Friday, October 23, 2009

Patternicity, agenticity, religion & paranoia

Dr Delicious wrote an awesome little thang on patternicity, a concept that is so obvious and yet has changed the way I look at the world. In a nutshell, people tend to find meaningful patterns in the random-ness of life.

If you live in the savanas in the tall grass, its a good thing to be alert when the grass moves. Maybe its the wind, sure, or maybe its a predator. Better to be alert even if there is no threat than to miss the threat and be lunch.

But sometimes people take the pattern-searching too far. This month's Psychology Today suggests...

Dopamine rewards us for noting patterns and finding meaning in sometimes-insignificant events. It's long been known that schizophrenics overproduce dopamine. "The earliest stages of delusion are characterized by an overabundance of meaningful coincidences," explain Paul D. Morrison and R.M. Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London. "Jumping to conclusions" is a common reasoning style among the paranoid, find Daniel Freeman and his colleagues, also at the Institute of Psychiatry.
Shermer has a mate to patternicity he calls agenticity, the tendency to believe that the world is controlled by invisible intentional agents. He goes on to say "Together patternicity and agenticity form the cognitive basis of shamanism, paganism, animism, polytheism, monotheism, and all modes of Old and New Age spiritualisms." I'd like to add creationism to his mess.
>>>An easy way to think of the pair is conspiracy theories: we see things happening around us, we look for patterns in the events, and then we look for a who or a what behind it.
Maybe its a coping mechanism. When something bad happens, we'd like to think it didn't just happen, that there was some cause, and someone is responsible. That not only makes sense from chaos -- a pattern -- but it also removes the burden of personal accountability, it's their fault!
>>>>>It all comes down to control: are you in charge, or is some external force?
Agenticity is the force behind leaps of faith. Why do people think its a smart move to pay a 'guru playing God' for the opportunity to sweat? What makes a man decide to run his own daughter down in a parking lot because she's become 'too western?' Or when people see the face of God in a restroom, when children think a man in a book has all the answers, or that wealth & status can create a Lucifer incarnate? They have made the choice to no longer be in charge.

When people decide to put their fate, or the fate of their loved ones into the hands of some external force, the external force -- real or imagined -- takes control. The guru's advice is more perfect than the person's, the father thinks more of pleasing his god than caring for his child, & the basic everyday reasoning skill that would tell a peron, "its just a book, its just a pattern, he's just a man" no longer matter.

It's their fault!

And it turns out dopamine is behind it all, just like in schizophrenics. Religious people are nuts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dumb is the New Black

I cannot believe how stupid the world is.

I cannot believe the Twitter "NO GOD" storm that errupted yesterday, when Christians, thinking they were spreading a mesage of love, inadvertantly made "NO GOD" a trending topic, and then acted like complete fools , furthering the cause they were attempting to squelch.

I cannot believe that, as Dr Dawkins said during his speech at UVa last Friday, that 40 percent of Americans (and 28 percent of Brits) agree with, according to a Gallup poll, the young-earth creationist view that the earth is less than 10,000 years old. Even harder to believe -- when I googled to see if I could confirm that number, a USA Today poll had an even higher percentage of adults believing existance was wished into being in 6 days.

And that's what it all comes down to: belief. Why do we believe what we do? Aren't we free to believe whatever we want, and if so, why is it a problem if people believe in creation myths?

Beliefs drive actions, and actions have consequences. Society drives on the actions of the individuals, and if the actions are based in beliefs that have no grounding in evidence or even reality, where does that leave our entire society?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday re-cap

The Simpsons take on Creation They're so cute. The best is when litte Todd (or is it Rod?) starts praying to the stork. That's how he came to be, right daddy? The stork brought him?

Ned says no, the Bible has the truth about how the world was created. But ho-leee, check out 4 things the Bible got wrong!!
Trust the Telegraph to get it right.

Its important to make sure tho, that you're reading the correct Bible. Apparently some are not Godly, they're actually Satanic.
Best thing to do is burn them.
On Halloween.
Yes, a church is going to burn Bibles on Halloween.

These are dangerous days... The wrong Bible can send you to hell, & too much education can be a bad thing. Check out the McDermott family, a Dugger-style litter of smiling dowdy Christians who publish
Salt magazine, & think education is a tool of Satan.
People like this make me think eugenics is a good idea. Seriously, you need a license to braid hair but anyone can make & raise a human, and be allowed to homeschool them and fill their brains with this type of schlock??? I pray for Armagedon. yes that was a joke.


Micheal Shermer is doing his delicious thing again... Does it make sense for an all powerful God to allow evil? Dr Shermer says no, and we all know... if it doesn't make sense, its probably because its NOT TRUE.

>>> bloggity<<<
Liza over at has a new bit up, Some Thoughts on Buddhism. I didn't read it. Something about the first line "I don’t know very much about Eastern Philosophy in general or about Buddhism in particular," made me think MAYBE LATER. I still throw her a mention because I like the premise for this blog (~~ahem~~) & Dr. Mohawk makes my dingle tingle.

I did spend a few minutes yesterday at and really enjoyed the extensive & varied list of posts.
In particular, I spent a while reading about the
evolution of morality,
a topic that I have been interested in since I started reading...

Yes that's my pet idiot thread, Creation Science is Real Science. I'm starting to become ashamed of how often I click over. Its like staring at a car crash, you just can't look away. I've decided tho, just as Dr Dawkins won't debate creationists as it gives too much attention to their cause, I will not give the creationist retard, aka CRETARD the pleasure of being able to google his name. From now on, he's a HUMDINGER.

Are you muslim? How tolerant are you? If you can watch this and not want to kill me, you pass the test.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday re-cap

GOD IS NOT THE CREATOR, claims academic

God showed up late and just kinda fiddled around with what was already here apparently. That's totally cool with me, as I'm way into the alien intervention idea anyway.

And even if the academic is wrong, God's still a bit of a sloppy bastard.

God, angered at the defamation,strikes back & launches a new bird...
"SEE? I'm still relevant I swear!!"
The creationists (pee their pants &) give the evolutionists a big NYAAAAH!!!

I've been following this thread with GLEE. Creationist Humber is a lying buffoon.
It gets juicy around page 7, but if you prefer, skip around. That's how Humber's logic works anyway, skips all over, comes to no resolution ever.

Micheal Shermer has a new blog on the topic of Micheal Moore's latest opus.

I've been into Shermer for a good year now, and my admiration for him hasn't waned a bit. If anything, I've developed quite a crush on him -- brains are HOTTT!!!!!! This guy is postively yummy. I think of him as
Dr Delicious!!!

PZ Myers, not all that delicious, probably boardering on inedible, is going to be talking with Barbara Haggarty on her NPR show(( Remember Ms H wrote a lovely book earlier this summer , Fingerprints of God, (( and one can only guess what she & PZ will have to chat about on Thursday.

BFF TIFF served beer at a charity event this past Saturday and finally posted pix.

uhh huh. ~gulp~ Its Breast Cancer Awareness month, so don't forget to feel your boobies!! Buy Tiff enough beers and maybe she'll let you feel hers.
I am still thinking about/ working on some thoughts about the moral & evolutionary value of LOVE. I'll share when they're crystalized.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It starts here

13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent beguiled me, and I ate."

It starts here, with the desire for the forbidden, the temptation of equality, and the knowledge of experiencing good & evil.