Monday, September 26, 2011

News and Lots of Interesting Research on Reasoning

I haven't written here in a while, but lots going on.

I just spoke to the San Francisco Atheists on Saturday.  And I'll be talking to the SacFAN group on Thursday this week at the Carmichael Library, 6:30:  Is Atheism A Religion?

My publication date for Atheism and the Case Against Christ is July.

And I'll be speaking at a big event at Sacramento City College on Thursday, Nov. 10 from 2-4.  Details to follow.

Been thinking a lot about this study:  Motivated Sensitivity to Preference Inconsistent Information and other related research.  In a nutshell, testing shows how strong the tendency is to excessively critique new information that is inconsistent with preferences and to let preference consistent info slide by easy.  I can't imagine that this bias is more pronounced anywhere than with religious beliefs.  I'm looking for related research that focuses on the tendency with religious beliefs.

I am still thinking about this piece from Jonathan Baron:  Actively Open Minded Thinking and the arguments/points I made here:  The Defeasibility Test  and here:  Defense Lawyers for Jesus

Mercier and Sperber have published an important new argument here:  Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory  They maintain that reasoning did not develop primarily in order to improve knowledge and make better decisions, rather it is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade where social considerations between trustworthy and untrustworthy informers are important.

Nature has a related study this week:  The Evolution of Overconfidence where the authors argue that being more confident than your information or skills warrant was favored by evolution.  This thesis fits well with another important recent summary on misbelief:  The Evolution of Misbelief--Dennett and McKay  see esp. the section on religious belief and HADD.

It seems to me that all of these pieces help fill in some of the outline a good description of much of recent religious debate, and a plan for how to best to analyze much religious belief.