Sex, the cuddle chemical, and religion

Kate Stockly-Myerdirk Last week, Connor wrote about sex differences here. I happen to research one specific instance of sex difference: the fact that women tend to be more religious than men. Social scientists have come up with all sorts of unsatisfying theories for why this could be. Is it because women are socialized to be more submissive, gentle, and expressive, which are (apparently) religious values? Is it because church life is an extension of home and family life, in which… Read more

The Sam Harris backlash: is sex real?

We should be suspicious of sweeping claims about sex differences. But for there to be no differences at all, our minds would have to be independent of our bodies. This argument might be a kind of imperialism in its own right – an assault against the legitimacy of the body. Read more

Want a meaningful life? Stay away from rich countries

Countries with higher gross domestic products have higher suicide rates and less self-reported meaning in life than their poorer counterparts. Religion may be the reason why. Read more

Entheogens may expand possible brain interconnections

By releasing the everyday patterns of stable, internal coherence between different regions of the brain, psilocybin increases entropy in the brain. But as these stable patterns weaken, new patterns are allowed to emerge. Read more

Do we have free will when it comes to mental illness?

Mental illness arises from complex interactions between the self, the social environment, and our own behaviors and habits. We can’t control others, nor (for good or ill) do we have much control over our broader social world. But to an extent, we can control our habits. And habits matter. Read more

Mental illness: it’s not just in our brains.

Our idea that mental illness just “happens” is dangerous. It’s not your fault if you’re depressed or need drugs to feel okay. But we’re the world’s most social vertebrate species. Nothing in our lives arises only from the brain outward. Read more

Yes, fundamentalism is religion. And it starts wars.

The “no true Scotsman” fallacy is often used to claim that no real, believing Muslim could be a terrorist. But the war in northern Iraq is impossible to separate from fundamentalist Islam. Read more

Believing Impossible Stuff Is Dangerous. Except When It’s Awesome.

What happens when all children know to only accept plain facts, and to cannily dismiss all fictions? It would be the genocide of the imagination – no one would have enough imagination to ask the outlandish questions. And we’d never learn a thing about the world. Read more

Informal Study Finds Bloggers Can’t Tell Fact from Fiction

A study shared widely in the TwitFaceBlogosphere says that religious children can’t tell fact from fiction. This is why it’s wrong. Read more

Nerd culture, the new aristocracy

Nerd culture is a form of aristocracy. Try mentioning that you study religion in a room full of educated techies in Cambridge; the silence that falls over the room is thick enough to swim through. Read more

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