Friday, April 27, 2012

If this isn't Lake Woebegone then...

Why isn't anyone average?

There are a variety of re-reports and repostings of a study done at U of British Columbia that concludes people who are, in the sloppy parlance of popular press, more "analytically inclined" and less reliant on intuition are on average less likely to profess some religious faith.   But from a read of the article [pg 493 of the April 27 issue of Science] the "significance" of the evidence for analytic minds rejecting supernatural beliefs in five different test strategies, was stated in terms of statistical measures of the confidence in the averages, and based on samples as small as 100 persons.   This means that the only people who are going to "believe" the results are already the analytic and disbelieving subset of humans.  I guess I pride myself on my own analytic skills and objectivity and feel rather more comfortable with Buddhist perceptions of mind-in-universe than with any of the more dogmatic and myth-centered creeds.  But other than stroking the self confidence of the nerdy atheists, the reach of this article won't be great: its not written in a language the true believers can believe.

Much more interesting to me was the actual theory of mind that was applied: a kind of "you have both analytic and intuitive modes, one may be stronger in some folks", but either one can be attenuated or accentuated in its competition with the other by the conditions under which you use your mind to form and state some conclusion.

Maybe you should check out Joseph Campbell's Mythos lectures again? Campbell was above average.