot make sense of what is happening, eg the Saudis furiously complaining about the way the Arab minority in Iran is treated (even though it is mainly Shia) without taking nationality as well as religion into account.

    I don’t think Dawkins regards himself as another Darwin. You don’t have to impute such motivations just because you disagree with him and are trying to argue against his ideas.

    I’m still not exactly sure what you’re trying to say. If you reject the concept of the meme or don’t think religions are or could be memetic, that’s fine. Why not just say so?

  53. Recall that historically atheists were held in suspicion because they were perceived to be unethical, and even today in the United States most Americans view atheists unfavorably. Though these results don’t say anything about atheism (it seems unlikely any of the respondents were atheists!), it does suggest that moralistic gods do nudge many people toward particular behaviors, so they logically infer that removing the god from the equation would result in the converse.

    Take the theology of AA for example

    We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
    Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

    Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him

    It it was created for a specific purpose, and it works. There is nothing about a moralising God in AA. The recognition that one is not “the captain of ones soul”, and subject to a power greater than one’s self is a key innovation, which someone came up with deliberately. Atheism is a doctrine about there being no higher power. According to the thrice-married Dawkins, atheism, (a belief) makes you a better person, and i suspect many atheists agree.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    and it works.

    no, it doesn't http://www.psmag.com/books-and-culture/75-years-alcoholics-anonymous-time-admit-problem-74268

    Atheism is a doctrine about there being no higher power.

    fucking use english correctly. atheism is the lack of belief in god. "higher power" is a vaguer and more general term, and can include atheistic groups which accept concepts like karma or the dao.

  54. @Sean

    Recall that historically atheists were held in suspicion because they were perceived to be unethical, and even today in the United States most Americans view atheists unfavorably. Though these results don’t say anything about atheism (it seems unlikely any of the respondents were atheists!), it does suggest that moralistic gods do nudge many people toward particular behaviors, so they logically infer that removing the god from the equation would result in the converse.
     
    Take the theology of AA for example

    We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
    Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

    Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him
     

    It it was created for a specific purpose, and it works. There is nothing about a moralising God in AA. The recognition that one is not "the captain of ones soul", and subject to a power greater than one's self is a key innovation, which someone came up with deliberately. Atheism is a doctrine about there being no higher power. According to the thrice-married Dawkins, atheism, (a belief) makes you a better person, and i suspect many atheists agree.

    and it works.

    no, it doesn’t http://www.psmag.com/books-and-culture/75-years-alcoholics-anonymous-time-admit-problem-74268

    Atheism is a doctrine about there being no higher power.

    fucking use english correctly. atheism is the lack of belief in god. “higher power” is a vaguer and more general term, and can include atheistic groups which accept concepts like karma or the dao.

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