Notices
Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: Faith, memetic, genetic, how much?

  1. #1 Faith, memetic, genetic, how much? 
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vancouver, Wa
    Posts
    2,319
    As an open question, I think it would be interesting to discuss the human behavior of religious faith, and the extent of genetic and or memetic influence on such.
    How much does religious faith affect actual behavior?
    Do these behaviors have an effect on sexual selection?
    Is there neurophysiological variation between the more, and less, faithful?
    Is religious faith mostly a memetic phenomena with little correlation to neurophysiology?

    I tried searching for some P.E.T. and religion data, but didn't get anything really legit.
    Perhaps someone knows where to find a paper on such a study?


    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
    -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.-
    Cat's Cradle.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2 Re: Faith, memetic, genetic, how much? 
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    How much does religious faith affect actual behavior?
    This is rather challenging to answer, as human behavior is quite complex. I will say, however, that it very likely depends upon nature of the rituals which are reinforced by that faith. In short, the affect on behavior is likely to be more contingent upon the rituals practiced than on the faith itself.


    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    Do these behaviors have an effect on sexual selection?
    Yes. Just look at how many religious people would not marry or have intercourse with an atheist. Further, just look at how many people who would fail to secure a mate in general society are instead afforded one (whether by arrangement of the parents, availability from group membership, etc.) by their merely labeling themselves as part of a specific group or set of rituals.


    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    Is there neurophysiological variation between the more, and less, faithful?
    IIRC, it's not as clear as this. The areas of the brain active with faith are similarly active when meditating or engaging in other similar behaviors (like viewing a gorgeous canyon or waterfall). There are distinctions in the brain, but it's generally within the ways emotion impacts decisions, and the nature of the persons skepticism.

    There are a few studies which you can find by searching "brain god spot," like these:

    http://atheistempire.com/reference/brain/main.html
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...us-belief.html



    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    Is religious faith mostly a memetic phenomena with little correlation to neurophysiology?

    I tried searching for some P.E.T. and religion data, but didn't get anything really legit.
    Perhaps someone knows where to find a paper on such a study?
    You should check out the work of Andy Thompson. He lays out the case in a fairly robust way, incorporating aspects of attachment theory, social learning, and other aspects of the ways humans learn and think to explain why belief is so prevalent.

    http://vimeo.com/24710674


    An older one here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iMmvu9eMrg


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    I would have thought PET would be the wrong modality to explore the question; one would have to find a particular compound, active in the brain, that induces religiosity. May be true, but is there any putative compound? fMRI might be a better way of looking at it - i'm sure inow knows of some such study...
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    I'm not sure there is a "compound" as such. The reading I've done involves activity in specific areas.

    Not sure what gaps there may be, but it looks like some more is available here:

    http://www.npr.org/2010/12/15/132078...cience-collide
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurotheology
    http://discovermagazine.com/2006/dec/god-experiments


    And yes, fMRI is more likely to be used than PET.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...ryId=101617951
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vancouver, Wa
    Posts
    2,319
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    This is rather challenging to answer, as human behavior is quite complex. I will say, however, that it very likely depends upon nature of the rituals which are reinforced by that faith. In short, the affect on behavior is likely to be more contingent upon the rituals practiced than on the faith itself.
    Eminently reasonable, obvious even. A little bread and wine versus three hours of Shaolin jumping jacks. Perhaps I should replace the phrase "religious faith" with "religious practice"?
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Yes. Just look at how many religious people would not marry or have intercourse with an atheist. Further, just look at how many people who would fail to secure a mate in general society are instead afforded one (whether by arrangement of the parents, availability from group membership, etc.) by their merely labeling themselves as part of a specific group or set of rituals.
    What an inconvenient "yes" answer. How would one go about qualifying, much less quantifying, the effect of religious practice on sexual selection?

    As for the rest;
    I'm only marginally familiar with imaging technology. I was under the impression that PET gave better activity results. I'll need to follow the links and educate myself better.
    And of course I'm going to study the other links provided.
    Thanks all for participating.
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
    -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.-
    Cat's Cradle.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Yes. Just look at how many religious people would not marry or have intercourse with an atheist. Further, just look at how many people who would fail to secure a mate in general society are instead afforded one (whether by arrangement of the parents, availability from group membership, etc.) by their merely labeling themselves as part of a specific group or set of rituals.
    What an inconvenient "yes" answer. How would one go about qualifying, much less quantifying, the effect of religious practice on sexual selection?
    Get a large (LARGE!! HUGE... BIG!!!) enough sample and control for the confounding variables. Do the numbers look for trends. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    I'm only marginally familiar with imaging technology. I was under the impression that PET gave better activity results.
    Both certainly have a place. Depends on what you're looking at (note also the difference between fMRI and MRI).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_neuroimaging
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vancouver, Wa
    Posts
    2,319
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Get a large (LARGE!! HUGE... BIG!!!) enough sample and control for the confounding variables. Do the numbers look for trends. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
    In that case I am more than happy to make do with guesses and armchair quarterbacking.

    The vimeo link you gave to Andy Thompson pretty much covers it.
    Religiosity as a tertiary effect of cognitive adaptions for other primary purposes.

    So now, what about the ability of some humans to suppress the tendencies of cognitive adaptation, and to make judgments under uncertainty that are not based on bias or limited sample heuristics?
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
    -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.-
    Cat's Cradle.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    Faith certainly predicts sexual selection and behaviour. The capacity to "make a leap of faith" and keep it, is closely related to making and keeping a promise or a vow. I predict individuals who value rational decision over faith are more likely to divorce.

    You can't really trust the word of someone who says anything is possible. Would you want him for the father of your children?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Get a large (LARGE!! HUGE... BIG!!!) enough sample and control for the confounding variables. Do the numbers look for trends. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
    I'm not a fan of this methodology. By having such a massive sample size you are actually more likely to introduce confounding into the study, even if reducing statistical noise. Smaller studies which specifically focus on reducing the effects of confounding might give more accurate data - though seeing a statistical effect would be much more difficult.

    For instance, Pong has made a prediction which is, in theory, falsifiable. But we need to define 'individuals who value rational decision'. There are many ways we could do this, and the decision could influence the outcome measure. In larger studies, however, due to pragmatic constraints, data collection will likely be done based on existing stats - registry and census info - which are not sensitive to reasonably identify our group of interest. A larger sample will not correct for this sample bias. A smaller staudy may be able to actually ask people questions about their beliefs, grade them, and then follow people longitudinally. Far more intensive, but more accurate data.
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    I'm not a fan of this methodology. By having such a massive sample size you are actually more likely to introduce confounding into the study, even if reducing statistical noise.
    However, you would have more of EACH confounding variable, and hence can extract the effect caused by that confounding variable. When you have enough participants, you can see much more plainly which effects are correlated with the other variables, subtract that effect from your data, and hence have greater clarity and visibility into the metric being examined.

    It's about allowing the confounding factor to be more easily seen and hence removed from your conclusions. It's about having enough data to see if the conclusions you draw are, in fact, valid.

    I concede that in this case it's hard to answer the question GiantEvil posed, but I'm near certain you'll have more trustworthy data when using a large population of subjects as opposed to a small one given how many factors play a role in selection and mate choice.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    My example was poor: it was sample bias not confounding (though still relevant, not what i wanted to talk about).

    You would have more of numerous confounders, and unless you knew explicitly which variables would act as confounders and collected that data, you would not be able to statistically control for them.

    For instance divorce rates are no doubt influenced be many factors other than religiosity. How can we know whether any differences we see are due to religiosity or something like socio-economic status unless we actually measure this too. Add to this the plethora of other potential confounders we need to measure and the study burgeons. Large studies often short cut on these measurements - using people's surnames as proxies for ethnic origin, using postal code for SES and so while confounders have ostensibly been collected, there is plenty of residual confounding left. A smaller study, all else being equal, could better control for these confounders by collecting more data of confounders more accurately.

    Personally i'd trust a meta-analysis of a few small studies rather than a really large study for observational data.
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12 Re: Faith, memetic, genetic, how much? 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Montreal
    Posts
    2,256
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Yes. Just look at how many religious people would not marry or have intercourse with an atheist. Further, just look at how many people who would fail to secure a mate in general society are instead afforded one (whether by arrangement of the parents, availability from group membership, etc.) by their merely labeling themselves as part of a specific group or set of rituals.
    I'm sure it does have an effect, I certainly wouldn't date a devout Christian. On the other hand, if they were good looking enough and I didn't have to talk to them ever again... well I hear fundamentalist Christians have all the kinkiest bathroom sex.
    "I almost went to bed
    without remembering
    the four white violets
    I put in the button-hole
    of your green sweater

    and how i kissed you then
    and you kissed me
    shy as though I'd
    never been your lover "
    - Leonard Cohen
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    The school girl uniform is hot for good reason. Not sure what they have for choir boys, but I imagine it's similar.
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •