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Beliefs of polemical people

Beliefs of polemical people


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Are there studies on the beliefs of polemical people?

Has anyone tried to classify the most common beliefs behind the automatic thoughts of polemical people?


Special Issue: Psychology, religion and spirituality

In January 2002 The Psychologist published a masterly review article by the late distinguished social psychologist Michael Argyle, entitled ‘State of the art: Religion’. Nine years later, following the events of 7 July 2005 and the rise of ‘new atheism’, religion and the related concept of spirituality have become more prominent in public consciousness. There are now more British psychologists involved in the study of religion, as researchers, teachers or practitioners. It is therefore timely that the field is reviewed, this time by several writers in this single issue of The Psychologist.

Religion, if nothing else, is a profoundly human phenomenon, and therefore amenable to study by psychologists. In his 2002 article for The Psychologist, Michael Argyle proposed treating religious faith as an attitude – something with cognitive, behavioural and emotional components, and he strongly emphasised the social dimension of all of these. In the last five years one aspect of religious cognition – belief in God – has come under unparalleled scrutiny (Wolf, 2006). In his 2006 polemical book The God Delusion Richard Dawkins questioned why intelligent human beings persist in holding beliefs that are seemingly irrational or inconsistent with empirical evidence.

As any cognitive therapist will recognise, this is at its heart a psychological question, and Dawkins indeed draws heavily on the relatively new field of cognitive science of religion (see the article by Justin Barrett and Emily Reed Burdett on p.252) to inform his answer. The ensuing debate continues to fascinate and divide public opinion. Psychologists have the potential to make a positive contribution to this debate by clarifying some of the basic conceptual assumptions, carrying out good empirical research, disseminating it effectively and, perhaps most of all, by ensuring that it is interpreted appropriately on all sides.

Turning to religious behaviour, it is regrettable but understandable that religious violence, including hate crimes against religious groups, has captured the attention of the press and government agencies. It was in this context that the AHRC/ESRC ‘Religion and Society Programme’ was launched in 2007. This initiative supports interdisciplinary research in the arts, humanities and social sciences aimed at better understanding the complexities of interaction between belief, culture and society, with a view to informing social policy in this area. In its first phase alone it was responsible for over £3 million of research funding, supporting projects in sociology, education, anthropology and geography, which examined prosocial as well as troubling aspects of religious faith. Psychology barely features among the funded projects, perhaps because psychology of religion has such a low public profile in Britain. (There is a promising psychological literature on religious fundamentalism and the separate phenomenon of religious violence, but it is largely American see, for instance Ginges et al., 2009 Hood et al., 2005 Jones, 2008).

What of religious emotion? This seems increasingly identified with the phenomenon of ‘spirituality’. Spirituality is often contrasted with religion (e.g. Koenig et al., 2001), with the former usually thought to be more individualist than collectivist more emotion-focused than practice-focused more inwardly than outwardly directed more informal than highly structured, with self-actualisation more important than sacrificial demands and duties and more anti-authoritarian than religion is.

All the great faith traditions incorporate spiritual practises aimed at feeding the inner life, and many find this separation of spirituality from religion objectionable (Pargament, 1999). On the other hand people in Western society are developing a well-documented tendency to describe themselves as ‘spiritual-but-not-religious.’ Results of a recent cross-cultural study indicate that 40 per cent of American respondents and 20 per cent of German respondents fall into this group, which includes atheists (Csof et al., 2009). This seems to be a postmodern phenomenon involving the privatisation and individualisation of certain aspects of religion, particularly altered states of consciousness. These are valued as means of enabling self-transcendence and supporting personal growth.

Psychologists are no exceptions to this social trend. As a group we are famed for our low levels of religious beliefs and affiliation (Ecklund & Scheitle, 2007). Yet in recent years there has been an explosion of our interest in meditation techniques, particularly ‘mindfulness’, as a therapeutic resource, to the extent that it is beginning to feel somewhat like a panacea. In 1997 the creation of the Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society established a home for the growing numbers of psychologists interested in the ‘inner life’ aspects of human spirituality.

In 2002, at the time Argyle was surveying the field of psychology of religion, the first meeting of the European Network of Positive Psychology was taking place at Winchester, rapidly followed by a special issue of The Psychologist devoted to this emerging area, which has since grown exponentially. Positive psychology has an extremely close relationship with the psychology of religion and spirituality, for both are concerned with personal growth and meaning. As if to demonstrate this, Argyle himself had an interest in both areas, publishing his book The Psychology of Happiness in 1986, long before the term ‘positive psychology’ was coined.

Positive psychology, which is influenced by Aristotelian ethics, concentrates on those aspects of human behaviour that are thought to contribute to personal and community flourishing. These are conceived of as universal character strengths or habits, such as integrity, forgiveness, kindness and gratitude (Peterson, 2006). Crucially, these character strengths were originally identified with reference to the virtues espoused by the great faith traditions of the world. Positive psychology talks of these faith traditions with respect, but essentially understands them as womb-like receptacles that have housed and nurtured character strengths, and may now be ready to give them up to the world. Positive psychology thus has a definite ‘spiritual-but-not religious’ feel.

As a psychologist interested in both religion and spirituality, I have very much welcomed the increasing recognition of the importance of consciousness in British psychology and the worldwide development of positive psychology. However, I have also wondered if the focus on spiritualities shorn of their religious roots does not pose a danger to the life of these very spiritualities. A wild rose that works in the chaos of a thorny hedgerow may wilt when plucked and put in a vase on the mantelpiece. The solution then is to breed the sort of rose that will survive in the new environment, preferably without thorns – to turn the rose into a user-friendly commodity. This new specimen is perhaps still recognisably a rose, but much has been lost in the process.

This is a theme that I was able to explore at more length when delivering the inaugural Michael Argyle Public Lecture on Psychology and Religion in Oxford in 2008. The lecture came at the end of a one-day conference for British psychologists working in the areas of religion and religious spirituality. Following on from a first meeting in 2006, a ‘Psychology and Religion UK’ network had been set up, and it was clear that much exciting work is taking place in the areas of research, teaching and practice, some of it showcased in the articles in this special issue of The Psychologist. Nevertheless the group identified some considerable challenges:

- Credibility: Psychologists who work in the area of religion feel that this area is not always taken seriously by their psychological colleagues.
- Centrality: Religion is often treated as a peripheral specialist area of interest that is not central to human life.
- Trustworthiness: Psychologists who study religion may be suspected of having a hidden agenda of trying to make converts.
- Religious diversity: Despite some recent advances, much more work needs to be done with non-Christian faith traditions.
- Identity: The majority of academic psychologists who study religion are employed in university religious studies of theology departments. These psychologists have to work hard to connect with ‘mainstream’ psychology.
- Career advancement: Obtaining funding for psychological projects related to religion is extremely challenging. There are very few academic posts available, and choosing to do a psychology PhD
on religion is perceived as risky.
- Methodological and conceptual conservatism: Postmodern perspectives have yet to be fully exploited in the psychological study of religion.

None of these challenges was seen as insuperable. Indeed, their identification has provided a useful agenda for the further development of the psychological study of religion in Britain. As part of this, closer links with the related-but-distinct enterprises of positive psychology and consciousness studies are to be encouraged.

As might be expected in a more religious culture, the situation in the USA is rather different from that in Britain. The APA Division 36 ‘Psychology of religion’ has been established for over 30 years. This may in part be attributable to the fact that the founding father of modern American mainstream psychology, William James, had an intellectual fascination with religion, while remaining personally agnostic. His systematic studies are described in the Gifford Lectures of 1901–02, written up as The Varieties of Religious Experience. In this highly readable book James identifies with amazing prescience the questions that still exercise psychologists who study religion today:

- What is the relationship between institutionalised religion and personal spirituality?
- What is the difference between functional religion and dysfunctional religion (what James calls the ‘healthy minded’ and the ‘sick soul’)?
- How can empirical psychologists avoid philosophical reductionism (what James calls ‘medical materialism’) in their study of religion?
- Is religion an area of human behaviour just like any other that can be studied with the usual methods and theories, or does it require a special approach?
- Should we be talking about universal religion or local religions or both?

As I struggle with these compelling issues in my work, my answer to the question ‘Why study religion?’ becomes clear: because it’s relevant to urgent questions facing society because without it we have an impoverished understanding of human spirituality but most of all, like Mount Everest, simply because it’s there.

Joanna Collicutt is at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, and Heythrop College, University of London [email protected]


What Psychology Teaches Us About Moral and Political Divides

R ight after John Kerry’s devastating loss to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election, Bill Clinton told the Financial Times that the Kerry campaign had failed to engage voters on “values” issues, that middle Americans saw the party as “two-dimensional aliens.”

“If you let people believe that your party doesn’t believe in faith or family, doesn’t believe in work and freedom—that’s our fault,” he said.

Clinton’s remarks highlighted a panic that occasionally descends on the American Left—one that peaked rather spectacularly after Kerry’s flameout: What if there’s something we simply don’t get about conservatives, something that will render useless all of our best-laid plans to win them over with our clearly superior logic and understanding?

In The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt confirms all of the Left’s biggest fears. Yes, there is something liberals simply don’t get about conservatives. There are a few things, actually.

The book can be seen as divided into two parts: a large, expansive exploration of the roots of our morality, how morality connects to group dynamics and evolutionary adaptations, and the many ways in which we are not as coolly rational as we’d like to think we are. Then, toward the end, there is a shorter, less convincing section in which Haidt attempts to apply the book’s many insights to contemporary politics and policy.

Key to all of this is Moral Foundations Theory (MFT), developed by Haidt and some of his likeminded colleagues. (Their website, YourMorals.org, provides an excellent, interactive introduction.) On a psychological level, argues MFT, there isn’t one thing called “morality.” Rather, morality emerges out of mental modules that have evolved to deal with six different concerns: care/harm, liberty/oppression, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation. The key insight here—and the idea that makes MFT so powerful—is that each of us is attuned differently along these six dimensions.

Through their empirical research, Haidt and his colleagues have uncovered the moral underpinnings of America’s most well-represented political ideologies. American liberals tend to be primarily concerned with care/harm, followed by liberty/oppression, followed by fairness/cheating, with the other three concerns getting scraps at best. Social conservatives, on the other hand, care about all six concerns approximately equally. And it’s easy to go finer-grained here, too: libertarians, for example, care most about liberty/oppression and second-most about fairness/cheating. The other four are tied for last place.

One thing Haidt and his colleagues discovered is that conservatives tend to have a broader set of moral concerns than liberals. Liberals have trouble getting out of their cozy world of three core dimensions of morality. When Haidt and his colleagues asked conservatives to fake liberal responses to the questions posed on YourMorals.org, and vice-versa, they found that liberals couldn’t pull it off—they had much more trouble stepping inside the heads of their ideological opponents than did their right-leaning friends.

Haidt and his colleagues have spent years exploring MFT in experimental settings and online at YourMorals.org. Some of the most memorable parts of the book come when Haidt relates these experiments, which typically consist of an unfortunate subject faced with some rather icky questions: Would it be wrong to have sex with a chicken? To eat the family dog after something killed it? For two siblings to have sex?

Fascinatingly, even when these vignettes are carefully and artfully written to avoid any victimization, subjects highly attuned to the concerns the experiment is designed to elicit (sanctity/degradation in the case of the above three, for example) will try to invent a victim. As Haidt writes:

I had trained my interviewers to correct people gently when they made claims that contradicted the text of the story. For example, if someone said, “It’s wrong to cut up the [American] flag because a neighbor might see her do it, and he might be offended,” the interviewer replied, “Well, it says here in the story that nobody saw her do it. So would you still say it was wrong for her to cut up her flag?” Yet even when subjects recognized that their victim claims were bogus, they refused to say that the act was OK. Instead, they kept searching for another victim. They said things like “I know it’s wrong, but I just can’t think of a reason why.” They seemed to be morally dumbfounded—rendered speechless by their inability to explain verbally what they knew intuitively.

This theme comes up over and over throughout the book: our moral rationalizations are window dressing. Haidt’s experiments, and reams of other psychological research, suggest that for the most part our moral ideas emerge from gut-level reactions, not carefully reasoned thought. But once we’ve had such a gut reaction, it wouldn’t do to simply throw up one’s hands and say, “I don’t know why I believe it, but it’s true” (as some of Haidt’s subjects were forced to do when they were starved of other options). Instead, we weave stories that back up our claims.

The Righteous Mind is a fascinating read, and it’s hard to do it justice in a single review because of how much ground is covered. By his final chapter, Haidt has written what feels like a dozen dissertations worth of research on psychology, evolutionary theory, and moral philosophy.

That’s why the last chapter is disappointing. This is where Haidt tries to latch his ideas onto the present day, to make an argument for moral ecumenism in our highly polarized political environment, and he doesn’t quite pull it off.

At one point, Haidt asks us to imagine communes with 25 adults “who knew, liked, and trusted one another,” ones where the shared beliefs and values of the members of each were known and publicly posted.

A commune that valued self-expression over conformity and that prized the virtue of tolerance over the virtue of loyalty might be more attractive to outsiders, and this could indeed be an advantage in recruiting new members, but it would have lower moral capital—“the resources that sustain a moral community,” as he explains elsewhere—than a commune that valued conformity and loyalty. The stricter commune would be better able to suppress or regulate selfishness, and would therefore be more likely to endure. As Haidt puts it:

Moral communities are fragile things, hard to build and easy to destroy. When we think about very large communities such as nations, the challenge is extraordinary and the threat of moral entropy is intense. There is not a big margin for error many nations are failures as moral communities, particularly corrupt nations where dictators and elites run the country for their own benefit. If you don’t value moral capital, then you won’t foster values, virtues, norms, practices, identities, institutions and technologies that increase it.

There are at least a few missing steps here. Few people, liberal or conservative, would argue that a tiny community teetering on the brink of oblivion is the place for hedonists or free-thinkers. But that’s not the salient question here—the salient question is whether the concerns of social conservatives and social liberals deserve equal weight simply because they come from equally genuine places.

Haidt wants us to think so, wants liberals to try to step into the shoes of conservatives (Haidt, for his part, is and always has been a liberal, but he writes that his research has pushed him a fair bit toward the center). And it’s an important impulse given how quick both sides are to strip the other of their humanity, to cast their opponents as grisly caricatures. But when it comes to the most difficult part—actually showing why liberals should hear out conservatives on issues—Haidt’s arguments come across as thin.

Issues surrounding homosexuality and gay marriage highlight this weakness in the text. It’s one thing to argue convincingly, which Haidt does, that moral dimensions like purity/sanctity have served evolutionarily important purposes as we have climbed from small bands of hunter-gatherers to the most powerful species on the planet. But now that we’ve arrived, now that those of us in the developed world are fortunate enough to not have to worry about society coming apart at the seams, what is it about arguments against gay marriage that we should respect? Why shouldn’t we see concerns about homosexuality as no-longer-useful evolutionary artifacts? What Haidt struggles with and can never quite break through is a version of the naturalistic fallacy. We all like fat and chocolate that doesn’t mean fat and chocolate are inherently good or worth defending on a rational basis. Because of how we’re attuned, fat and chocolate can be dangerous.

The same goes for homophobia. Haidt’s otherwise sophisticated argument does nothing to shut off a counterpoint: Homophobia seems to be a clear case where (some of) our brains are telling us something—homosexuality is dirty and a threat to the sanctity of our persons and our communities—that simply isn’t born out by any of the now considerable empirical research that has been done on the subject. Why, exactly, are we supposed to see this view as in any way on par with other, more empirically defensible stances? The arguments against homosexuality—that its acceptance cheapens marriage, that it destroys families, that it corrupts kids—have all been studied and debunked. They all reek of the sorts of flimsy post-hoc justifications offered by the subjects of Haidt’s experiments. But we’re supposed to be respectful of these views because they are … what? Deeply felt? Spawned from the same cognitive mechanisms as liberal beliefs?

It’s easy to focus on The Righteous Mind’s final chapter, especially given the extent to which the conversation about Haidt and his work have revolved around politics. But this important book—and it is an important book—is much more notable for what it explains than for what it argues. And whatever its polemical weaknesses, it does, in vital ways, help ideologically driven people to at least understand where the other side is coming from.


Self-made millionaire Tony Robbins: Believing these 7 'lies' will make you more successful in life — and psychology agrees

The world's most successful people have one thing in common: They've mastered the ability to produce the results they desire most.

That's the idea behind "Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement," Tony Robbin's first best-selling book. In it, the life coach and business strategist argues that there are seven "beliefs" we must follow in order to succeed in life. What's interesting is that he refers to those "beliefs" as "lies," though not in a way that implies they are dishonest or deceitful — because who would want to live by lies?

"All I mean is that we don't know how the world really is," Robbins writes in his book. "We won't know if our beliefs are true or false. What we can know, though, is if they work — if they support us, if they make our lives richer, if they make us better people, if they help us and help others."

So, yes, while these beliefs may or may not be true, Robbins says that they are nonetheless vital to the foundation of excellence.

Here are Robbins' seven lies of success:

  1. Everything happens for a reason and purpose, and it services us. Successful people focus on what's possible in a situation, no matter how much negative feedback they receive. "They believe that adversity contains the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit," he writes.
  2. There is no such thing as failure. There are only results. Failure does not exist for successful people. If the outcome wasn't what they desired, they see it as a learning opportunity. According to Robbins, "Belief in failure is a way of poisoning the mind."
  3. Whatever happens, take responsibility. High achievers believe that they create their own world and reality. Robbins says the greatest leaders have the ability to say, "It's my responsibility. I'll take care of it."
  4. It's not necessary to understand everything to be able to use everything. There's a balance between use and knowledge. Robbins says that achievers "exact the essence from a situation, take out what they need, and don't dwell on the rest."
  5. People are your greatest resource. Do you respect and appreciate your peers? People who produce outstanding results "have a sense of team, a sense of common purpose and unity," he writes.
  6. Work is play. The world's most remarkable artists, thinkers and creators found joy in their work. Bill Gates didn't create Microsoft because he hated software. Robbins reminds us of a wonderful quote by Mark Twain: "The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation."
  7. There is no abiding success without commitment. If you're just trying, and not committing, there's no promise you'll reach the end. The most successful people, says Robbins, "aren't necessarily the best and brightest, the fastest and strongest. They're the ones with the most commitment."

And there you have it — a person with seriously good intuitions about personal growth, psychology and success says that these are the seven lies of success you must believe in order to achieve excellence.


Wokeness is a New Religion and Christians Are Converting En Masse

As a student and teacher in the counter-cult movement for many years, I have both studied and taught how new faith-systems spawn from infancy and grow into full-fledged organized religions. It is my assessment, in no uncertain terms, that what America is witnessing is the birth of a new religion that will dwarf all other forms of religion in just a decade.

The traditional, prominent faiths of the United States – Protestant evangelicalism and Roman Catholicism – will soon be replaced by an altogether new religion that we are watching be born before our eyes. It is my belief that the rallies and protests we are seeing happen in our major cities are in fact religious gatherings.

If Christians are to survive in America, we must as soon as possible properly and accurately classify the “social justice” movement as a religion so as to receive the protections afforded us in the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution. If not, we will soon find ourselves the victims of a state-sanctioned religion that uses its power of bigotry against our more traditional Christian faith.

Sub-Christian sects such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Science, and Black Hebrew Israelites follow the same path of development as non-Christian cults like Scientology. While these faith systems might technically be classified as religions, their formation and growth is observable and quantifiable science. In short, all new religions develop in the same sociological pattern and have predictable and similar characteristics.

While the new American religion may not have an official name, it might be called the Religion of Wokeness, Social Religion, or Social Justice. Its more pseudo-Christian manifestations might be called the Popularity Gospel. Its name, like the religion itself, is in development. For the purpose of this article, it will be called the Religion of Wokeness.

DEVELOPING RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS RARELY SELF-IDENTIFY AS NEW RELIGIONS

Cults rarely self-identify as religions during their early development. In fact, the vast majority of religions known in the world today at first vehemently rejected claims that they were religions before ultimately embracing systemized modifications that would institutionalize their faith. For example, L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, famously claimed that his teachings were a branch of psychology and science and not a religion at all, but now the cult enjoys recognition as a religion with the Internal Revenue Service. Jehovah’s Witnesses, originally known as members of the Watchtower Society, denied being an organized religion from their founding in the 1880s until 1954 when the question had to be settled in a Scottish court regarding a conscientious objector to war. Even early Christians were viewed largely as adherents to Judaism with peculiar beliefs about the Messiah and not as a distinct religion until the siege of Jerusalem in 70AD.

But if largescale spiritual movements are slow to categorize themselves as religions, small cult groups are especially slow to do so. Jim Jones’ People’s Temple claimed his teachings did not constitute a new religion, as did David Koresh’s Branch Davidians who only spoke negatively of “organized religion” and the “religious establishment.” The Rajneeshees sex-cult that took over a county in Oregon in the 1980s vehemently denied being a religion and instead advertised themselves as a “lifestyle philosophy of shared community values.”

Large religious movements in the Restorationist period beginning in the 1840s typically eschewed the title “religion” as they branded themselves only as having or restoring a proper understanding of already-established religions. The Mormons, for example, claimed only to be a restoration of the Melchezidekian priesthood lost sometime after the first century, trying to tie their faith to that of the earliest church.

Other large religions, like Buddhism and Taoism, reject the title of “religion” altogether, instead claiming to be a philosophy or discipline. Rarely, if ever, does a new religion begin by calling itself a religion.

COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF RELIGIONS

There are common characteristics of most religions. Not all religions share all of these characteristics, but virtually all religions share most of these characteristics.

These characteristics of “religion” include sacred literature, identifying doctrine, strong opposition to the cultural status quo, characterization of non-adherents as lost, damned, or evil, acts of worship that include singing, prostration (kneeling), or chanting, fervent proselyting and public demonstrations of worship, some form of confession and penance, and a Messiah figure or figures – usually martyrs – who are elevated as either saints or saviors.

SACRED LITERATURE

Jews have the Torah. Christians added the New Testament. Muslims have the Quran. Mormons have the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants. Jehovah’s Witnesses have the Watchtower publication. Scientologists have the works and writings of Hubbard. Even the Rajneesh have their “Bible,” a collection of writings from Osho. Freemasons have their secret manuals. Hindus have the Vedas. Buddhists have the Tao Te Ching and Sutras.

The Religion of Wokeness has several sacred books that have produced the ideological foundation of the movement. Although the Communist Manifesto casts a large shadow across the movement, its preeminent sacred Text is Critical Race Theory, a 2001 book written by Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado. The book lays out the dogma of Woke Religion and the central religious tenets of cultural and ethnic division.

There is a whole cast of Woke prophets whose apostolic writings serve as Sacred Writ for the movement including Kimberle’ Williams Crenshaw, Cheryl Harris, Gloria Ladsen-Billings, Karen Pyke, and Camara Phyllis Jones. Supporting religious texts are provided by Saul Alinsky, Gustavo Guttierez, James Cone, and Oscar Romero.

The writings of these Woke Apostles, which provide the written canon of Woke theology, have found their way into conservative evangelical seminaries and have wholly taken over, for example, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, which both claim that their religious doctrines can help serve as “analytical tools” for better understanding culture and the Holy Bible.

IDENTIFYING DOCTRINES

All religions have easily-identifiable doctrines – or teachings – that are distinct from other faith traditions. Christians, for example, will repeat terms like propitiation, justification, or substitutionary atonement. Mormons will speak of eternal progression.

More specifically, religions systemize their theology into easy-to-understand doctrines. Calvinists, for example, use the acronym TULIP to explain their view of Christian soteriology.

Wokeness Religion also has an acronym, albeit an unfortunate one. Their acronym is DIE and stands for diversity, inclusion, and equity. These are the highest and loftiest goals for a Woke religionist to obtain. DIE is the equivalent of Christians achieving sanctification or Buddhists completing the discipline of Anatta.

To accomplish diversity, inclusion, and equity (DIE), the Religion of Wokeness promotes its core doctrines. Doctrinal terms include “whiteness,” “intersectionality,” “white privilege,” “micro-aggression,” and “systemic racism.” In the Religion of Wokeness, these terms have been assigned their own unique meaning by their apostolic writers (named above) and find their way into the religion’s literature and advertising.

CHARACTERIZING NON-ADHERENTS AS DAMNED

Most religions characterize non-adherents as damned. Christians believe in the exclusivity of Christ. Mormons, who do not believe in hell, believe that only Mormons will obtain the third level of Heaven. Muslims refer to non-adherents as infidels, worthy of death.

Few religions, however, demonize non-adherents as harshly as Woke Religionists. Those who do not chant their chants, repeat their slogans, speak from their lexicon, or march in their parades are deemed to be racists, bigots, and prejudiced. And for the Woke Religionists, it is not enough that people not oppose them…they must be with them or else.

The Religion of Wokeness may very well be the most persecutory religion, if not in history, then certainly during the 21st Century. The goal of Woke Religionists is to hunt down, find out, and unveil everyone who will not be converted and see to it that they are fired from their job, ostracized from their communities, and scorned publicly. Not even radical Islam takes such a harsh approach toward those who refuse to be converted. On a daily basis, Woke Religionists spend an inordinate amount of their time lifting up non-adherents to scorn, characterizing them as dangerous, and begging for punitive legal, financial, and societal consequences against them. Many innocent people feel it necessary to march along with the Woke Religionists (whether literally or figuratively) just to not be targeted for their sin of non-conformity.

A part of this ‘others are damned’ conviction is the tendency toward iconoclasm, the intolerance toward images or symbols that aren’t approved by the religion. Among Christians, this is seen in Protestants who disapprove of Catholic icons or Catholics who historically have destroyed Islamic sculptures. In the Religion of Wokeness, the tendency toward iconoclasm is more violent than at any time since the Crusades. As a part of their religious zeal, they have violently and criminally taken down any statue or flag they believe is contrary to their religion, even if on public or private property belonging to others.

ACTS OF WORSHIP THAT INCLUDE SINGING, CHANTING, BOWING OR KNEELING

Purely philosophical movements or purely social movements do not include worship as a defining characteristic. However, all religious movements include the traditional components of worship including singing, chanting, bowing, or kneeling.

Christians sing corporate songs of worship. Catholics often kneel for communion. Muslims bow to Mecca. Ancient Christians in the East eerily chanted. These are all religious acts of worship.

Woke Religionists are engaging in these acts regularly. They can be seen bowing before their woke leaders, as Caucasians in the religion have been placing their faces on the ground before the feet of their black counterparts. Meanwhile, black adherents to the movement can be seen bowing before the police. Corporations that feel forced to affirm the religion defend the rights of protestors to bow at inopportune times as though it were religious liberty.

Mass religious services, which are sometimes called “protests” but often fit the qualifications of a riot, include singing and chanting slogans and phrases that hearken back to Woke doctrines and using slogans that convey those doctrines. In fact, Woke Religion’s public gatherings include singing as frequently as Christians sing in church. You won’t find a protest without it.

CONFESSION AND PENANCE

Religions almost universally have a system of confession and penance. Catholicism has the confessional booth and priest-mandated penance. Scientology has “auditing.” Islam has the citation of the Shahadah. Orthodox Christianity requires an initial public profession of faith upon conversion – centered upon the act of baptism – in which confession of sin and status as a sinner is acknowledged, along with professed trust in the accomplished work of Christ for forgiveness.

The Religion of Wokeness includes confession also. Chiefly, those who are not of ethnic minority status need to publicly confess and denounce their “white privilege,” a concept invented by the Woke Religion apostles mentioned above.

White Privilege is the Woke Religion’s equivalent of Original Sin, the Christian teaching that we are born with the sin-guilt inherited from Adam. Although Christianity teaches that by faith we lose whatever guilt or shame we have inherited through Adam, Woke theology insists that all white people have guilt on account of being white because they have inherited certain privileges that people of color do not enjoy. Because whites have privileges that their ancestors stole from the ancestors of slaves, they reason, white people today must apologize for those privileges.

To properly atone for your white privilege, or pay penance, you must use your white privilege to help end it. This means electing politicians who will promote universal basic income (UBI), an increased minimum wage, a budget-busting welfare state, and mandated affirmative action to support ethnic minorities, women, students, the poor, and sexual deviants.

The penance paid for white guilt is not to remove slavery, but reverse it. In short, getting rid of all privilege (wealth, property, or opportunities) is not enough to atone for the sin. Privilege must be transferred from oppressor groups (white, heterosexual males) to oppressed groups (basically everyone else).

Transferring wealth, property, opportunity, and power to the “underprivileged” is the price of salvation in the Religion of Wokeness.

A Messiah-Figure, Usually a Martyr, Who is Extolled as Savior

Most religions have a messiah-figure who is extolled as a savior or, at the very least, an extolled high prophet. And most of the time, that messiah-figure is a martyr, dying for their cause.

The clearest example of this is in Christianity, in which our Messiah-figure is literally the Jewish Messiah who died on the cross for our sins. But other religions have these figures as well.

Islam has Muhammad, Mormonism has Joseph Smith, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have Charles Taze Russell, Buddhists have Buddha, the Branch Davidians had David Koresh, and the Rajneesh have Osho. Although not all messiah-figures are murdered, most are characterized by suffering.

Within these religions, no contrary opinions about the messiahs can be tolerated. Mormons cannot discuss Joseph Smith’s suspect moral character and prophetic failures. Muslims cannot discuss Muhammad’s pedophilia. The Davidians could not complain about Koresh’s child brides.

The Religion of Wokeness also has its messiahs. Dr. Martin Luther King enjoys the highest status of sainthood among them, and his history as a sex-trafficker, adulterer, and homosexual cannot be discussed without being excommunicated from the religion for blasphemy. A number of lesser saints also enjoy religious worship, including Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, or Philando Castile.

Graffiti artist Eme Freethinker kneels in front of his portrait of George Floyd, which he painted on one of the last remaining sections of the Berlin Wall. “I remember when I came in [to paint it], some guy told me, ‘You have to do it with the police over his neck,'” Freethinker says, “and I was like: ‘No, man. Not like that. No.'”

These individuals, who range from law-abiding citizens to violent criminals who were killed while attacking police or resisting arrest, are the de facto saints of Woke Religion. Their names are set-aside as holy and sacred, their memories as sacrosanct, their testimonies as infallible.

Today, people are lifting up the image of George Floyd like an icon of holiness. Few feel the courage to point out that he was a felon with a violent criminal past, a pornographer, engaged consistently in criminal behavior, and died with enough drugs in his system to kill a horse. He is, nonetheless, holy — in a religious sense — to Woke Religionists. To point out his character is blasphemy of the highest order and deserving of full ex-communication.

Even Floyd’s name is held sacred, with religious observers demanding people “say his name” and yet not dare misuse it. The transition of Wokeness as a social movement into a religion is so complete they have even co-opted the Judeo-Christian Third Commandment, “Thou shalt not take my name in vain.”

CHRISTIANS ARE CONVERTING TO WOKE RELIGION EN MASSE

For the last three months, most evangelical leaders have refused to open their doors for worship. Claiming that gathering publicly would hurt their Christian witness, violate Romans 13, and be unloving to their neighbor, their doors have remained shut (many of them until this very day).

And yet, evangelical leaders like Ed Stetzer, David Platt, and Ron Burns (also known as “Thabiti Anyabwile”) have all refused to open their doors to worship Jesus. Yet still, all of them organized religious gatherings for the church of Wokeness. They marched and organized mass gatherings to “protest” (worship) rather than opening their Protestant church doors for Christ.

What could possibly be a reason for refusing to have church services but still meeting in mass gatherings for Wokeness? There is only one plausible answer. They have converted from Christianity in the embrace of the Popularity Gospel.

The Religion of Wokeness is not compatible with Christianity. It has its own doctrines, own worship, own ordinances (chiefly, protest and virtue-signaling), and own messiah-figures. It has its own, competing version of confession, repentance, and atonement.

True Christians need to reject Wokeness – and the high priests of Wokeness – as fierce opposition to the Lordship of Christ and true religion.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…(Matthew 6:24).

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How Come Some People Believe in the Paranormal?

I loved magic shows when I was a kid. I remember being absolutely fascinated by mysterious events and the possibility that some of us might possess supernatural powers such as the ability to read minds, get a glimpse of the future, or, perhaps, suddenly port into another dimension. The human mind is a curious one. Although it is well-known that children have a lively imagination, what about adults? You might be surprised to learn that a recent national poll found that over 71% of Americans believe in &ldquomiracles&rdquo, 42% of Americans believe that &ldquoghosts&rdquo exist, 41% think that &ldquoextrasensory perception&rdquo (e.g., telepathy) is possible and 29% believe in astrology.

Other recent polls have indicated that public belief in things like conspiracy theories or other pseudo-scientific phenomena are equally prevalent. For example, 21% of Americans think the government is hiding aliens, 28% of Americans believe that a mysterious, secret elite power is plotting a New World Order (NWO) and 14% of Americans believe in Bigfoot. Recent psychological research has found a surprising relationship between these types of personal convictions espousal of conspiracy theories, pseudo-science and belief in the paranormal turn out to be highly correlated with one another. What could explain these findings?

While perhaps belief in say, lizard people and astrology seem relatively unrelated on the surface, so-called &ldquomagical thinking&rdquo may very well have a common underlying &ldquocognitive style&rdquo &mdash that is, the way in which we think about and make sense of the world. In fact, a new study explored this very question and suggests that the answer may indeed lie in the way we think about things, or, more precisely, the way in which we fail to think about things.

Two researchers at the University of Toulouse in France set out to investigate to what extent &ldquocognitive thinking styles&rdquo are predictive of believing in the paranormal after experiencing an &ldquouncanny&rdquo event. The research team designed a number of clever experiments to test their hypothesis. In the first study, the researchers invited students on campus to participate in an experiment that investigated astrological signs as a predictor of one&rsquos personality. After providing their date of birth, participants received a personality description that matched their astral theme. In reality, each person was given the same 10 &ldquoBarnum&rdquo statements. These are statements that could ring true for nearly anyone (e.g., &ldquoyou have a need for people to like you&rdquo or &ldquoat times you have serious doubts about whether you have made the right decision&rdquo). Participants were then asked to evaluate how accurate they thought this description was. Before starting the experiment, participants were also asked to complete a Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) as well as a &ldquoParanormal Belief&rdquo questionnaire. The cognitive reflection test is a very short three-item test that essentially measures whether you are more of an intuitive or reflective thinker. Consider the following example if a baseball and a bat cost $1.10 and the bat costs $1 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost? The quick and intuitive answer that comes to mind for most people is simply .10. Yet, this is also the wrong answer. More reflective thinkers tend to suppress this automatic and intuitive answer and are more suspicious of the first thing that comes to mind. (If you&rsquore curious, the correct answer is: .05).

The researchers found that although both intuitive and reflective thinkers somewhat recognized the statements as being descriptive of their personality, reflective thinkers were much less likely to recognize the Barnum statements as correct. This relationship persisted after controlling for any prior differences in paranormal beliefs. The authors speculated that in contrast to reflective minds, intuitive thinkers might be more likely to accept their &ldquouncanny&rdquo experience as proof for the existence of supernatural phenomena.

To test this assertion more directly, the researchers conducted another experiment. In the second experiment, a different group of students were studied, but this time they were told that the purpose of the study was to examine telepathy (i.e., mind-reading). The research team hired a fake participant to act as the &ldquomind-reader.&rdquo During the experiment, participants were told to randomly pick a card out of a set of five, and then the other participant (the confederate) would &ldquoread&rdquo their mind by guessing what card they had picked (the experiment was rigged of course). This time, the experimenters asked participants directly whether they thought the event was simply a result of luck, probability or a non-scientific explanation such as extrasensory perception (ESP). Results showed that irrespective of prior convictions, non-reflective thinkers were indeed more likely to endorse ESP as an explanation for their &ldquouncanny&rdquo experience whereas reflective thinkers were more likely to see the event as a statistical fluke.

Interestingly, one question the researchers did not answer is why intuitive minds are more likely to engage in such &ldquomagical thinking?&rdquo Cognitive psychologists have offered one possible explanation the &ldquoconjunction fallacy.&rdquo The conjunction fallacy was coined by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky and basically describes a reasoning error where people mistakenly assume that specific conditions are more likely than general ones. For example, consider the following two statements (A) Linda can predict the future and (B) Linda can predict the future and also read your mind. Logically, the probability of two events occurring together (in &ldquoconjunction&rdquo) is always less than or equal to the probability of either event occurring alone. In other words, although option B may sound completely plausible due to the misleading &ldquorepresentativeness&rdquo of the two events (precognition and mindreading), the laws of probability tell us that the likelihood that Linda can do two separate magical things is always less likely (or equal) to the probability that she can do either one alone.

Recent research has shown that people who espouse paranormal and conspiratorial beliefs are much more susceptible to the conjunction-fallacy. For example, consider the fact that people often endorse multiple (or contradictory) conspiracy theories about the same event, where belief in one conspiracy serves as evidence for belief in another. Yet, the likelihood that two (or many) different conspiratorial explanations about world events are all true at the same time is increasingly unlikely. Similarly, belief in one paranormal phenomenon might quickly lead to the belief that many &ldquomagical&rdquo things are happening (it can&rsquot merely be coincidence).

You might ask: Why kill the magic? Not everything needs to be explained by science. Yet misinformation of this kind can be harmful. For example, in a recent study, I found that merely exposing people to a 2-minute conspiracy video clip significantly decreases acceptance of science, civic engagement, and overall pro-social inclinations. I call this the &ldquoconspiracy-effect&rdquo. Although I did not measure cognitive style, non-reflective thinkers may be especially vulnerable to such misinformation. Similarly, the French research team notes that non-reflective individuals may be vulnerable to scams. Indeed, millions of dollars are made every year by people who (falsely) claim that they can read your mind or talk to deceased family members.

Is there any way to protect people from falling prey to such magical thinking? There is some evidence. Research has suggested that these type of intuitive beliefs often interact with emotional processes. Accordingly, a recent study showed that priming people to think more reflectively reduces tendencies to engage in, for example, conspiratorial thinking. It is important to note, however, that neither &ldquointuitive&rdquo nor &ldquoreflective&rdquo thinking alone is always better, as both thinking styles often work together. For example, when overwhelmed by a large number of competing choice options, relying on an instinctive gut feeling can be useful (the &ldquoless is more&rdquo effect). The real trick is figuring out when to rely a little more on your gut feelings and when to draw a little more on your analytical powers. Although our intuition serves us well in some cases, we may all benefit from a little more reflective thinking before we decide to accept uncanny explanations about the nature of reality.

Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology? And have you read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about? Please send suggestions to Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook. Gareth, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, is the series editor of Best American Infographics and can be reached at garethideas AT gmail.com or Twitter @garethideas.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

Sander van der Linden is a social-psychologist and lecturer at Princeton University. His research explores the psychology of social influence, judgment, and decision-making. He runs a blog &ldquosocially relevant&rdquo at Psychology Today.


Why QAnon followers believe: The psychology of embracing far-right conspiracy theories

By Nicole Karlis
Published August 11, 2018 2:00PM (EDT)

Supporters cheer for Donald Trump as he speaks at a rally. (Getty/Scott Olson)

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You have likely heard of latest right-wing conspiracy theory “QAnon” by now since it has hit the mainstream media. Not only does it have many of us on the outside questioning how we got here as a society, but it also raises peculiar questions about the human condition. Why are some people more prone to believing conspiracy theories than others?

If you are unfamiliar, QAnon — sometimes referred to as “the Storm” — is a pro-Trump conspiracy theory that has created a cultish culture on the internet. It began when a pseudonymous ring leader calling themselves “Q” began posting on the anonymous internet forums 4Chan and 8Chan in late 2017 (hence the name “QAnon”). The conspiracy theory itself is long-winded and slightly complicated, but it boils down to this: Q claims to have uncovered evidence that high-profile Democrats are pedophiles, and President Donald Trump is leading the fight against the group. Q communicates to his followers through obscure “crumbs.”

In other words, it takes the Pizzagate lie to the next level, and the level of absurdity raises the question of whether we are all being trolled. BuzzFeed has made the case that a leftist prankster could be pulling an elaborate prank on Trump supporters with QAnon. Whoever QAnon is, though, some of his followers have proven to be devoted through the so-called conspiracy in dangerous ways. In June, a group of Arizona veterans thought a homeless camp was a child-sex camp, which led to local authorities seriously investigating the claim. In July, Michael Avenatti was targeted by QAnon.

Americans with far-right political views are no strangers to conspiracy theories. Alex Jones of Infowars is notorious for spreading them, and he has millions of followers. While there is no direct and clear answer as to why some people believe in conspiracy theories and others don’t, a group of psychologists have narrowed down a few possibilities.

“There are many factors that draw people toward conspiracy theories. Some of them are related to aspects of a person's personality (e.g., narcissism, Machiavellianism, mistrust) and others are associated with social factors (e.g., powerlessness, education, age),” Karen Douglas, a Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Kent, Canterbury, told Salon in an email.

In 2017, a group of researchers including Douglas at the University of Kent published a paper titled “The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories,” in which they suggested conspiracy theories are driven by three factors: epistemic, existential and social.

“First, conspiracy beliefs are linked to the way people process information. People have a higher tendency to believe in conspiracy theories if they feel uncertain and are motivated to find meaning or patterns in their environment,” Aleksandra Cichocka, another one of the authors and a Senior Lecturer in Political Psychology School of Psychology at the University of Kent told Salon in an email. “Conspiracy beliefs are also linked to lower levels of analytical thinking.”

The second reason relates to existentialism.

“Conspiracy beliefs increase when people feel anxious, powerless or that they lack control over their lives,” she said. “In these situations, they might be motivated to think that someone else is ‘pulling the strings’ (as Douglas and others put it).”

Regarding the possible third reason, “social,” it might have to do with a deep desire to belong to a group.

“And third, conspiracy beliefs are linked to the need maintain a positive image of oneself and the social groups one belongs to,” she said. “For example, belief in conspiracy theories is higher among members of marginalised or disadvantaged groups. Presumably, believing in a conspiracy allows them to place blame for any negative experiences on others.”

But what is it about the far-right that encourages such wild theories to spread? As Cichocka explained, there is evidence that the far-left is likely to believe in conspiracy theories too. Indeed, the popularity of conspiracy theories aren’t linked to a specific group, but rather to “extremists.” A 2014 study by University of Chicago political science professors Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood found that each year they surveyed samples of the population, half of Americans believed in a conspiracy theory. Specifically, 24 percent of Americans (at the time of the study) believed former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States and 19 percent of Americans believed the U.S. government was responsible for 9/11.

“It could [be] that extremists on both sides are drawn to conspiracy theories, especially if they feel marginalised or disadvantaged,” she said. “Thus, if far-right conservatives felt marginalised in the US, this might have created a fertile ground for conspiracy theories.”

“In the end, believing there is a conspiracy can help people explain why they are not getting the recognition they feel is due to them,” she added.

Douglas explained once someone believes in a conspiracy, it can be hard to change one’s mind (although it is possible to “inoculate” one).

“In general, once ideas become fixed, they are difficult to shake off,” Douglas told Salon in an email. “So once a person believes in a conspiracy theory it is difficult to convince them otherwise.”

“Alternative explanations are often quite mundane too and conspiracy explanations tend to be more proportional to the events themselves, which makes them more interesting,” she added, noting more research needs to be done on this topic.


People's beliefs about the meaning of crepitus in patellofemoral pain and the impact of these beliefs on their behaviour: A qualitative study

Background: A feature of patellofemoral pain is joint crepitus. Several causes of crepitus have been described, but previous research has focused on the pathological meaning of crepitus. No research has demonstrated a definitive link between noise and pathology and its importance and meaning to patients is unresearched.

Objective: To explore the beliefs of patients with non-osteoarthritic patellofemoral pain regarding their crepitus, and how this impacts on their behaviour.

Design: Qualitative design using semi-structured interviews.

Method: A general inductive approach was used as this is a previously unresearched topic. Underpinned by the health beliefs model, an interview schedule was used to reflect different elements. Inductive thematic analysis was used to generate themes to represent the dataset. Participants were 11 patients diagnosed with non-osteoarthritic patellofemoral pain, crepitus as one of their symptoms, referred to an outpatient clinic.

Results/findings: Three key themes emerged all with sub-themes within them. Firstly, belief about the noise had a sub-theme of search for and perceived meaning of noise. Symbolising ageing was another sub-theme whereby participants described feelings of premature ageing. The final sub-theme was emotional response with participants feeling a range of negative emotions. The second theme of the influence of others reveals participants describing two distinctly different relationships, one with friends and family and one with professionals. The final theme was avoiding the noise. A sub-theme of altering movement shows participants describing fear-avoidant behaviour.

Conclusion: Crepitus is a poorly understood symptom that creates negative emotions, inaccurate etiological beliefs and ultimately leads to altered behaviour.

Keywords: Culture Fear Health beliefs Patellofemoral pain.


What Psychology Teaches Us About Moral and Political Divides

R ight after John Kerry’s devastating loss to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election, Bill Clinton told the Financial Times that the Kerry campaign had failed to engage voters on “values” issues, that middle Americans saw the party as “two-dimensional aliens.”

“If you let people believe that your party doesn’t believe in faith or family, doesn’t believe in work and freedom—that’s our fault,” he said.

Clinton’s remarks highlighted a panic that occasionally descends on the American Left—one that peaked rather spectacularly after Kerry’s flameout: What if there’s something we simply don’t get about conservatives, something that will render useless all of our best-laid plans to win them over with our clearly superior logic and understanding?

In The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt confirms all of the Left’s biggest fears. Yes, there is something liberals simply don’t get about conservatives. There are a few things, actually.

The book can be seen as divided into two parts: a large, expansive exploration of the roots of our morality, how morality connects to group dynamics and evolutionary adaptations, and the many ways in which we are not as coolly rational as we’d like to think we are. Then, toward the end, there is a shorter, less convincing section in which Haidt attempts to apply the book’s many insights to contemporary politics and policy.

Key to all of this is Moral Foundations Theory (MFT), developed by Haidt and some of his likeminded colleagues. (Their website, YourMorals.org, provides an excellent, interactive introduction.) On a psychological level, argues MFT, there isn’t one thing called “morality.” Rather, morality emerges out of mental modules that have evolved to deal with six different concerns: care/harm, liberty/oppression, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation. The key insight here—and the idea that makes MFT so powerful—is that each of us is attuned differently along these six dimensions.

Through their empirical research, Haidt and his colleagues have uncovered the moral underpinnings of America’s most well-represented political ideologies. American liberals tend to be primarily concerned with care/harm, followed by liberty/oppression, followed by fairness/cheating, with the other three concerns getting scraps at best. Social conservatives, on the other hand, care about all six concerns approximately equally. And it’s easy to go finer-grained here, too: libertarians, for example, care most about liberty/oppression and second-most about fairness/cheating. The other four are tied for last place.

One thing Haidt and his colleagues discovered is that conservatives tend to have a broader set of moral concerns than liberals. Liberals have trouble getting out of their cozy world of three core dimensions of morality. When Haidt and his colleagues asked conservatives to fake liberal responses to the questions posed on YourMorals.org, and vice-versa, they found that liberals couldn’t pull it off—they had much more trouble stepping inside the heads of their ideological opponents than did their right-leaning friends.

Haidt and his colleagues have spent years exploring MFT in experimental settings and online at YourMorals.org. Some of the most memorable parts of the book come when Haidt relates these experiments, which typically consist of an unfortunate subject faced with some rather icky questions: Would it be wrong to have sex with a chicken? To eat the family dog after something killed it? For two siblings to have sex?

Fascinatingly, even when these vignettes are carefully and artfully written to avoid any victimization, subjects highly attuned to the concerns the experiment is designed to elicit (sanctity/degradation in the case of the above three, for example) will try to invent a victim. As Haidt writes:

I had trained my interviewers to correct people gently when they made claims that contradicted the text of the story. For example, if someone said, “It’s wrong to cut up the [American] flag because a neighbor might see her do it, and he might be offended,” the interviewer replied, “Well, it says here in the story that nobody saw her do it. So would you still say it was wrong for her to cut up her flag?” Yet even when subjects recognized that their victim claims were bogus, they refused to say that the act was OK. Instead, they kept searching for another victim. They said things like “I know it’s wrong, but I just can’t think of a reason why.” They seemed to be morally dumbfounded—rendered speechless by their inability to explain verbally what they knew intuitively.

This theme comes up over and over throughout the book: our moral rationalizations are window dressing. Haidt’s experiments, and reams of other psychological research, suggest that for the most part our moral ideas emerge from gut-level reactions, not carefully reasoned thought. But once we’ve had such a gut reaction, it wouldn’t do to simply throw up one’s hands and say, “I don’t know why I believe it, but it’s true” (as some of Haidt’s subjects were forced to do when they were starved of other options). Instead, we weave stories that back up our claims.

The Righteous Mind is a fascinating read, and it’s hard to do it justice in a single review because of how much ground is covered. By his final chapter, Haidt has written what feels like a dozen dissertations worth of research on psychology, evolutionary theory, and moral philosophy.

That’s why the last chapter is disappointing. This is where Haidt tries to latch his ideas onto the present day, to make an argument for moral ecumenism in our highly polarized political environment, and he doesn’t quite pull it off.

At one point, Haidt asks us to imagine communes with 25 adults “who knew, liked, and trusted one another,” ones where the shared beliefs and values of the members of each were known and publicly posted.

A commune that valued self-expression over conformity and that prized the virtue of tolerance over the virtue of loyalty might be more attractive to outsiders, and this could indeed be an advantage in recruiting new members, but it would have lower moral capital—“the resources that sustain a moral community,” as he explains elsewhere—than a commune that valued conformity and loyalty. The stricter commune would be better able to suppress or regulate selfishness, and would therefore be more likely to endure. As Haidt puts it:

Moral communities are fragile things, hard to build and easy to destroy. When we think about very large communities such as nations, the challenge is extraordinary and the threat of moral entropy is intense. There is not a big margin for error many nations are failures as moral communities, particularly corrupt nations where dictators and elites run the country for their own benefit. If you don’t value moral capital, then you won’t foster values, virtues, norms, practices, identities, institutions and technologies that increase it.

There are at least a few missing steps here. Few people, liberal or conservative, would argue that a tiny community teetering on the brink of oblivion is the place for hedonists or free-thinkers. But that’s not the salient question here—the salient question is whether the concerns of social conservatives and social liberals deserve equal weight simply because they come from equally genuine places.

Haidt wants us to think so, wants liberals to try to step into the shoes of conservatives (Haidt, for his part, is and always has been a liberal, but he writes that his research has pushed him a fair bit toward the center). And it’s an important impulse given how quick both sides are to strip the other of their humanity, to cast their opponents as grisly caricatures. But when it comes to the most difficult part—actually showing why liberals should hear out conservatives on issues—Haidt’s arguments come across as thin.

Issues surrounding homosexuality and gay marriage highlight this weakness in the text. It’s one thing to argue convincingly, which Haidt does, that moral dimensions like purity/sanctity have served evolutionarily important purposes as we have climbed from small bands of hunter-gatherers to the most powerful species on the planet. But now that we’ve arrived, now that those of us in the developed world are fortunate enough to not have to worry about society coming apart at the seams, what is it about arguments against gay marriage that we should respect? Why shouldn’t we see concerns about homosexuality as no-longer-useful evolutionary artifacts? What Haidt struggles with and can never quite break through is a version of the naturalistic fallacy. We all like fat and chocolate that doesn’t mean fat and chocolate are inherently good or worth defending on a rational basis. Because of how we’re attuned, fat and chocolate can be dangerous.

The same goes for homophobia. Haidt’s otherwise sophisticated argument does nothing to shut off a counterpoint: Homophobia seems to be a clear case where (some of) our brains are telling us something—homosexuality is dirty and a threat to the sanctity of our persons and our communities—that simply isn’t born out by any of the now considerable empirical research that has been done on the subject. Why, exactly, are we supposed to see this view as in any way on par with other, more empirically defensible stances? The arguments against homosexuality—that its acceptance cheapens marriage, that it destroys families, that it corrupts kids—have all been studied and debunked. They all reek of the sorts of flimsy post-hoc justifications offered by the subjects of Haidt’s experiments. But we’re supposed to be respectful of these views because they are … what? Deeply felt? Spawned from the same cognitive mechanisms as liberal beliefs?

It’s easy to focus on The Righteous Mind’s final chapter, especially given the extent to which the conversation about Haidt and his work have revolved around politics. But this important book—and it is an important book—is much more notable for what it explains than for what it argues. And whatever its polemical weaknesses, it does, in vital ways, help ideologically driven people to at least understand where the other side is coming from.


Special Issue: Psychology, religion and spirituality

In January 2002 The Psychologist published a masterly review article by the late distinguished social psychologist Michael Argyle, entitled ‘State of the art: Religion’. Nine years later, following the events of 7 July 2005 and the rise of ‘new atheism’, religion and the related concept of spirituality have become more prominent in public consciousness. There are now more British psychologists involved in the study of religion, as researchers, teachers or practitioners. It is therefore timely that the field is reviewed, this time by several writers in this single issue of The Psychologist.

Religion, if nothing else, is a profoundly human phenomenon, and therefore amenable to study by psychologists. In his 2002 article for The Psychologist, Michael Argyle proposed treating religious faith as an attitude – something with cognitive, behavioural and emotional components, and he strongly emphasised the social dimension of all of these. In the last five years one aspect of religious cognition – belief in God – has come under unparalleled scrutiny (Wolf, 2006). In his 2006 polemical book The God Delusion Richard Dawkins questioned why intelligent human beings persist in holding beliefs that are seemingly irrational or inconsistent with empirical evidence.

As any cognitive therapist will recognise, this is at its heart a psychological question, and Dawkins indeed draws heavily on the relatively new field of cognitive science of religion (see the article by Justin Barrett and Emily Reed Burdett on p.252) to inform his answer. The ensuing debate continues to fascinate and divide public opinion. Psychologists have the potential to make a positive contribution to this debate by clarifying some of the basic conceptual assumptions, carrying out good empirical research, disseminating it effectively and, perhaps most of all, by ensuring that it is interpreted appropriately on all sides.

Turning to religious behaviour, it is regrettable but understandable that religious violence, including hate crimes against religious groups, has captured the attention of the press and government agencies. It was in this context that the AHRC/ESRC ‘Religion and Society Programme’ was launched in 2007. This initiative supports interdisciplinary research in the arts, humanities and social sciences aimed at better understanding the complexities of interaction between belief, culture and society, with a view to informing social policy in this area. In its first phase alone it was responsible for over £3 million of research funding, supporting projects in sociology, education, anthropology and geography, which examined prosocial as well as troubling aspects of religious faith. Psychology barely features among the funded projects, perhaps because psychology of religion has such a low public profile in Britain. (There is a promising psychological literature on religious fundamentalism and the separate phenomenon of religious violence, but it is largely American see, for instance Ginges et al., 2009 Hood et al., 2005 Jones, 2008).

What of religious emotion? This seems increasingly identified with the phenomenon of ‘spirituality’. Spirituality is often contrasted with religion (e.g. Koenig et al., 2001), with the former usually thought to be more individualist than collectivist more emotion-focused than practice-focused more inwardly than outwardly directed more informal than highly structured, with self-actualisation more important than sacrificial demands and duties and more anti-authoritarian than religion is.

All the great faith traditions incorporate spiritual practises aimed at feeding the inner life, and many find this separation of spirituality from religion objectionable (Pargament, 1999). On the other hand people in Western society are developing a well-documented tendency to describe themselves as ‘spiritual-but-not-religious.’ Results of a recent cross-cultural study indicate that 40 per cent of American respondents and 20 per cent of German respondents fall into this group, which includes atheists (Csof et al., 2009). This seems to be a postmodern phenomenon involving the privatisation and individualisation of certain aspects of religion, particularly altered states of consciousness. These are valued as means of enabling self-transcendence and supporting personal growth.

Psychologists are no exceptions to this social trend. As a group we are famed for our low levels of religious beliefs and affiliation (Ecklund & Scheitle, 2007). Yet in recent years there has been an explosion of our interest in meditation techniques, particularly ‘mindfulness’, as a therapeutic resource, to the extent that it is beginning to feel somewhat like a panacea. In 1997 the creation of the Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society established a home for the growing numbers of psychologists interested in the ‘inner life’ aspects of human spirituality.

In 2002, at the time Argyle was surveying the field of psychology of religion, the first meeting of the European Network of Positive Psychology was taking place at Winchester, rapidly followed by a special issue of The Psychologist devoted to this emerging area, which has since grown exponentially. Positive psychology has an extremely close relationship with the psychology of religion and spirituality, for both are concerned with personal growth and meaning. As if to demonstrate this, Argyle himself had an interest in both areas, publishing his book The Psychology of Happiness in 1986, long before the term ‘positive psychology’ was coined.

Positive psychology, which is influenced by Aristotelian ethics, concentrates on those aspects of human behaviour that are thought to contribute to personal and community flourishing. These are conceived of as universal character strengths or habits, such as integrity, forgiveness, kindness and gratitude (Peterson, 2006). Crucially, these character strengths were originally identified with reference to the virtues espoused by the great faith traditions of the world. Positive psychology talks of these faith traditions with respect, but essentially understands them as womb-like receptacles that have housed and nurtured character strengths, and may now be ready to give them up to the world. Positive psychology thus has a definite ‘spiritual-but-not religious’ feel.

As a psychologist interested in both religion and spirituality, I have very much welcomed the increasing recognition of the importance of consciousness in British psychology and the worldwide development of positive psychology. However, I have also wondered if the focus on spiritualities shorn of their religious roots does not pose a danger to the life of these very spiritualities. A wild rose that works in the chaos of a thorny hedgerow may wilt when plucked and put in a vase on the mantelpiece. The solution then is to breed the sort of rose that will survive in the new environment, preferably without thorns – to turn the rose into a user-friendly commodity. This new specimen is perhaps still recognisably a rose, but much has been lost in the process.

This is a theme that I was able to explore at more length when delivering the inaugural Michael Argyle Public Lecture on Psychology and Religion in Oxford in 2008. The lecture came at the end of a one-day conference for British psychologists working in the areas of religion and religious spirituality. Following on from a first meeting in 2006, a ‘Psychology and Religion UK’ network had been set up, and it was clear that much exciting work is taking place in the areas of research, teaching and practice, some of it showcased in the articles in this special issue of The Psychologist. Nevertheless the group identified some considerable challenges:

- Credibility: Psychologists who work in the area of religion feel that this area is not always taken seriously by their psychological colleagues.
- Centrality: Religion is often treated as a peripheral specialist area of interest that is not central to human life.
- Trustworthiness: Psychologists who study religion may be suspected of having a hidden agenda of trying to make converts.
- Religious diversity: Despite some recent advances, much more work needs to be done with non-Christian faith traditions.
- Identity: The majority of academic psychologists who study religion are employed in university religious studies of theology departments. These psychologists have to work hard to connect with ‘mainstream’ psychology.
- Career advancement: Obtaining funding for psychological projects related to religion is extremely challenging. There are very few academic posts available, and choosing to do a psychology PhD
on religion is perceived as risky.
- Methodological and conceptual conservatism: Postmodern perspectives have yet to be fully exploited in the psychological study of religion.

None of these challenges was seen as insuperable. Indeed, their identification has provided a useful agenda for the further development of the psychological study of religion in Britain. As part of this, closer links with the related-but-distinct enterprises of positive psychology and consciousness studies are to be encouraged.

As might be expected in a more religious culture, the situation in the USA is rather different from that in Britain. The APA Division 36 ‘Psychology of religion’ has been established for over 30 years. This may in part be attributable to the fact that the founding father of modern American mainstream psychology, William James, had an intellectual fascination with religion, while remaining personally agnostic. His systematic studies are described in the Gifford Lectures of 1901–02, written up as The Varieties of Religious Experience. In this highly readable book James identifies with amazing prescience the questions that still exercise psychologists who study religion today:

- What is the relationship between institutionalised religion and personal spirituality?
- What is the difference between functional religion and dysfunctional religion (what James calls the ‘healthy minded’ and the ‘sick soul’)?
- How can empirical psychologists avoid philosophical reductionism (what James calls ‘medical materialism’) in their study of religion?
- Is religion an area of human behaviour just like any other that can be studied with the usual methods and theories, or does it require a special approach?
- Should we be talking about universal religion or local religions or both?

As I struggle with these compelling issues in my work, my answer to the question ‘Why study religion?’ becomes clear: because it’s relevant to urgent questions facing society because without it we have an impoverished understanding of human spirituality but most of all, like Mount Everest, simply because it’s there.

Joanna Collicutt is at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, and Heythrop College, University of London [email protected]


Self-made millionaire Tony Robbins: Believing these 7 'lies' will make you more successful in life — and psychology agrees

The world's most successful people have one thing in common: They've mastered the ability to produce the results they desire most.

That's the idea behind "Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement," Tony Robbin's first best-selling book. In it, the life coach and business strategist argues that there are seven "beliefs" we must follow in order to succeed in life. What's interesting is that he refers to those "beliefs" as "lies," though not in a way that implies they are dishonest or deceitful — because who would want to live by lies?

"All I mean is that we don't know how the world really is," Robbins writes in his book. "We won't know if our beliefs are true or false. What we can know, though, is if they work — if they support us, if they make our lives richer, if they make us better people, if they help us and help others."

So, yes, while these beliefs may or may not be true, Robbins says that they are nonetheless vital to the foundation of excellence.

Here are Robbins' seven lies of success:

  1. Everything happens for a reason and purpose, and it services us. Successful people focus on what's possible in a situation, no matter how much negative feedback they receive. "They believe that adversity contains the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit," he writes.
  2. There is no such thing as failure. There are only results. Failure does not exist for successful people. If the outcome wasn't what they desired, they see it as a learning opportunity. According to Robbins, "Belief in failure is a way of poisoning the mind."
  3. Whatever happens, take responsibility. High achievers believe that they create their own world and reality. Robbins says the greatest leaders have the ability to say, "It's my responsibility. I'll take care of it."
  4. It's not necessary to understand everything to be able to use everything. There's a balance between use and knowledge. Robbins says that achievers "exact the essence from a situation, take out what they need, and don't dwell on the rest."
  5. People are your greatest resource. Do you respect and appreciate your peers? People who produce outstanding results "have a sense of team, a sense of common purpose and unity," he writes.
  6. Work is play. The world's most remarkable artists, thinkers and creators found joy in their work. Bill Gates didn't create Microsoft because he hated software. Robbins reminds us of a wonderful quote by Mark Twain: "The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation."
  7. There is no abiding success without commitment. If you're just trying, and not committing, there's no promise you'll reach the end. The most successful people, says Robbins, "aren't necessarily the best and brightest, the fastest and strongest. They're the ones with the most commitment."

And there you have it — a person with seriously good intuitions about personal growth, psychology and success says that these are the seven lies of success you must believe in order to achieve excellence.


People's beliefs about the meaning of crepitus in patellofemoral pain and the impact of these beliefs on their behaviour: A qualitative study

Background: A feature of patellofemoral pain is joint crepitus. Several causes of crepitus have been described, but previous research has focused on the pathological meaning of crepitus. No research has demonstrated a definitive link between noise and pathology and its importance and meaning to patients is unresearched.

Objective: To explore the beliefs of patients with non-osteoarthritic patellofemoral pain regarding their crepitus, and how this impacts on their behaviour.

Design: Qualitative design using semi-structured interviews.

Method: A general inductive approach was used as this is a previously unresearched topic. Underpinned by the health beliefs model, an interview schedule was used to reflect different elements. Inductive thematic analysis was used to generate themes to represent the dataset. Participants were 11 patients diagnosed with non-osteoarthritic patellofemoral pain, crepitus as one of their symptoms, referred to an outpatient clinic.

Results/findings: Three key themes emerged all with sub-themes within them. Firstly, belief about the noise had a sub-theme of search for and perceived meaning of noise. Symbolising ageing was another sub-theme whereby participants described feelings of premature ageing. The final sub-theme was emotional response with participants feeling a range of negative emotions. The second theme of the influence of others reveals participants describing two distinctly different relationships, one with friends and family and one with professionals. The final theme was avoiding the noise. A sub-theme of altering movement shows participants describing fear-avoidant behaviour.

Conclusion: Crepitus is a poorly understood symptom that creates negative emotions, inaccurate etiological beliefs and ultimately leads to altered behaviour.

Keywords: Culture Fear Health beliefs Patellofemoral pain.


Wokeness is a New Religion and Christians Are Converting En Masse

As a student and teacher in the counter-cult movement for many years, I have both studied and taught how new faith-systems spawn from infancy and grow into full-fledged organized religions. It is my assessment, in no uncertain terms, that what America is witnessing is the birth of a new religion that will dwarf all other forms of religion in just a decade.

The traditional, prominent faiths of the United States – Protestant evangelicalism and Roman Catholicism – will soon be replaced by an altogether new religion that we are watching be born before our eyes. It is my belief that the rallies and protests we are seeing happen in our major cities are in fact religious gatherings.

If Christians are to survive in America, we must as soon as possible properly and accurately classify the “social justice” movement as a religion so as to receive the protections afforded us in the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution. If not, we will soon find ourselves the victims of a state-sanctioned religion that uses its power of bigotry against our more traditional Christian faith.

Sub-Christian sects such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Science, and Black Hebrew Israelites follow the same path of development as non-Christian cults like Scientology. While these faith systems might technically be classified as religions, their formation and growth is observable and quantifiable science. In short, all new religions develop in the same sociological pattern and have predictable and similar characteristics.

While the new American religion may not have an official name, it might be called the Religion of Wokeness, Social Religion, or Social Justice. Its more pseudo-Christian manifestations might be called the Popularity Gospel. Its name, like the religion itself, is in development. For the purpose of this article, it will be called the Religion of Wokeness.

DEVELOPING RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS RARELY SELF-IDENTIFY AS NEW RELIGIONS

Cults rarely self-identify as religions during their early development. In fact, the vast majority of religions known in the world today at first vehemently rejected claims that they were religions before ultimately embracing systemized modifications that would institutionalize their faith. For example, L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, famously claimed that his teachings were a branch of psychology and science and not a religion at all, but now the cult enjoys recognition as a religion with the Internal Revenue Service. Jehovah’s Witnesses, originally known as members of the Watchtower Society, denied being an organized religion from their founding in the 1880s until 1954 when the question had to be settled in a Scottish court regarding a conscientious objector to war. Even early Christians were viewed largely as adherents to Judaism with peculiar beliefs about the Messiah and not as a distinct religion until the siege of Jerusalem in 70AD.

But if largescale spiritual movements are slow to categorize themselves as religions, small cult groups are especially slow to do so. Jim Jones’ People’s Temple claimed his teachings did not constitute a new religion, as did David Koresh’s Branch Davidians who only spoke negatively of “organized religion” and the “religious establishment.” The Rajneeshees sex-cult that took over a county in Oregon in the 1980s vehemently denied being a religion and instead advertised themselves as a “lifestyle philosophy of shared community values.”

Large religious movements in the Restorationist period beginning in the 1840s typically eschewed the title “religion” as they branded themselves only as having or restoring a proper understanding of already-established religions. The Mormons, for example, claimed only to be a restoration of the Melchezidekian priesthood lost sometime after the first century, trying to tie their faith to that of the earliest church.

Other large religions, like Buddhism and Taoism, reject the title of “religion” altogether, instead claiming to be a philosophy or discipline. Rarely, if ever, does a new religion begin by calling itself a religion.

COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF RELIGIONS

There are common characteristics of most religions. Not all religions share all of these characteristics, but virtually all religions share most of these characteristics.

These characteristics of “religion” include sacred literature, identifying doctrine, strong opposition to the cultural status quo, characterization of non-adherents as lost, damned, or evil, acts of worship that include singing, prostration (kneeling), or chanting, fervent proselyting and public demonstrations of worship, some form of confession and penance, and a Messiah figure or figures – usually martyrs – who are elevated as either saints or saviors.

SACRED LITERATURE

Jews have the Torah. Christians added the New Testament. Muslims have the Quran. Mormons have the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants. Jehovah’s Witnesses have the Watchtower publication. Scientologists have the works and writings of Hubbard. Even the Rajneesh have their “Bible,” a collection of writings from Osho. Freemasons have their secret manuals. Hindus have the Vedas. Buddhists have the Tao Te Ching and Sutras.

The Religion of Wokeness has several sacred books that have produced the ideological foundation of the movement. Although the Communist Manifesto casts a large shadow across the movement, its preeminent sacred Text is Critical Race Theory, a 2001 book written by Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado. The book lays out the dogma of Woke Religion and the central religious tenets of cultural and ethnic division.

There is a whole cast of Woke prophets whose apostolic writings serve as Sacred Writ for the movement including Kimberle’ Williams Crenshaw, Cheryl Harris, Gloria Ladsen-Billings, Karen Pyke, and Camara Phyllis Jones. Supporting religious texts are provided by Saul Alinsky, Gustavo Guttierez, James Cone, and Oscar Romero.

The writings of these Woke Apostles, which provide the written canon of Woke theology, have found their way into conservative evangelical seminaries and have wholly taken over, for example, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, which both claim that their religious doctrines can help serve as “analytical tools” for better understanding culture and the Holy Bible.

IDENTIFYING DOCTRINES

All religions have easily-identifiable doctrines – or teachings – that are distinct from other faith traditions. Christians, for example, will repeat terms like propitiation, justification, or substitutionary atonement. Mormons will speak of eternal progression.

More specifically, religions systemize their theology into easy-to-understand doctrines. Calvinists, for example, use the acronym TULIP to explain their view of Christian soteriology.

Wokeness Religion also has an acronym, albeit an unfortunate one. Their acronym is DIE and stands for diversity, inclusion, and equity. These are the highest and loftiest goals for a Woke religionist to obtain. DIE is the equivalent of Christians achieving sanctification or Buddhists completing the discipline of Anatta.

To accomplish diversity, inclusion, and equity (DIE), the Religion of Wokeness promotes its core doctrines. Doctrinal terms include “whiteness,” “intersectionality,” “white privilege,” “micro-aggression,” and “systemic racism.” In the Religion of Wokeness, these terms have been assigned their own unique meaning by their apostolic writers (named above) and find their way into the religion’s literature and advertising.

CHARACTERIZING NON-ADHERENTS AS DAMNED

Most religions characterize non-adherents as damned. Christians believe in the exclusivity of Christ. Mormons, who do not believe in hell, believe that only Mormons will obtain the third level of Heaven. Muslims refer to non-adherents as infidels, worthy of death.

Few religions, however, demonize non-adherents as harshly as Woke Religionists. Those who do not chant their chants, repeat their slogans, speak from their lexicon, or march in their parades are deemed to be racists, bigots, and prejudiced. And for the Woke Religionists, it is not enough that people not oppose them…they must be with them or else.

The Religion of Wokeness may very well be the most persecutory religion, if not in history, then certainly during the 21st Century. The goal of Woke Religionists is to hunt down, find out, and unveil everyone who will not be converted and see to it that they are fired from their job, ostracized from their communities, and scorned publicly. Not even radical Islam takes such a harsh approach toward those who refuse to be converted. On a daily basis, Woke Religionists spend an inordinate amount of their time lifting up non-adherents to scorn, characterizing them as dangerous, and begging for punitive legal, financial, and societal consequences against them. Many innocent people feel it necessary to march along with the Woke Religionists (whether literally or figuratively) just to not be targeted for their sin of non-conformity.

A part of this ‘others are damned’ conviction is the tendency toward iconoclasm, the intolerance toward images or symbols that aren’t approved by the religion. Among Christians, this is seen in Protestants who disapprove of Catholic icons or Catholics who historically have destroyed Islamic sculptures. In the Religion of Wokeness, the tendency toward iconoclasm is more violent than at any time since the Crusades. As a part of their religious zeal, they have violently and criminally taken down any statue or flag they believe is contrary to their religion, even if on public or private property belonging to others.

ACTS OF WORSHIP THAT INCLUDE SINGING, CHANTING, BOWING OR KNEELING

Purely philosophical movements or purely social movements do not include worship as a defining characteristic. However, all religious movements include the traditional components of worship including singing, chanting, bowing, or kneeling.

Christians sing corporate songs of worship. Catholics often kneel for communion. Muslims bow to Mecca. Ancient Christians in the East eerily chanted. These are all religious acts of worship.

Woke Religionists are engaging in these acts regularly. They can be seen bowing before their woke leaders, as Caucasians in the religion have been placing their faces on the ground before the feet of their black counterparts. Meanwhile, black adherents to the movement can be seen bowing before the police. Corporations that feel forced to affirm the religion defend the rights of protestors to bow at inopportune times as though it were religious liberty.

Mass religious services, which are sometimes called “protests” but often fit the qualifications of a riot, include singing and chanting slogans and phrases that hearken back to Woke doctrines and using slogans that convey those doctrines. In fact, Woke Religion’s public gatherings include singing as frequently as Christians sing in church. You won’t find a protest without it.

CONFESSION AND PENANCE

Religions almost universally have a system of confession and penance. Catholicism has the confessional booth and priest-mandated penance. Scientology has “auditing.” Islam has the citation of the Shahadah. Orthodox Christianity requires an initial public profession of faith upon conversion – centered upon the act of baptism – in which confession of sin and status as a sinner is acknowledged, along with professed trust in the accomplished work of Christ for forgiveness.

The Religion of Wokeness includes confession also. Chiefly, those who are not of ethnic minority status need to publicly confess and denounce their “white privilege,” a concept invented by the Woke Religion apostles mentioned above.

White Privilege is the Woke Religion’s equivalent of Original Sin, the Christian teaching that we are born with the sin-guilt inherited from Adam. Although Christianity teaches that by faith we lose whatever guilt or shame we have inherited through Adam, Woke theology insists that all white people have guilt on account of being white because they have inherited certain privileges that people of color do not enjoy. Because whites have privileges that their ancestors stole from the ancestors of slaves, they reason, white people today must apologize for those privileges.

To properly atone for your white privilege, or pay penance, you must use your white privilege to help end it. This means electing politicians who will promote universal basic income (UBI), an increased minimum wage, a budget-busting welfare state, and mandated affirmative action to support ethnic minorities, women, students, the poor, and sexual deviants.

The penance paid for white guilt is not to remove slavery, but reverse it. In short, getting rid of all privilege (wealth, property, or opportunities) is not enough to atone for the sin. Privilege must be transferred from oppressor groups (white, heterosexual males) to oppressed groups (basically everyone else).

Transferring wealth, property, opportunity, and power to the “underprivileged” is the price of salvation in the Religion of Wokeness.

A Messiah-Figure, Usually a Martyr, Who is Extolled as Savior

Most religions have a messiah-figure who is extolled as a savior or, at the very least, an extolled high prophet. And most of the time, that messiah-figure is a martyr, dying for their cause.

The clearest example of this is in Christianity, in which our Messiah-figure is literally the Jewish Messiah who died on the cross for our sins. But other religions have these figures as well.

Islam has Muhammad, Mormonism has Joseph Smith, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have Charles Taze Russell, Buddhists have Buddha, the Branch Davidians had David Koresh, and the Rajneesh have Osho. Although not all messiah-figures are murdered, most are characterized by suffering.

Within these religions, no contrary opinions about the messiahs can be tolerated. Mormons cannot discuss Joseph Smith’s suspect moral character and prophetic failures. Muslims cannot discuss Muhammad’s pedophilia. The Davidians could not complain about Koresh’s child brides.

The Religion of Wokeness also has its messiahs. Dr. Martin Luther King enjoys the highest status of sainthood among them, and his history as a sex-trafficker, adulterer, and homosexual cannot be discussed without being excommunicated from the religion for blasphemy. A number of lesser saints also enjoy religious worship, including Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, or Philando Castile.

Graffiti artist Eme Freethinker kneels in front of his portrait of George Floyd, which he painted on one of the last remaining sections of the Berlin Wall. “I remember when I came in [to paint it], some guy told me, ‘You have to do it with the police over his neck,'” Freethinker says, “and I was like: ‘No, man. Not like that. No.'”

These individuals, who range from law-abiding citizens to violent criminals who were killed while attacking police or resisting arrest, are the de facto saints of Woke Religion. Their names are set-aside as holy and sacred, their memories as sacrosanct, their testimonies as infallible.

Today, people are lifting up the image of George Floyd like an icon of holiness. Few feel the courage to point out that he was a felon with a violent criminal past, a pornographer, engaged consistently in criminal behavior, and died with enough drugs in his system to kill a horse. He is, nonetheless, holy — in a religious sense — to Woke Religionists. To point out his character is blasphemy of the highest order and deserving of full ex-communication.

Even Floyd’s name is held sacred, with religious observers demanding people “say his name” and yet not dare misuse it. The transition of Wokeness as a social movement into a religion is so complete they have even co-opted the Judeo-Christian Third Commandment, “Thou shalt not take my name in vain.”

CHRISTIANS ARE CONVERTING TO WOKE RELIGION EN MASSE

For the last three months, most evangelical leaders have refused to open their doors for worship. Claiming that gathering publicly would hurt their Christian witness, violate Romans 13, and be unloving to their neighbor, their doors have remained shut (many of them until this very day).

And yet, evangelical leaders like Ed Stetzer, David Platt, and Ron Burns (also known as “Thabiti Anyabwile”) have all refused to open their doors to worship Jesus. Yet still, all of them organized religious gatherings for the church of Wokeness. They marched and organized mass gatherings to “protest” (worship) rather than opening their Protestant church doors for Christ.

What could possibly be a reason for refusing to have church services but still meeting in mass gatherings for Wokeness? There is only one plausible answer. They have converted from Christianity in the embrace of the Popularity Gospel.

The Religion of Wokeness is not compatible with Christianity. It has its own doctrines, own worship, own ordinances (chiefly, protest and virtue-signaling), and own messiah-figures. It has its own, competing version of confession, repentance, and atonement.

True Christians need to reject Wokeness – and the high priests of Wokeness – as fierce opposition to the Lordship of Christ and true religion.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…(Matthew 6:24).

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How Come Some People Believe in the Paranormal?

I loved magic shows when I was a kid. I remember being absolutely fascinated by mysterious events and the possibility that some of us might possess supernatural powers such as the ability to read minds, get a glimpse of the future, or, perhaps, suddenly port into another dimension. The human mind is a curious one. Although it is well-known that children have a lively imagination, what about adults? You might be surprised to learn that a recent national poll found that over 71% of Americans believe in &ldquomiracles&rdquo, 42% of Americans believe that &ldquoghosts&rdquo exist, 41% think that &ldquoextrasensory perception&rdquo (e.g., telepathy) is possible and 29% believe in astrology.

Other recent polls have indicated that public belief in things like conspiracy theories or other pseudo-scientific phenomena are equally prevalent. For example, 21% of Americans think the government is hiding aliens, 28% of Americans believe that a mysterious, secret elite power is plotting a New World Order (NWO) and 14% of Americans believe in Bigfoot. Recent psychological research has found a surprising relationship between these types of personal convictions espousal of conspiracy theories, pseudo-science and belief in the paranormal turn out to be highly correlated with one another. What could explain these findings?

While perhaps belief in say, lizard people and astrology seem relatively unrelated on the surface, so-called &ldquomagical thinking&rdquo may very well have a common underlying &ldquocognitive style&rdquo &mdash that is, the way in which we think about and make sense of the world. In fact, a new study explored this very question and suggests that the answer may indeed lie in the way we think about things, or, more precisely, the way in which we fail to think about things.

Two researchers at the University of Toulouse in France set out to investigate to what extent &ldquocognitive thinking styles&rdquo are predictive of believing in the paranormal after experiencing an &ldquouncanny&rdquo event. The research team designed a number of clever experiments to test their hypothesis. In the first study, the researchers invited students on campus to participate in an experiment that investigated astrological signs as a predictor of one&rsquos personality. After providing their date of birth, participants received a personality description that matched their astral theme. In reality, each person was given the same 10 &ldquoBarnum&rdquo statements. These are statements that could ring true for nearly anyone (e.g., &ldquoyou have a need for people to like you&rdquo or &ldquoat times you have serious doubts about whether you have made the right decision&rdquo). Participants were then asked to evaluate how accurate they thought this description was. Before starting the experiment, participants were also asked to complete a Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) as well as a &ldquoParanormal Belief&rdquo questionnaire. The cognitive reflection test is a very short three-item test that essentially measures whether you are more of an intuitive or reflective thinker. Consider the following example if a baseball and a bat cost $1.10 and the bat costs $1 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost? The quick and intuitive answer that comes to mind for most people is simply .10. Yet, this is also the wrong answer. More reflective thinkers tend to suppress this automatic and intuitive answer and are more suspicious of the first thing that comes to mind. (If you&rsquore curious, the correct answer is: .05).

The researchers found that although both intuitive and reflective thinkers somewhat recognized the statements as being descriptive of their personality, reflective thinkers were much less likely to recognize the Barnum statements as correct. This relationship persisted after controlling for any prior differences in paranormal beliefs. The authors speculated that in contrast to reflective minds, intuitive thinkers might be more likely to accept their &ldquouncanny&rdquo experience as proof for the existence of supernatural phenomena.

To test this assertion more directly, the researchers conducted another experiment. In the second experiment, a different group of students were studied, but this time they were told that the purpose of the study was to examine telepathy (i.e., mind-reading). The research team hired a fake participant to act as the &ldquomind-reader.&rdquo During the experiment, participants were told to randomly pick a card out of a set of five, and then the other participant (the confederate) would &ldquoread&rdquo their mind by guessing what card they had picked (the experiment was rigged of course). This time, the experimenters asked participants directly whether they thought the event was simply a result of luck, probability or a non-scientific explanation such as extrasensory perception (ESP). Results showed that irrespective of prior convictions, non-reflective thinkers were indeed more likely to endorse ESP as an explanation for their &ldquouncanny&rdquo experience whereas reflective thinkers were more likely to see the event as a statistical fluke.

Interestingly, one question the researchers did not answer is why intuitive minds are more likely to engage in such &ldquomagical thinking?&rdquo Cognitive psychologists have offered one possible explanation the &ldquoconjunction fallacy.&rdquo The conjunction fallacy was coined by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky and basically describes a reasoning error where people mistakenly assume that specific conditions are more likely than general ones. For example, consider the following two statements (A) Linda can predict the future and (B) Linda can predict the future and also read your mind. Logically, the probability of two events occurring together (in &ldquoconjunction&rdquo) is always less than or equal to the probability of either event occurring alone. In other words, although option B may sound completely plausible due to the misleading &ldquorepresentativeness&rdquo of the two events (precognition and mindreading), the laws of probability tell us that the likelihood that Linda can do two separate magical things is always less likely (or equal) to the probability that she can do either one alone.

Recent research has shown that people who espouse paranormal and conspiratorial beliefs are much more susceptible to the conjunction-fallacy. For example, consider the fact that people often endorse multiple (or contradictory) conspiracy theories about the same event, where belief in one conspiracy serves as evidence for belief in another. Yet, the likelihood that two (or many) different conspiratorial explanations about world events are all true at the same time is increasingly unlikely. Similarly, belief in one paranormal phenomenon might quickly lead to the belief that many &ldquomagical&rdquo things are happening (it can&rsquot merely be coincidence).

You might ask: Why kill the magic? Not everything needs to be explained by science. Yet misinformation of this kind can be harmful. For example, in a recent study, I found that merely exposing people to a 2-minute conspiracy video clip significantly decreases acceptance of science, civic engagement, and overall pro-social inclinations. I call this the &ldquoconspiracy-effect&rdquo. Although I did not measure cognitive style, non-reflective thinkers may be especially vulnerable to such misinformation. Similarly, the French research team notes that non-reflective individuals may be vulnerable to scams. Indeed, millions of dollars are made every year by people who (falsely) claim that they can read your mind or talk to deceased family members.

Is there any way to protect people from falling prey to such magical thinking? There is some evidence. Research has suggested that these type of intuitive beliefs often interact with emotional processes. Accordingly, a recent study showed that priming people to think more reflectively reduces tendencies to engage in, for example, conspiratorial thinking. It is important to note, however, that neither &ldquointuitive&rdquo nor &ldquoreflective&rdquo thinking alone is always better, as both thinking styles often work together. For example, when overwhelmed by a large number of competing choice options, relying on an instinctive gut feeling can be useful (the &ldquoless is more&rdquo effect). The real trick is figuring out when to rely a little more on your gut feelings and when to draw a little more on your analytical powers. Although our intuition serves us well in some cases, we may all benefit from a little more reflective thinking before we decide to accept uncanny explanations about the nature of reality.

Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology? And have you read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about? Please send suggestions to Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook. Gareth, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, is the series editor of Best American Infographics and can be reached at garethideas AT gmail.com or Twitter @garethideas.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

Sander van der Linden is a social-psychologist and lecturer at Princeton University. His research explores the psychology of social influence, judgment, and decision-making. He runs a blog &ldquosocially relevant&rdquo at Psychology Today.


A Satanic structure

The entire top-down church administrative structure of the Catholics, as well as many other churches, owes its survival to maintaining what the Nicolaitans taught and promoted.

The deceptive doctrine of these people is that a strict hierarchy of control must be maintained and respected within the church. Ranks and levels are created in order to maintain power so that those considered part of the lowest level of the church (the members) can be taken advantage of at will. The whole system feeds on competition and strife among those who consider themselves believers in Jesus.

The Lord not only demands repentance from those who believe the doctrine of the Nicolaitans but also threatens severe punishment if they do not. God warns those who practice such lies, "Remember therefore from where you have fallen . . . or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place" (Revelation 2:5). May the warning be heeded!


Seven Movies That Changed People’s Political Views

According to a study recently published in Social Science Quarterly, Hollywood is making you more liberal. The study, titled “Moving Pictures? Experimental Evidence of Cinematic Influence on Political Attitudes,” was co-authored by Todd Adkins and Jeremiah Castle of the University of Notre Dame. It found that viewers who watched a movie with a message on health care (either Francis Ford Coppola’s fairly polemical The Rainmaker or James L. Brooks’ more subtle As Good As It Gets) generally saw their support for the Affordable Care Act, or similar policies, increase.

“We find significant evidence that viewers of both As Good As it Gets and The Rainmaker became more liberal on health-care-related policies as a result of watching the movies, with this change persisting two weeks after viewing the films,” the authors wrote. “Such evidence strongly supports our contention that popular films possess the capability to change attitudes on political issues. We believe the potential for popular films to generate lasting attitudinal change presents an important area for future research.”

So, The Rainmaker and As Good As It Gets might make you like Obamacare more, or hate it less intensely. While we’re at it, here are five other major motion pictures that—according to science—possibly reshaped your political views without you even knowing it. Many of these are also referenced in Adkins and Castle’s study. We only chose the films for which we could find a scientific study supporting claims that they altered political opinions.

1. JFKdestroyed your faith in the American political system.
You may or may not agree with the political messages presented in the other films on this list. But at least they motivated their audiences to care about an issue, to take a stance. Precisely the opposite happened, however, in a study of the “psychological consequences” of seeing the extremely controversial 1991 conspiracy drama JFK, directed by Oliver Stone. In a 1995 study of viewers before and after seeing the film, Stanford University psychologist Lisa Butler and her colleagues found that seeing JFK “doubled the level of anger” of viewers. What’s more, it also seems to have affected their political intentions. Seeing the film “was associated with a significant decrease in viewers’ reported intentions to vote or make political contributions.” The researchers attributed this response to a “general helplessness effect” engendered by seeing the film: The vast conspiracy (supposedly encompassing the CIA, the military-industrial complex, the mob, and some of the most powerful figures in American government) proposed by the filmmakers made people feel powerless.

2. The Day After Tomorrow made you care more about global warming.
Yes, yes, we know it wasn’t scientifically accurate or plausible. But did the 2004 disaster film, in which global warming somehow manages to bring on a new Ice Age (you are right to scratch your head), make audiences more worried about climate change? According to a study by current Yale researcher Anthony Leiserowitz, the answer is yes. Leiserowitz conducted a national survey three weeks after the film’s release and found that 83 percent of film viewers said they were “somewhat” or “very concerned” about global warming, compared with 72 percent of nonwatchers. Moviegoers were also more likely to believe in the likelihood that a variety of climate-related impacts, ranging from more extreme weather to the flooding of major cities, would occur in the next 50 years. The study only sampled 529 people, but The Day After Tomorrow grossed more than $500 million globally. So one can infer it had a pretty significant effect on public opinion around the world.

3. The Cider House Rules turned you pro-abortion rights.
In the Academy Award–winning 1999 film (directed by Lasse Hallström and starring Tobey Maguire and Charlize Theron), Michael Caine portrays Dr. Wilbur Larch, an ether-addicted abortionist. The movie is set in Maine during World War II, when the state was under a hugely restrictive abortion ban. The compassionate Dr. Larch performs the procedure for young women in dire straits. When screenwriter and author John Irving won the Oscar for penning the film’s script, he thanked “everyone at Planned Parenthood” and NARAL Pro-Choice America at the end of his acceptance speech.

So it’s not too surprising that a 2011 study by Kenneth Mulligan and Philip Habel at Southern Illinois University found that the “fictional framing” of the abortion issue in The Cider House Rules made audiences more supportive of safe and legal abortion. “[P]articipants who were randomly assigned to watch [The Cider House Rules] were more favorable toward legalized abortion in the case of incest than those in the control group,” the authors wrote. In fact, they added, “the movie had a significant effect despite the fact that opinions on abortion tend to be deeply entrenched.”


Why QAnon followers believe: The psychology of embracing far-right conspiracy theories

By Nicole Karlis
Published August 11, 2018 2:00PM (EDT)

Supporters cheer for Donald Trump as he speaks at a rally. (Getty/Scott Olson)

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You have likely heard of latest right-wing conspiracy theory “QAnon” by now since it has hit the mainstream media. Not only does it have many of us on the outside questioning how we got here as a society, but it also raises peculiar questions about the human condition. Why are some people more prone to believing conspiracy theories than others?

If you are unfamiliar, QAnon — sometimes referred to as “the Storm” — is a pro-Trump conspiracy theory that has created a cultish culture on the internet. It began when a pseudonymous ring leader calling themselves “Q” began posting on the anonymous internet forums 4Chan and 8Chan in late 2017 (hence the name “QAnon”). The conspiracy theory itself is long-winded and slightly complicated, but it boils down to this: Q claims to have uncovered evidence that high-profile Democrats are pedophiles, and President Donald Trump is leading the fight against the group. Q communicates to his followers through obscure “crumbs.”

In other words, it takes the Pizzagate lie to the next level, and the level of absurdity raises the question of whether we are all being trolled. BuzzFeed has made the case that a leftist prankster could be pulling an elaborate prank on Trump supporters with QAnon. Whoever QAnon is, though, some of his followers have proven to be devoted through the so-called conspiracy in dangerous ways. In June, a group of Arizona veterans thought a homeless camp was a child-sex camp, which led to local authorities seriously investigating the claim. In July, Michael Avenatti was targeted by QAnon.

Americans with far-right political views are no strangers to conspiracy theories. Alex Jones of Infowars is notorious for spreading them, and he has millions of followers. While there is no direct and clear answer as to why some people believe in conspiracy theories and others don’t, a group of psychologists have narrowed down a few possibilities.

“There are many factors that draw people toward conspiracy theories. Some of them are related to aspects of a person's personality (e.g., narcissism, Machiavellianism, mistrust) and others are associated with social factors (e.g., powerlessness, education, age),” Karen Douglas, a Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Kent, Canterbury, told Salon in an email.

In 2017, a group of researchers including Douglas at the University of Kent published a paper titled “The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories,” in which they suggested conspiracy theories are driven by three factors: epistemic, existential and social.

“First, conspiracy beliefs are linked to the way people process information. People have a higher tendency to believe in conspiracy theories if they feel uncertain and are motivated to find meaning or patterns in their environment,” Aleksandra Cichocka, another one of the authors and a Senior Lecturer in Political Psychology School of Psychology at the University of Kent told Salon in an email. “Conspiracy beliefs are also linked to lower levels of analytical thinking.”

The second reason relates to existentialism.

“Conspiracy beliefs increase when people feel anxious, powerless or that they lack control over their lives,” she said. “In these situations, they might be motivated to think that someone else is ‘pulling the strings’ (as Douglas and others put it).”

Regarding the possible third reason, “social,” it might have to do with a deep desire to belong to a group.

“And third, conspiracy beliefs are linked to the need maintain a positive image of oneself and the social groups one belongs to,” she said. “For example, belief in conspiracy theories is higher among members of marginalised or disadvantaged groups. Presumably, believing in a conspiracy allows them to place blame for any negative experiences on others.”

But what is it about the far-right that encourages such wild theories to spread? As Cichocka explained, there is evidence that the far-left is likely to believe in conspiracy theories too. Indeed, the popularity of conspiracy theories aren’t linked to a specific group, but rather to “extremists.” A 2014 study by University of Chicago political science professors Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood found that each year they surveyed samples of the population, half of Americans believed in a conspiracy theory. Specifically, 24 percent of Americans (at the time of the study) believed former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States and 19 percent of Americans believed the U.S. government was responsible for 9/11.

“It could [be] that extremists on both sides are drawn to conspiracy theories, especially if they feel marginalised or disadvantaged,” she said. “Thus, if far-right conservatives felt marginalised in the US, this might have created a fertile ground for conspiracy theories.”

“In the end, believing there is a conspiracy can help people explain why they are not getting the recognition they feel is due to them,” she added.

Douglas explained once someone believes in a conspiracy, it can be hard to change one’s mind (although it is possible to “inoculate” one).

“In general, once ideas become fixed, they are difficult to shake off,” Douglas told Salon in an email. “So once a person believes in a conspiracy theory it is difficult to convince them otherwise.”

“Alternative explanations are often quite mundane too and conspiracy explanations tend to be more proportional to the events themselves, which makes them more interesting,” she added, noting more research needs to be done on this topic.


Watch the video: Shahrukh and Gauri Khan finally Arrived to met Aryan Khan in Jail after NCBs Judicial Custody (June 2022).


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