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Unread April 29th, 2008, 11:42 AM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Philadelphia area
Posts: 1,143
Talking Religiosity

posted 4/29/08
Failing to believe in something - e.g., "religiosity," - can suggest a difference in imposed (socially organized) and chosen environments (you came across an idea and it immediately nested with all else that you are). If I'm now talking mainly to a gene, then you may not be convinced of what I say. You may also be comfortable including it as an aspect of herding or of madness - the one option leaves out too much while suggesting that cows have religion, the second merely relabels the phenomenon while leaving it beyond explanation.

Please consider:

1) Genetic contributions to many essential traits increase as you get older. Thus, instead of smarter, we accumulate worlds that match our particular beliefs and instead of smarter with time, we get blinder.

2) Sagan (Sagan, C., 1995, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. NY: Random House) suggests, I believe, that about 40% of people believe in spirits and ghosts ... a gene or a culture? Given that our greatest environments are those we choose, then a gene may pull the strings on those who see ghosts or listen to the most popular show on radio, Coast to Coast.

3) Here are some studies: religiosity appears in some of them as a dependent variable, something to be measured, and in others studies as an independent variable, something that affects over things that you measure.

Bouchard TJ, McGue M, Lykken D, & Tellegen A (1999) Intrinsic and extrinsic religiousness: genetic and environmental influences and personality correlates. Twin Research. 2: 88–98.

Eaves L, Martin N, & Heath A. (1990) Religious affiliation in twins and their parents: Testing a model of cultural inheritance. Behavior Genetics, 20, 1-22.

Eaves LJ, Heath A, Martin N, Maesi H, Neale M, Kendler K, Kirk K, & Corey L (1999) Comparing the biological and cultural inheritance of personality and social attitudes in the Virginia 30,000 study of twins and their relatives. Twin Research. 2: 62–80.

Kendler KS, Gardner CO, & Prescott CA (1997) Religion, psychopathology, and substance use and abuse; a multimeasure epidemiologic study. Am J Psychiatry. 154:322–329.

Kendler KS, Liu XQ, Gardner CO, McCullough ME, Larson D, & Prescott CA (2003) Dimensions of religiosity and their relationship to lifetime psychiatric and substance use disorders. Am J. Psychiatry. 160:496-503.

Kirk KM, Eaves LJ, & Martin N (1999) Self-transcendence as a measure of spirituality in a sample of older Australian twins. Twin Research. 2:81-87.

Koenig Laura B, McGue M, Krueger RF, Bouchard TB (2007) Religiousness, Antisocial Behavior, and Altruism: Genetic and Environmental Mediation. Journal of Personality. 75 (2) , 265–290.

Martin NG, Eaves LJ, Heath AC, Jardine R, Feingold LM, & Eysenck HJ (1986) Transmission of social attitudes. Proceedings National Academy of Science, 83: 4364-4368.

Timberlake DS, Rhee S, Haberstick BC, Hopfer C, Eringer M, Lessem JM, Smolen A, & Hewitt JK (2006) The moderating effects of religiosity on the genetic and environmental determinants of smoking initiation. Nicotine Tobacco Research. 8(1): 123–133.

4) Give another look at Mackay C (1841/1980) Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. NY: Three Rivers Press, and, of course, Sagan's Candle in the Dark.

5) See the posting on Jeremiah Wright: it's fascinating!

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