Friends with benefits

I’m not surprising anyone when I say humans are a social species, both from the biological definition and from our own self-description. But it goes further than that – we’re socially-influenced and socially-dependent, meaning we make a really stunning number of our decisions based on how we feel others will respond to them, often […]

Fair’s fair

In a recent discussion about religion, someone told me that I had to be fair and consider all the good that religion does along with the bad, far from the first time I’ve heard this directive. It sounds innocent, and in fact, praiseworthy on the face of it, but it’s almost offensive in its […]

What are you afraid of?

I’ve had this topic sitting in the background of any number of posts, and have been meaning to address it in detail for at least a year. In the wake of even more muslim-related violence and a long string of christian hand-wringing, now is as good a time as any.

While I’m going to […]

Excuses, excuses

Some time back, I posted about an article published in Skeptic magazine regarding religion and violence. As I gave some indication then, discussions about the topic tend to be very superficial, and in a lot of cases deal with popular misconceptions and gross misrepresentations. Yet it’s a topic that, without a doubt, deserves a […]

Missing the forest: religious violence

In the latest issue of Skeptic magazine (Vol 16 No 2), there’s an article by Benjamin Grant Purzycki and Kyle Gibson regarding religious violence, which raises the question: does religion cause violence, or are we mistaking correlation for causation? This is an exceptionally intriguing question. Confusing correlation for causation is one of the fallacies with which skeptics are usually quite familiar, having to correct it all the time when discussing such subjects as alternative medicine. Skeptics are not immune to blind spots, however, and pointing out where such exists is a valuable lesson and a great example of holding honesty and fairness above agendas. Moreover, I have argued myself that religious wars can often be shown to have the same motives as any other wars, such as resource control and power structure. So I read the article eagerly to see just what kind of study had been done.

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