Latest Point of Inquiry: Accommodationism and the Psychology of Belief

By Chris Mooney | May 17, 2011 1:49 pm

I haven’t been able to post on this until now, but we did a special Point of Inquiry last week from my cabin on board the MSC Musica as it was docked in Venice–and to judge by downloads (18,000 so far), the episode is exceedingly popular. In it, I sit in the hot seat and Ron Lindsay, the head of CFI, grills me about my views on what is labeled “accommodationism” and also my acceptance of a Templeton Cambridge journalism fellowship. Later, we also go into detail about my Mother Jones piece on the science of why we deny science.

The response to the show is, typically, polarized. The more I study how we reason on contested issues, the less it surprises me that on this topic, the things I say become a Rorschach. (That includes this comment, by the way.)

Richard Dawkins himself (or whoever operates his feed) tweeted the show, and then Dawkins reposted a passage from Sam Harris, which Dawkins called “brilliant” and which takes Sheril Kirshenbaum and myself to task on “accommodationism.” We responded to Harris a long time ago; that response is here.

PZ Myers criticized the show; Josh Rosenau argued back; there and elsewhere, hundreds of comments have been generated. I agree with Rosenau, not surprisingly, but what I find more interesting is that PZ seems to accept the premise from which I’m now arguing:

…the problem revolves around a central argument for the Mooneyites: that harsh criticism of cherished beliefs, like religion, leads to an immediate, emotion-based shutdown of critical faculties by the target, and makes them refractory to rational evaluation of their ideas. To which I say, yeah, so? I agree with that. I know that happens. It’s what I expect to happen.

I’m glad we agree on this. PZ then goes on to argue that something else will happen in the longer term, which may be–but I’d like to know why we would think so. Here are his words:

What I’m interested in seeing happen is the development of a strong cadre of vocal atheists who will make a sustained argument, over the course of years or generations, who will keep pressing on the foolishness of faith. I also don’t mind seeing believers get angry and stomping off determined to prove I’m a colossal jackhole — that means they’re thinking, even if they’re disagreeing with me. At the very least, I hope that a few of them will realize, even if they don’t change their mind about the god nonsense, that quoting the Bible at me has no effect, and maybe some years down the road I won’t be hearing as many idiots telling me “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'” as if they’ve made a profound point.

The problem is, they’re not really “thinking” in the sense PZ means–there are reasons to believe they are responding automatically, emotionally, and then subsequently rationalizing. “Maybe some years down the road I won’t be hearing as many idiots telling me ‘The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God” as if they’ve made a profound point”–the problem is that it’s not a profound point to PZ or to me, but it is a profound point to many other people–and right or wrong, why do we think that is going to change?

I’m not saying it can’t change, by the way. Societies do change; US society is itself becoming more secular, although I doubt New Atheism is the reason. I’m just saying I have pretty good reasons for doubting there will be change in response to confrontational arguments among those for whom religion is a core of their identity. Maybe PZ will be more persuaded if I quote George Lakoff, from his book The Political Mind, p. 59:

One of the things cognitive science teaches us is that when people define their very identity by a worldview, or a narrative, or a mode of thought, they are unlikely to change–for the simple reason that it is physically part of their brain, and so many other aspects of their brain structure would also have to change; that change is highly unlikely.

Comments (29)

  1. The persuadable people aren’t the debaters on either side, they’re the uncommitted/less-committed people on the sidelines.

    The question is what’s the best approach to appeal to them. Or whether more than one approach is a good idea.

  2. Kirth Gersen

    Maybe it’s the third group of people, the ones you don’t mention, that the New Atheism is geared towards? I’m referring to the young people who are still making up their minds about what to believe. Yeah, the old entrenched fundamentalists will react exactly as you say. But if kids are raised in a world in which they can see that (at least to some extent) it’s culturally OK to say “science trumps superstition,” then statistically we’ll likely see a lot more of them accept that message than if they continue to grow up in a nation in which “religion is super-awesome and so wonderful that it trumps everything else” remains the only paradigm.

  3. Prof.Pedant

    “there are reasons to believe they are responding automatically, emotionally, and then subsequently rationalizing.”

    The thing that you and other accommodationists do not seem to grasp is that people need to do better than ‘responding automatically, emotionally, and then subsequently rationalizing’. They need to learn to think, and tolerating or accommodating their beliefs, prejudices, and assumptions, will not help them to learn to think. Furthermore, there is no reason that they cannot learn to think – we, as a species, are better than our emotional reactions, our preconceptions, and our deeply-held assumptions.

    There is a whole lot of work to do in this world, and people who limit their analyses to their comfort zones and their preconceptions are not able to fully participate in making the world a better place. Those comfort zones and preconceptions get in the way of those folks comprehending their own motivations and needs, which places the rest of us in the extremely uncomfortable and limiting position of having to make important decisions with fantasy inputs from the reality-challenged.

  4. Chris Mooney

    @3 of course we need to do better. But if you want people to do better, do you prime them by pushing their emotional buttons?

  5. Ewan Macdonald

    Listened to some of the podcast but had to shut it off around the quarter-hour mark for this reason:

    How can you, without checking yourself, go *immediately* from decrying gnus for not working off a solid evidence base based on an expensive study, and then defend your own views through “inference”, i.e. thinking that you’re correct without such a large-scale study?

    Either your expert communication skills have gone over my head (again) or it’s yet another example of the scorching hypocrisy for which you’re so famous.

  6. Prof.Pedant

    “But if you want people to do better, do you prime them by pushing their emotional buttons?”

    Yes. One of the things that folks who want to stick to their preconceptions need to learn is how to interact with others who think differently. They cannot do that without practice interacting with people who think differently and learning how to express themselves clearly and with an awareness of the actual facts of the situation.

    If someone asserts something that I find offensive (or untrue, etc.) I ask them for their evidence and why they make such statements. People who like to hold on to their preconceptions need to learn how to do that. They need to learn how to discern facts, and to understand the difference between what they want to be true and what is actually true. None of that will come to a person who is not challenged.

  7. Nullius in Verba

    “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” – Sometimes paraphrased “Science advances one funeral at a time.”

    Max Planck said that on the subject of scientific revolutions. It’s probably more generally applicable.

  8. 1985

    4. Chris Mooney Says:
    May 17th, 2011 at 6:40 pm
    @3 of course we need to do better. But if you want people to do better, do you prime them by pushing their emotional buttons?

    Do you prime them by doing nothing?

  9. Stephen Fretwell

    Almost two thousand years ago, theology was called the queen of the sciences. It earned this honor because theological ideas usually have serious consequences on scientific method and accepting new ideas. So, one’s scientific method needs to be quite sophisticated, if it is to succeed in evaluating theological hypotheses. The problems come from the hypothetical disinformation campaigns waged by putative “spiritual beings.” Evaluating ideas in a fascist community rift with propoganda, has similar problems.

    But the work of philosophers of science, which have brought us to a Bayesian, hypothetico-deductive method, have met this challenge. A strict adherence to Bayesian proceedures allows one to bring theological hypotheses to a plausibility level sufficiently high that the honest scientist (good luck finding one!) can hypothetically implement theologically required controls on possible disinformation, and proceed to test predictions from these hypotheses. These efforts, applied to biblical theology, prove the major tenets of that hypothesis are true, as the lawyers say, beyond reasonable doubt.

    And this thoeological hypothesis predicts that well intentioned but theologically naive efforts to persuade the “spiritually blind,” are futile. It is like trying to train a “zombie ant” to climb back into the canopy. Or getting a rabid dog to drink water.

    The committed atheist would be helpless before these pressures, and probably (p value greater than .999999…) is.

  10. AdamS

    @4

    Chris

    Do you prime people by indulging whatever fantasies they concoct to justify their emotional responses for fear of ‘pushing the buttons’ again?

    I notice you don’t take this approach with Climate Change, despite the evidence of the emotional baggage tied to the science by Conservatives, you’ve mentioned in blog posts.

    Shouldn’t we be telling people that “Yes, you can believe in global warming and still own three gas-guzzling SUVs, waste power and not pay a penny in extra taxes.” because to tell
    them the truth is to risk inciting an angry response that turns them into full-bore denialists?

    What makes the religion issue different? Never mind I think I know.

  11. This is funny to me. My understanding of these two approaches is thus:

    Accomadationism: Convince people over time to slowly develope an encompassing world view; instead of contradicting their beliefs, allow them to learn the value of others’ beliefs, permitting their potential antagonism to never manifest. This is a slow process, and individual.

    New Athiesm: convince people by telling them (or other people, publically) that their beliefs are wrong, and that only this other world view can be true. Evidence says effects of Gods can’t be true, therefore ignore them and act as though they weren’t true. This should leave only “science.”

    Let me know if I’m wrong, and maybe I can continue.

  12. Chris Mooney

    @11 That’s not what “accommodationism” is to my mind. I don’t like the term–but to my mind, it means many things.

    One of them is that a good strategy for science outreach on issues where there is religious resistance (e.g., evolution) is to team up with moderate religious believers, and scientists who are themselves religious, and use them as messengers.

    In the latest dialogue, it is also coming to mean looking at the psychology and neuroscience of why people resist changing their minds when confronted directly with threats to deeply held beliefs, and applying this research to persuasion and communication on matters involving science and religion.

  13. Chris Mooney

    @2 Keith–and that is exactly what is happening in the US right now. Americans are becoming more secular, especially among the young (millennials). I don’t think New Atheism is the cause though. See my interview with Barry Kosmin

    http://www.pointofinquiry.org/barry_kosmin_one_nation_losing_god/

  14. Sigmund

    Chris said:
    “One of them is that a good strategy for science outreach on issues where there is religious resistance (e.g., evolution) is to team up with moderate religious believers, and scientists who are themselves religious, and use them as messengers. ”
    The gnu atheist approach does not directly involve this tactic but is not opposed to it as part of an overall approach to promoting understanding of various scientific topics. If Francis Collins and Ken Miller help promote good science amongst the religious then good for them.
    I think the gnu approach is regarding the question of evidence for religious claims. The gnus think it is OK to question these claims whoever makes them, be it a fundamentalist opposed to modern science, or even a science friendly moderate religious ‘ally’ (like Collins or Miller).
    I doubt that many gnus think this approach works to deconvert significant numbers of the highly religious but it may, in the longer term, help create an atmosphere where younger people – who are not yet ‘fixed’ in their beliefs, are able to consider atheism as an option.
    By the way, while gnu atheism doesn’t convert many fundies from their religion the same is true for moderate religion – Biologos is one of the best funded advocacy sites around and they are having almost no effect on their target audience.

  15. 1985

    13. Chris Mooney Says:
    May 18th, 2011 at 8:16 am
    @2 Keith–and that is exactly what is happening in the US right now. Americans are becoming more secular, especially among the young (millennials). I don’t think New Atheism is the cause though. See my interview with Barry Kosmin

    Is accomodationism the cause? I highly doubt it

    You were asked in that PoI interview about the research you have in support of your claims and you said there isn’t any because there can’t be. That’s sort of true, but there is observational evidence that one can use to judge the effectiveness of the approach. I am not saying anything that you haven’t been told dozens of time but since you have not yet produced a satisfactory answer to this objection, I will repeat it – accomodationism has been the default approach for decades even though nobody called it that, and there has been no improvement as a result. The number of people rejecting evolution remains constant. Is this evidence for a successful strategy? I don’t think so. It isn’t evidence that New Atheism will work, but we can at least try because accomodationism will certainly not.

    The other major point where I think you fail to understand the situation is that this actually has very little to do with the teaching of evolution. You yourself like to cite the polls showing how if people have to choose between science and religion, they will choose religion, how their views on subjects are determined by their ideological positions, etc, etc. Nobody denies that, however others see this as the core of the problem while you don’t. People should absolutely never be putting religion and ideology first and facts and sound reasoning second. And it is very hard to change that and even the most hardcore scientists don’t achieve that level of rationality all of the time, but they at least do much better than the rest of the population which shows that it is possible to make progress (and it will be much more easier to do so in a society that is not under the grip of religion). Because you fail to see the root causes of the problem you advocate fighting the symptoms (and not even fighting them very hard) while never treating the disease (not just that, you are adamantly against treating the disease). We know how that ends up most of the time.

  16. Chris Mooney

    @15 I want to thank you for your thoughtful reply. A few comments:

    On research, my point is that no one (that I’m aware of) has specifically tested the impact of New Atheism on public opinion about science and religion in a serious social scientific format, like a nationally representative survey. I wasn’t saying it couldn’t be done, I’m saying that it would obviously be expensive to do. And I’m not aware of it having been done.

    That does *not* mean that we can’t refer to other research on how people respond when their core beliefs are deeply challenged, and apply it to this issue. That research is clearly relevant to the topic at hand, because religion is a deeply held belief and part of people’s identity.

    You write: “People should absolutely never be putting religion and ideology first and facts and sound reasoning second,” Well yeah, but this is like saying that people should absolutely never act according to human nature. Do you see that?

    I also am not sure that religion is the “root cause” of our problems; rather, I think that politics, ideology, religion, etc all can cause us to be biased and to “reason” incorrectly. Religion is one source of bias among many–a potent one, to be sure.

  17. Chris Mooney

    @14 “If Francis Collins and Ken Miller help promote good science amongst the religious then good for them.”

    That is great to hear. But you do realize that this was not always the approach to so-called “accommodationists”?

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/05/the_neville_chamberlain_school_of_evolut.php

  18. mcb

    As I mentioned on the CFI forum and my blog:

    I see strong parallels between the fight for the rights of the non-religious and other civil rights issues, most recently the ongoing struggle of the GLBT community. There are academic theorists and philosophers. There are angry protests and pride parades. There are closeted benefactors. There are enclaves, cities, states, parties, and professions where people find acceptance. There are good friends who honestly disagree. There are hotlines and gathering places for damaged souls. There are legal challenges. There are neighbors who are out. There are people who feel it is their right to out others. There are people who refuse to be defined by the issue. There are political activists. There are political alliances. There are positive examples in art. There are setbacks and successes. Both remain multi-generational works in progress.

    Are you agnostic, antitheist, atheist, bright, deist, determinist, freethinker, humanist, materialist, mechanist, methodological naturalist, nihilist, none, non-believer, non-theist, other, pantheist, philosophical naturalist, science blogger, science educator, scientist, secular, or skeptic? Which one is right? Who chooses the members of our club? Which tactic is appropriate? Which strategy best suits our long term interests? Who makes a greater contribution to the desired goal? Who chooses the goals?

    These are marathons. There are myriad paths to the finish lines. We need all the help we can get.

  19. I guess I have no “core” beliefs. Whenever science has uncovered a truth that denies a religious teaching, I’m okay with that. Likewise, whenever someone talks to me about their religion, I’m okay with that, too. Atheists, Agnostics, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc… I have friends in all those lines of belief. And that’s okay. We get along. We respect each other, as friends should.

    I understand countering people who believe that prayer is enough, and medical interventions are proof that your faith is weak. They need to be set right.

    I also understand telling people that the world will not end on May 21, and that it will likely not end for billions of years.

    And I understand telling people that they are not the end-all-be-all of all things, and that they should not live as if they’re not accountable for their actions, as if they’re just a blip in the big scheme of things.

    Stuff like that.

    What I don’t understand is the necessity to “engage” (read: antagonize) people on either side of the belief spectrum just because, without taking into account the individualities within the groups. Why do some Atheists need to tell ALL people who believe that they’re “delusional”?

    Likewise, why do some believers need to tell ALL Atheists that they’re “going to hell”?

    I think it’s because both sides see a mortal enemy in one another. Then again, I could be wrong… And that’s okay.

  20. 1985

    16. Chris Mooney Says:
    May 18th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
    That does *not* mean that we can’t refer to other research on how people respond when their core beliefs are deeply challenged, and apply it to this issue. That research is clearly relevant to the topic at hand, because religion is a deeply held belief and part of people’s identity.
    You write: “People should absolutely never be putting religion and ideology first and facts and sound reasoning second,” Well yeah, but this is like saying that people should absolutely never act according to human nature. Do you see that?

    I think that’s a fallacy – there are more than enough examples (although far less than I would have liked to see) of people who do not put religion and ideology first so I can’t accept equating it with human nature. The reason people do this is because religion and ideology are the dominant cultural paradigms under which they’ve been raised, and as it takes an enormous amount of effort and very special circumstances to overcome those and to teach someone how to think properly, it is no surprise that few people do. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done – I think it can very well be, but it has to start at a very early age.

    Yes, our species has all sort of cognitive deficiencies that make us susceptible to sloppy reasoning and superstition, but that’s why we have to actively fight them, not just resign ourselves to the fact. That’s what scientific training is supposed to be

    I also am not sure that religion is the “root cause” of our problems; rather, I think that politics, ideology, religion, etc all can cause us to be biased and to “reason” incorrectly. Religion is one source of bias among many–a potent one, to be sure.

    There’s some misunderstanding here. The “problem” I was referring to is the fact that religion and ideology have that kind of influence; they are the root cause of all sorts of other problems, but that’s not what I was referring to here. Which is where you and the new atheists (maybe not all of them, I am not sure how many of them see it this way) are talking past each other – you advocate not attacking religion because it is so important to people and instead focusing on keeping religion out of school and other such relatively minor battles, they want religion to lose its importance, which is a more fundamental issue, and which, if resolved, will automatically also solve the problem with creationism.

    Same thing with global warming – yes, it’s a very touchy issue because people see its implications as threatening concepts key to their identity. But that’s precisely the point – nothing is ever going to get done about it if those ideas are not dismantled and people’s thinking changed accordingly. And yes, in real life it’s unlikely to to happen, but it will most definitely never happen if we don’t confront that issue directly

  21. Nullius in Verba

    “I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.” Areopagitica.

    “Dust and heat” is what we seem to be talking about here. People do not turn their views around instantaneously. But over a period of years, with the issues debated publicly, the weight of argument does have a ponderous effect – even on the religious. The fact that creationists shifted tactics from outright Biblical literalism to ‘creation science’ is evidence of that.

    I think there is merit in trying to maintain a sympathetic understanding of one’s opponent, and remain open-minded to the possibility that some of their arguments have merit. At the least, if you can identify the root causes of their misunderstandings, you might have a better chance of addressing them. And simple abuse and hostility is not itself an argument. But at the same time there is no point in compromising on truth and the full strength of your arguments just for the sake of being nice, and not offending. You’re not going to win without offending people, or by holding back.

  22. Mike

    I find it ironic that those such as Myers and Dawkins, who claim to be evidence-based, suddenly become faith-based when they talk about communication strategy effectiveness. That is, instead of looking at the vast communications, neuroscience, and psychological literature, they dismiss it in favor of strategies that FEEL right to them. This is the same argument they would denounce if it were coming from a person of faith who, for example, just FEELS that Jesus is in their heart, or a conservative that just FEELS that abstinence-only sexual education programs should be effective, despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

    I think it would be more productive if instead of dividing people by categorizing them as accomodationalist (such a loaded term) vs. new atheists, we instead simply look at this as a communication and persuasion issue. Particularly for large secular organizations, if the goal is to communicate a message that will persuade people to change their deeply held beliefs, then would it not make the most sense to (as CM advocates), go to the research and to the experts to learn how best to do so? Why NOT go to those who are applying the scientific method to communication and persuasion? The Republicans are already benefiting from this by using Frank Luntz. Secularists go to Dawkins for evolutionary expertise, deGrasse Tyson for astrophysics expertise, why when it comes to communications and persuasion do secularists suddenly say they will use only personal experience evidence rather than consult an expert and/or the extant research literature??? Why don’t secularists more frequently turn to people such as Luntz, Lakoff (as Chris Mooney mentions), Matt Nisbet, and Robert Cialdini??

    By the way, I think that those that refuse to believe communication and psychological research unless it uses new-atheist strategy-specific research studies, are akin to a patient refusing cancer treatment until a study is conducted that tests the treatment’s effectiveness on a participant pool consisting of people IDENTICAL to the patient age, race, weight, hair color, daily sodium intake, etc. I think it makes the most sense to (as CM wrote above) look at the research on how to effectively change deeply held beliefs regardless of the precise topic of those beliefs. The important thing is to understand the mechanism and method of change, not the precise belief.

  23. 1985

    22. Mike Says:
    May 18th, 2011 at 9:34 pm
    I find it ironic that those such as Myers and Dawkins, who claim to be evidence-based, suddenly become faith-based when they talk about communication strategy effectiveness. That is, instead of looking at the vast communications, neuroscience, and psychological literature, they dismiss it in favor of strategies that FEEL right to them. This is the same argument they would denounce if it were coming from a person of faith who, for example, just FEELS that Jesus is in their heart, or a conservative that just FEELS that abstinence-only sexual education programs should be effective, despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

    Nobody is doing that. PZ said it himself in his post about the PoI interview – the vast communication and psychology literature focuses almost entirely on the short term responses while what we’re targeting here is the long term change. Surgery is traumatic and unpleasant, yet it’s for your long term benefit; it’s the same thing here.

    And the New Atheists are very much looking at the evidence – the evidence is that for many decades accomodationism has produced no results; whatever gains have been made are the result of general societal secularization due to other factors. And those gains have not been accompanied by similar gains in rational thinking – it has been a lot more moving away from Christianity into other sorts of woo than moving away from Christianity into a world of sound evidence-based reasoning.

    That’s in the US. If you look at other countries, you will see that places where historically there has been strong attacks against religion from the intellectual community like France and Sweden also have the highest number of people professing no belief in Gods, spirits or anything of the sort.

  24. Sigmund

    Chris said:
    “That is great to hear. But you do realize that this was not always the approach to so-called “accommodationists”?”
    You illustrated your point by linking to an article about Larry Moran discussing something that Richard Dawkins had said. But Larry and Dawkins, while often in agreement are also frequently on opposing sides of particular topics (in particular the scientific question of the significance of genetic drift versus adaptation in evolution).
    I think it is similar with the accomodationist/gnus question. It is possible to be in agreement with certain things that Ken Miller or Francis Collins says about certain topics while being critical of other things they say. One doesn’t have to completely take sides and defend everything your ally states. In any instance where Ken Miller sticks to science when talking about evolution he doesn’t (or at least he shouldn’t) get criticised by gnus. In any instance where he injects a non scientifically supported statement (such as in his science religion books) then it is fair game to criticise that point – in exactly the same way that it is fair for Larry Moran to criticise Richard Dawkins. Most gnus accept that there are certain limited types of religious beliefs (such as vague deism) that are ‘compatible’ with the scientific method. There are others, such as the more traditional theistic beliefs of Miller and Collins that are not. If they make a claim (which they do) that their religion is compatible with the scientific method then it is reasonable for the gnus to dispute it. That doesn’t mean that Miller or Collins cannot be good scientists but that they are making claims that we have a right to examine with a skeptical eye.

  25. M.

    Perhaps an analogy may help clear the waters.

    Not so long ago, a large chunk of the country believed – with great passion and conviction – that races should remain segregated, that African Americans are inferior and cannot be allowed to have the same rights as whites, etc, etc. You all know what I’m talking about.

    Now, this opinion has changed. Deeply held, identity related positions shifted over a period of a few decades, drastically. Therefore, such deeply held opinions CAN and DO change.

    The question is, which strategy worked to change that opinion?

    Did the rights workers meekly approach the KKK, and try to explain to them that yes, they are kind of right, but maybe they should reconsider some details…?

    Or did they gather and clearly yell into their faces “You are wrong, and you need to change, and you need to change now.”

    For extra credit, look at other shifts in major public identity positions in history, and ask the same questions.

  26. Mike

    1985 and M, I see your point, but you are arguing based on correlations and selectively at that. M, in your example, did the KKK members’ viewpoints change? I don’t think so. Also societal changes such as Brown vs. Board of Ed and resulting desegregation happened DESPITE people arguing and protesting against these things. Why is that? Frankly, you and I can only speculate as to which factors were likely to have been dominant influences. I would suggest we don’t go with what FEELS like the dominant causal factor and instead consider the multitude of factors simultaneously at work.

  27. Matthew Saunders

    Chris Mooney,

    Hmm, so that makes me think then can any of us ‘really’ think, taking George Lakoff’s views of metaphor being actual structures in the brain?

    Maybe this fits in with when you really pay attention to your thoughts and emotions, you find out that they are like weather, they aren’t permanent and they don’t seem to be controlled by an “I”, the “I” being a helpful illusion. Perhaps thoughts and emotions, just like weather, aren’t just internal events but also are external, influenced by processes like magnetic fields, what we ate, what we have learned, what our gender is, etc etc etc.

    So perhaps it would behoove us all to be educated in something like Buddhism, a science of the mind that teaches us to be more aware and mindful (lays down ‘aware’ and ‘mindfull’ pipes?)

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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