Disclaimer: this post is NOT about the events in Paris. I’m still moiling over that, and will post one with a law enforcement perspective in a week or so.
Instead, behind all the media-noise, I found this little gem: a study by the University of Chicago published 5 November, which shows religious children are less altruistic and harsher in their punitive tendencies than non-religious children. Selfish and mean. While I’m no expert at interpreting 3D scatterplots, the results validate my lived experience of not only religious children but the adults they grow up to be, the obvious maxim being: “give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” Here are some scientific-looking graphs from the study to give this post a misleading air of academic credibility:
As it is, infinitely more interesting than the study itself (here) are the attacks by raging theists in response to the publication. The rank hypocrisy of these people, who attack not only the scientific methodology and rigour of the findings (which is fair) but level personal attacks against the researchers themselves, only undermine themselves. What I see in this study is a missed opportunity for a quantitative analysis of religious intolerance. Because every religion holds that it has a monopoly on the truth (my god is real, whereas you worship a false idol) how is Christianity, for example, not a form of autism?
I love the lone comment criticising the researchers for sampling children from religious families in Chicago: “picking a place that is known for crime and poverty is really poor science … no one that lives there is altruistic regardless of religion” unquote. According to this mental giant, the study fails because all Chicagoans are selfish bastards! No wonder the median home value in The Big Onion is less than $200K. But I describe this as a ‘hook’ for me, because I am 40,000 words into a novella set in Chicago, and now I am worried because some of my characters are not assholes! I will have to fix this in the edit. Even more troubling, there appears to be evidence of cross-species transmission:
In summary, if it’s okay for otherwise rational people to believe in an invisible totipotent deity without ever having to substantiate that belief (contrary to every other evidentiary requirement of human existence) then I also reserve my right to argue that the problem with squirrels in Chicago is not a natural lack of altruism, but the selfish bastardry they have become infected with by living so close to Christians.