Skepchick Quickies, 5.2


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. The religious one makes sense. Believers are sometime motivated by “supposedta”, when you don’t have “supposedta” you have to have other motivators. That doesn’t make non-believers more compassionate just that the motivation isn’t “supposedta”.

    1. This is almost certainly bad science reporting (the study hasn’t even been published yet, so they’re probably just publishing the press release as news,) and very likely bad science:

      -They did three studies, the first was reviewing an unrelated survey that found atheists + slightly religious were more likely to have compassionate attitudes compared to more highly religious people. They have good reasoning for lumping people together like that, or are they mining for a p value? Dunno, paper isn’t published.

      – One observed how much fake money people gave away after being primed emotionally relative to being primed logically. They don’t mention absolute levels of charity in the press release/article, and results using fake money are kind of notorious.

      – One studied college kids again using using fake money, and the combination of atheist + currently feeling more generous donated more than those who were religious. No mention on religious + generous.

      William Briggs had commentary on this: http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=5581

      As for generalizing from college students, or even white westerners to “everyone,” see: http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~henrich/pdfs/Weird_People_BBS_final02.pdf

  2. Not sure I’d be able to create a brogrammer environment in my office.

    It’d be hard for me to do my job if I constantly felt like I wanted to kick my employees in the teeth.

  3. I’m not a programmer, but I am an engineer, and I work with a lot of men. I seriously can’t imagine working in the kind of environment described in these start-ups.

  4. Good to see reason is as work in Oklahoma.

    On the article on religion and compassion, I see similar mindsets in my relatives.

    Despite being devout believers, they’re not very compassionate people. At least, not toward people that don’t share similar beliefs as they do.

  5. Hey guys, I would like to read some book on Rosalind Franklin, but dont know where to start. Could you please suggest me some? Thank you…

  6. Very disappointed at my fellow heathen.
    Religious people give more and more regularly than we do (about 30% more) . They don’t wait to be swayed by heartrending stories, but give all the time. It’s not that they are not compassionate, it’s that they are already giving!
    And the response from the nonreligious is: “Look, religious people are less compassionate, just as we always knew! We decline to give for morally superior reasons than those that drive them to give!”
    So in the real world who’s running more shelters, providing more meals, helping more people? The religious, that’s who.
    This should be seen as a challenge…don’t wait until you are driven by emotions, make giving a regular thing.

    And now this post, being Insufficiently hateful of believers, will draw massive flameage.

    1. Why would you expect to be flamed for pointing out a fact?

      Believers do give more, and non-believers should give more than they currently do, no argument. But the article was about the motivation for giving not the amount of giving.

      Pointing out that believers give more than non-believers is like pointing out that the US Post Office sends more letters than FedEx. This is true for a large number of reasons including habitual inertia, governmental subsidization, and the fact that a large percentage of mail is sent by governmental agencies, but none of these reasons tell you anything about how well USPS or FedEx do their job. Much the same way that a large percentage of shelters, food banks, and charities have religious affiliations and any gift to those orginizations will be considered religious regardless of the beliefs of the giver.

      Believers also give much of their charity to their churches, a good amount of which goes to overhead for the chuch itself and therefore helps very few individuals. That and the compulsory nature of in-church giving means believers are bound to give more but again says nothing of the motivations. I belive that if non-believers had a weekly meeting to which they were culturally pressured to attend and at which they were asked to give (sometimes twice) the amounts of charitable giving between belivers and non-believers would be much more even if not reversed.

      Having said all that, we (as non-believers) need to give more.

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