Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Religious children more selfish, not a good sign

Given the current problems with religious fundamentalists trying to influence school policies about uniforms and the way children are taught British values – for example the way  head teacher Neena Lall, of St Stephen’s state primary in east London, who tried to prevent children under the age of eight from wearing the hijab in class, was attacked by muslim fundamentalists, I thought it worth while updating and re-posting this from one of my other blogs two years ago.

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The idea that religious children might be more selfish  may seem counter-intuitive as you might expect people with strong religious beliefs to be “better” people.

However a study carried out by the University of Chicago of children around the world aged 5 to 12 found that children brought up in a religious families were more selfish than those from atheist or agnostic ones. And the more they went to their place of worship, be it church or mosque, the more selfish they were.

The study used a test of altruism and involved sharing stickers with anonymous children in their school. The idea was to test the notion that being religious has positive associations with self-control and moral behaviours. Jean Decety, the lead author of the study, says this view is so deeply embedded that in some countries e.g. the USA, not being religious can make you a morally suspect person.

While Jesus may have believed in the social benefits of sharing in this study it was the non-believers who demonstrated the principle not his followers. Furthermore muslim children were more likely to believe that when their peers transgressed they should receive more punitive punishments.

This research fits with earlier studies which showed that religious people were the most selfish. And the point in a colleague’s blog about not needing to be religious to have moral values seems borne out by this research.

Why should this be the case? One view is that it is due to what is called “moral licensing when people use something good to justify something bad” without realising what they are doing. Religious people believe they have done something good simply by being religious and this gives them the licence to do something bad.

Doing something which strengthens their positive self-image makes them less worried about the consequences of doing something immoral. Decety said “I hope people begin to understand that religion is not a guarantee for morality and that religion and morality are two different things. Societies that cultivate secular values are more peaceful and generally “healthier” than those countries which anchor or base their values in religion

Personally I don’t think we should have any faith schools as I believe they are divisive. And when the Chief Inspector of Schools Amanda Spielman is warning that religious extremists are using schools to narrow children’s horizons and “pervert education”, I think that supports my view. She said some community leaders see schools as vehicles to “indoctrinate impressionable minds” – with extremist ideology in some cases. This is really worrying as there is good evidence that religious societies are more violent and suffer more anti-social behaviour than more secular ones.

 

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Brexit makes us happier – official!

Yes, despite all the remoaners and the continued onslaught on Brexiteers by the BBC and others, official government figures from the ONS show that on three key measures we are happier than before the referendum!

Ipsos Mori asked three key questions as part of the ONS household personal well-being survey: How happy are you? How satisfied are you with life? and How worthwhile do you feel?

Not only did people score higher on all three but there was a 4% increase in people who felt very happy. And this despite the political uncertainty and terrorist attacks in Manchester and London. Shows how resilient we are.

There was however an increase in scores of anxiety and the results only apply to England. The Scots showed no change in their scores. Hard to please up there.

The researchers also asked if people thought they would be better off leaving the EU. Last October 26% said to would make no difference. In March that figure rose to 40%. The ONS thinks people are becoming more relaxed about Brexit.

Academic “remoaners” and the BBC take note!

Local data: In Burnley, Lancashire, they are happier than the national average and 10% happier than last year. Check out your own local scores here.


Saudi Arabian football team deliver incredible insult to Australian hosts!

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

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There are times when I despair at the attitude of muslims to non muslims and the culture of western countries. They will be the first to demand that WE respect THEIR culture but seem at times incapable of reciprocating. At the start of the recent Australia v Saudi Arabia football match in Australia the Saudi players ignored the minutes silence at the start of the match, held to pay respect to the London killings and in particular the fact that two of those who lost their lives were Australian nationals

Saudi Arabian football bosses have since issued an “unreserved” apology after their players failed to properly observe a minute’s silence in honour of London terror attack victims at the World Cup qualifier against the Socceroos in Adelaide.

When the stadium announcer called for a minute’s silence to honour the victims of last weekend’s attack, including Australian women Kirsty Boden and…

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Oxford University publishes list of micro-aggressions

In the latest snowflake newsletter from Oxford University students are warned to be aware of micro-aggressions by the university’s equality and diversity unit (an oxymoron if ever I heard one as you’re not allowed to express different views anymore).

So if you don’t look another student in the eye you might be guilty of racist behaviour. This is absolute poppycock. What about cultural differences where it’s considered inappropriate to look someone directly in the face? Or people who are shy, or introverts, or on the autistic spectrum?

And don’t ask a black or minority ethnic student where they are “originally” from. It might suggest you don’t believe they are British. Well they may not be and what if you are interested in knowing more about other cultures? Isn’t that why you go to university – to expand your mind?

And don’t joke about someone’s accent. Not even Geordie, black country (can we still call it that?) or scouse accents? (And didn’t Sir Lenny Henry make a living out of funny accents?)

The newsletter says that subtle everyday racism can appear trivial but “repeated micro-aggressions can be tiring and alienating (and can lead to mental ill-health”).

It says some people who do these things may be entirely well-meaning and would be mortified to realise they had caused offence. “But this is of little consequence if a possible effect of their words or actions is to suggest to people that may fulfil a negative stereotype or do not belong”. Or they might just think “get over it”.

The coordinator of the Free Speech Ranking project that highlights censorship on university campuses, called it ridiculous. “This is all part of a chilling desire on the part of university authorities to police not just opinions but everyday conversations between students. It’s not only deeply authoritarian, it has a chilling effect on how students interact with one another“.

The university defended the advice saying that “the equality and diversity unit works with university bodies to ensure that the university’s pursuit of excellence goes hand in hand with freedom from discrimination and equality of opportunity and the newsletter is one way of advising and supporting staff towards achieving these aims

What about freedom of speech and encouraging students to think for themselves? All this advice is tiring and irritating to those of us who live in the real world.

Update 28/4/17 from BBC website

Oxford University has apologised for saying that avoiding eye contact could be “everyday racism” after it was accused of discriminating against, and criticised for being “insensitive” to autistic people who can struggle making eye contact.

It said it had made a mistake and not taken disabilities into account. In a series of tweets, the university replied: “We made a mistake. Our newsletter was too brief to deal adequately and sensibly with the issue. “We are sorry that we took no account of other reasons for difference in eye contact and social interaction, including disability.

“Oxford deeply values and works hard to support students and staff with disabilities, including those with autism or social anxiety disorder.”

Some academics argued the guidance was “trivialising racism“. Emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent, Prof Frank Furedi, said the newsletter’s authors “need a reality check“.

It was basically a misguided PC argument put out by ill-informed people at what is supposed to be one of our top universities. Despair.


Religious belief not necessarily a good thing

My blogging colleague kindadukish recently posted about charity and religious beliefs. And the findings were perhaps counter-intuitive.

It reminded me that I posted a few years ago about how believers had bigger families and atheists were being out-bred but also about the correlation between religious belief and crime and anti-social behaviour.

So thought I’d extract part of that post (which you can read in full here) and reblog it as I think it’s worth knowing about.

So, generally you might be forgiven for thinking that the more religious societies or countries are, the more social benefits they enjoy. Not necessarily so. There is evidence that the more religious the society the more violent it is.

Research published in 2007 by social scientist Gregory Paul in the Journal of Religion and Society showed that: “religious belief can cause damage to a society contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity, and suicide.” The study also said that belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

This of course is the exact opposite of what many believers think viz that religious belief is socially beneficial and the “spiritual capital” helps to lower the rates of crime and other social ills.

Paul’s research concluded however that: “In general higher rates of belief and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion, in the prosperous democracies”.

The study concluded that America is the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates are still high and that the least devout nations were the least dysfuntional. As an example the rate of gonorrhoea in American adolescents is 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries.

The report also concluded that England, despite its problems, was actually performing a good deal better in most indicators even though it is a much less religious nation than America. There was an even greater difference between America and countries like France, Japan and Scandinavian countries.

Paul concludes that most Western nations would; “become more religious only if the theory of evolution could be overturned and the existence of God scientifically proven“. He also thought that the theory of evolution would never enjoy majority support in America unless there was a marked decline in religious belief.

If Blume’s research conclusions are correct (population growth bigger in religious families – see original post) that isn’t likely to happen. So bigger families for believers but a higher level of crime and other social ills. It sure makes it hard for non-believers!

A Californian sociologist called Phil Zuckerman published research in 2009 that showed that the more atheists or agnostics a free society has the more moral it becomes. Atheists were more tolerant supporters of women’s and gay rights than believers. People like the Pope, militant Muslims, orthodox Jews, and other fundamentalist groups don’t seem to view the world in the same way when it comes to human rights that we take for granted such as women being equal to men.

And a study in the 1990s of the American prison population found that only 0.2% (that’s two in every thousand) of them were atheists. Non-believers are more likely to indulge in under-age drinking and illicit drug use but the US states with the highest murder rates tend to be the most religious ones in the bible belt while the lowest murder rates are found in the least religious states like Vermont and Oregon.

Zuckerman also found that atheists and non-believers were better educated and less prejudiced and were more likely to encourage their children to think independently.

When it comes to aid-giving the most secular country in the world, Sweden, gives the highest proportion of its GDP. Of the top ten donors only America is a strongly religious country and oil-rich countries are nowhere near as generous preferring to export ideology rather than aid.

Primary Source: Nick Cohen in the Observer (12/9/10)


Cambridge snowflakes complaining about food

chef_stiring_pot_anim_500_wht_6703Have students nothing better to do than accuse a college chef of cultural appropriation or misrepresentation and micro-aggressions by (mis)naming food?

Among their targets at Pembroke College Cambridge are: Jamaican Stew, Chinese Chicken, Indian Fish pie, African stew with sweet potato, and a Tunisian rice dish.

Various students have complained that these dishes don’t exist in their home countries.

It started when a student posted on a Facebook page called Grudgebridge “Dear catering staff, stop mixing mango and beef and calling it Jamaican stew; it’s rude“. Not to be confused with “rude boys” presumably i.e. those wild Jamaican boys who like reggae and ska?

The complaints then built up citing the other dishes as micro-aggressions. There was only one student, an Indian, who suggested that the catering staff should at least be given credit for trying saying “I urge people to look around and realise there’s a lot more to life than complaining about fruity chicken“. Well said!

To which a black student complained about  being constantly invalidated when flagging up specific issues and claiming that micro-aggressions are a reality of everyday existence for people of colour. Well maybe if you are always looking for them.

Of course the college is leaning over backwards to appease the students and the college bursar said that the college encouraged catering staff to take the views of students seriously.

The current generation of students are a real timorous bunch who should be thinking hard about their futures and how employers will perceive all this petty PC behaviour.

Don’t the students realise that we have a habit of messing about with foreign cuisine here in the UK?