Author Topic: Reminders of Secular Authority Reduce Believers’ Distrust of Atheists  (Read 1438 times)

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Offline Jetavan

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Atheists have long been distrusted, in part because they do not believe that a watchful, judging god monitors their behavior. However, in many parts of the world, secular institutions such as police, judges, and courts are also potent sources of social monitoring that encourage prosocial behavior. Reminders of such secular authority could therefore reduce believers’ distrust of atheists. In our experiments, participants who watched a video about police effectiveness (Experiment 1) or were subtly primed with secular-authority concepts (Experiments 2–3) expressed less distrust of atheists than did participants who watched a control video or were not primed, respectively.
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Offline Big Chris

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Since when did atheists go seeking out theists' approval?
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Offline J Michael

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Atheists have long been distrusted, in part because they do not believe that a watchful, judging god monitors their behavior. However, in many parts of the world, secular institutions such as police, judges, and courts are also potent sources of social monitoring that encourage prosocial behavior. Reminders of such secular authority could therefore reduce believers’ distrust of atheists. In our experiments, participants who watched a video about police effectiveness (Experiment 1) or were subtly primed with secular-authority concepts (Experiments 2–3) expressed less distrust of atheists than did participants who watched a control video or were not primed, respectively.

Yawn.

This might be interesting for academic psychologists who have nothing better to do, but for the rest of us, not so much, I think.  Especially those of us who try to determine whether or not we trust people, not on the basis of what they believe or disbelieve, but on who they are as individuals and whether or not they (and we) have shown trustworthiness.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2012, 11:29:22 AM by J Michael »
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Since when did atheists go seeking out theists' approval?

When running for elected office, when helping a charity, when going on a date, when applying for a job, when trying to find an advisor at university, when buying a house... . . . .. etc...

Offline Peter J

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Yawn.

This might be interesting for academic psychologists who have nothing better to do, but for the rest of us, not so much, I think.  Especially those of us who try to determine whether or not we trust people, not on the basis of what they believe or disbelieve, but on who they are as individuals and whether or not they (and we) have shown trustworthiness.

Wow, you seem really uninterested!  :o
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Offline J Michael

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Yawn.

This might be interesting for academic psychologists who have nothing better to do, but for the rest of us, not so much, I think.  Especially those of us who try to determine whether or not we trust people, not on the basis of what they believe or disbelieve, but on who they are as individuals and whether or not they (and we) have shown trustworthiness.

Wow, you seem really uninterested!  :o

Yes--uninterested in the article/study.  And judging by the number of replies, others here don't seem to be particularly interested either.   :o
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Offline Peter J

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And judging by the number of replies, others here don't seem to be particularly interested either.   :o

True, but not particularly uninterested either. Not interested enough to tell us they're interested, but not uninterested enough to tell us they're uninterested.
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Offline J Michael

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And judging by the number of replies, others here don't seem to be particularly interested either.   :o

True, but not particularly uninterested either. Not interested enough to tell us they're interested, but not uninterested enough to tell us they're uninterested.

 ::)
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Offline Justin Kissel

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It doesn't surprise me that people haven't been responding much: who wants to face the idea that they're prejudice and can have their minds toyed with by trivial outside influences?

Offline J Michael

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It doesn't surprise me that people haven't been responding much: who wants to face the idea that they're prejudice and can have their minds toyed with by trivial outside influences?

Is that why they're not responding?  And here I thought it was just out of lack of interest.  Maybe that's just my prejudice.  Hmmm....I guess we'll only ever know *if* the non-responders choose to respond and tell us why they haven't been responding  ;).
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Offline witega

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It doesn't surprise me that people haven't been responding much: who wants to face the idea that they're prejudice and can have their minds toyed with by trivial outside influences?

Or maybe this is so obvious a point that there doesn't seem to be much to discuss?
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Offline Justin Kissel

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It doesn't surprise me that people haven't been responding much: who wants to face the idea that they're prejudice and can have their minds toyed with by trivial outside influences?

Or maybe this is so obvious a point that there doesn't seem to be much to discuss?

You give people too much credit, far too much.

Offline J Michael

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It doesn't surprise me that people haven't been responding much: who wants to face the idea that they're prejudice and can have their minds toyed with by trivial outside influences?

Or maybe this is so obvious a point that there doesn't seem to be much to discuss?

You give people too much credit, far too much.

I tend to agree with witega about this.

Do you, perhaps, not give people *enough* credit?
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 02:01:40 PM by J Michael »
"May Thy Cross, O Lord, in which I seek refuge, be for me a bridge across the great river of fire.  May I pass along it to the habitation of life." ~St. Ephraim the Syrian

"Sometimes you're the windshield.  Sometimes you're the bug." ~ Mark Knopfler (?)

Offline witega

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It doesn't surprise me that people haven't been responding much: who wants to face the idea that they're prejudice and can have their minds toyed with by trivial outside influences?

Or maybe this is so obvious a point that there doesn't seem to be much to discuss?

You give people too much credit, far too much.

That may be the first time I have ever been accused of such. Perhaps I'm making progress.
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Offline Justin Kissel

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I think most Christians distrust atheists because they think atheists deny God and therefore having no moral rock; or going even further, that atheists deny God because they want to be free to be wicked.

Offline Red A.

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I think most Christians distrust atheists because they think atheists deny God and therefore having no moral rock; or going even further, that atheists deny God because they want to be free to be wicked.
Right and wrong are just what they decide it is from situation to situation or is just limited to what the law will let them can get away with. Most people do this anyway, but atheists make this their starting point.

Offline Peter J

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I think most Christians distrust atheists because they think atheists deny God and therefore having no moral rock; or going even further, that atheists deny God because they want to be free to be wicked.

This is a bit off-topic, but Pope Benedict invited a couple agnostics to speak at the 2011 World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi (which marked the 25th anniversary of the 1986 World Day of Prayer for Peace).
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Offline HabteSelassie

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Atheists have long been distrusted, in part because they do not believe that a watchful, judging god monitors their behavior. However, in many parts of the world, secular institutions such as police, judges, and courts are also potent sources of social monitoring that encourage prosocial behavior. Reminders of such secular authority could therefore reduce believers’ distrust of atheists. In our experiments, participants who watched a video about police effectiveness (Experiment 1) or were subtly primed with secular-authority concepts (Experiments 2–3) expressed less distrust of atheists than did participants who watched a control video or were not primed, respectively.

Yawn.

This might be interesting for academic psychologists who have nothing better to do, but for the rest of us, not so much, I think.  Especially those of us who try to determine whether or not we trust people, not on the basis of what they believe or disbelieve, but on who they are as individuals and whether or not they (and we) have shown trustworthiness.

It seems this is an experiment trying to draw on the principle of the power of authority, like the infamous Zimbardo-Stanford basement experience or the Milgram experiment which demonstrated that people rely on their assumptions of authority and power to make social decisions.  People are more aggressive when it is authorized.  People are crueler when authority justifies it.  So people might try to add legitimacy to atheism in the sense that the societal roles of our communities fulfills the "omnipresent" eye in the sky.  In other words, a secular argument against religion being the source for morality.  Of course, any person even remotely familiar with ethics understands that morality is separate but can be related to religion.  Like Dawkins correctly points out, if folks are practicing morality strictly out of fear of retribution by a vengeful God, that is not genuine or sincere morality. I agree with this.  So morality, both for Christians and atheists alike, but stem from a sincere, mutual respect for people. This argument from the OP seems to suggest that atheists can have a secular morality where the omnipresent eye of God is replaced by the constant eye of social authority figures, both symbolically and literally.  This may be indeed correct, however, like Dawkins criticism, it is not really an empathy based sense of morality.  Further, remember like Apostle Paul says, Christians respect the secular authorities of the world, the police, the teachers, the governments, precisely because they are ministers of God's authority.  It is God who synergetically cooperates through the secular or societal authorities, which is to say, that all power and authority come from God.  We as Christians respect authority to submit to God's will.  Therefore we are not necessarily applicable to the results of studies like the Milgram study, because we do not necessarily follow the authority of the white lab coat or the priests' robes strictly because of their own human authority, rather because they symbolize the actual power of God, so we have a different ontology.

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Offline Ansgar

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Just to be completely sure, they want to make people trust atheists by making them trust secular authorities? 
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Offline HabteSelassie

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Just to be completely sure, they want to make people trust atheists by making them trust secular authorities?  

No, it seems that they are suggesting that since religious people seem to revert to trusting authority (as the Milgram and Zimbardo studies mutually suggest) aside from religion, that they also should then be able to trust atheists.  Of course, the premise seems off, do any of y'all actually have a problem trusting atheists?

stay blessed,
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« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 03:50:55 PM by HabteSelassie »
"Yet stand aloof from stupid questionings and geneologies and strifes and fightings about law, for they are without benefit and vain." Titus 3:10

Offline Ansgar

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Of course, the premise seems off, do any of y'all actually have a problem trusting atheists?

If I had a problem with trusting atheists, I would not be able to not trust my brothers, my friends, my teachers, together with about 80 % of the danish population, so I guess my answer must be no.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 03:55:45 PM by Ansgar »
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Offline J Michael

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Just to be completely sure, they want to make people trust atheists by making them trust secular authorities? 

No, it seems that they are suggesting that since religious people seem to revert to trusting authority (as the Milgram and Zimbardo studies mutually suggest) aside from religion, that they also should then be able to trust atheists.  Of course, the premise seems off, do any of y'all actually have a problem trusting atheists?

stay blessed,
habte selassie

No, but sometimes I have a problem trusting alpacas.  ;D

I say that purposely to highlight that I think the notion of putting a vague, generalized kind of "trust" in an amorphous, generalized, vague group whose sole identified common denominator is equally vague and generalized, seems to me somewhat absurd.  But, that's just me.
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Offline HabteSelassie

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Just to be completely sure, they want to make people trust atheists by making them trust secular authorities? 

No, it seems that they are suggesting that since religious people seem to revert to trusting authority (as the Milgram and Zimbardo studies mutually suggest) aside from religion, that they also should then be able to trust atheists.  Of course, the premise seems off, do any of y'all actually have a problem trusting atheists?

stay blessed,
habte selassie

No, but sometimes I have a problem trusting alpacas.  ;D

I say that purposely to highlight that I think the notion of putting a vague, generalized kind of "trust" in an amorphous, generalized, vague group whose sole identified common denominator is equally vague and generalized, seems to me somewhat absurd.  But, that's just me.

I think the "trust" this study is talking about is not the more philosophical trust that theologians speak of, but rather practical, instinctive, day-to-day trust that humans have with social interactions.  We trust that gravity keeps us grounded, it is not entirely a matter of faith but a pragmatic assumption based on experience.  We also inherently trust our social structures.  We trust the mutual and subconscious rules of etiquette, of appropriate behavior, of what gestures and miming signifies, etc etc.  We may sometimes take this instinctive trust for granted, but it is instinct that trust a smile, or distrust a person who doesn't follow societal norms.  We don't trust them with our money or to babysit our children, but do trust that strangers we encounter are necessarily going to randomly harm or abuse us.  This is the kind of trust I think they are talking about.  The same way that people seem to automatically trust the authority of a lab coat, uniform, badge, or priests' vestments.  We trust them, because they are symbols of the fixtures of our realities.  But why?

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habte selassie
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Offline J Michael

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Just to be completely sure, they want to make people trust atheists by making them trust secular authorities? 

No, it seems that they are suggesting that since religious people seem to revert to trusting authority (as the Milgram and Zimbardo studies mutually suggest) aside from religion, that they also should then be able to trust atheists.  Of course, the premise seems off, do any of y'all actually have a problem trusting atheists?

stay blessed,
habte selassie

No, but sometimes I have a problem trusting alpacas.  ;D

I say that purposely to highlight that I think the notion of putting a vague, generalized kind of "trust" in an amorphous, generalized, vague group whose sole identified common denominator is equally vague and generalized, seems to me somewhat absurd.  But, that's just me.

I think the "trust" this study is talking about is not the more philosophical trust that theologians speak of, but rather practical, instinctive, day-to-day trust that humans have with social interactions.  We trust that gravity keeps us grounded, it is not entirely a matter of faith but a pragmatic assumption based on experience.  We also inherently trust our social structures.  We trust the mutual and subconscious rules of etiquette, of appropriate behavior, of what gestures and miming signifies, etc etc.  We may sometimes take this instinctive trust for granted, but it is instinct that trust a smile, or distrust a person who doesn't follow societal norms.  We don't trust them with our money or to babysit our children, but do trust that strangers we encounter are necessarily going to randomly harm or abuse us.  This is the kind of trust I think they are talking about.  The same way that people seem to automatically trust the authority of a lab coat, uniform, badge, or priests' vestments.  We trust them, because they are symbols of the fixtures of our realities.  But why?

stay blessed,
habte selassie

I could, but won't, take issue with a number of the sentences above, because I understand what you're getting at.

I still think that the study of the OP is eminently yawn-worthy and of very little relevance to just about anyone other than the psychologists who conducted it, and the participants in it who were probably paid to participate.  So, the $$ would have been quite relevant to them  :D, if not the subject matter.

One thing I do tend not to trust, with exceptions of course, are studies.  I mentioned in another thread how poorly so many studies are designed, how many biases can be inherent in the design, etc., etc.  So, when someone mentions this or that study, without knowing the quality of the design and methodology, and who is paying for it and why, it raises red flags for me.
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Offline akimori makoto

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It doesn't surprise me that people haven't been responding much: who wants to face the idea that they're prejudice and can have their minds toyed with by trivial outside influences?

Anyone who has read any psychological literature knows that we are this way: and worse.
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Offline ialmisry

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Transfer people's trust from God to the state.  That always works out well in the end.
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Transfer people's trust from God to the state.  That always works out well in the end.
Especially when that state is corrupt.
“There is your brother, naked, crying, and you stand there confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering.”

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Offline ialmisry

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Transfer people's trust from God to the state.  That always works out well in the end.
Especially when that state is corrupt.
That never happens. Big Brother always knows what is best for you, and only has your best interests at heart.
Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
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Offline Shiny

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Transfer people's trust from God to the state.  That always works out well in the end.
Especially when that state is corrupt.
That never happens. Big Brother always knows what is best for you, and only has your best interests at heart.
Quite the heart that it has.
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Offline yeshuaisiam

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I think most Christians distrust atheists because they think atheists deny God and therefore having no moral rock; or going even further, that atheists deny God because they want to be free to be wicked.

My view of Atheists is that they want to follow their own will.  This is the fundamental of the church of Satan.  (Do what thy wilt shall be the whole of the law).   Anton Levey of the Church of Satan is quoted as saying "The purest form of Atheism, is Satanism".

It boils down to
"Do what you want"
or
"Do what God wants" (THY will be done)

This doesn't mean that an atheist has to be so called "wicked".   
Atheists often hold morals, charity etc., which all seems great on the foreground.  I don't see atheists as all wicked and evil in their works (as a general), but I see them as casting themselves as their own "god" of sorts.  aka "I'm in charge of me, my own will, etc." rather than giving up their life to do God's will.   This is what "The angel of light" did in Isaiah 14.  He "Cast himself above God, and above the heavens".

Christians do these things to glorify God in his will.   If an atheist helps an orphan, it's (more or less) probably because the atheist feels bad or wants to.  If a Christian helps an orphan, they do it to glorify God, and follow his (God's)will first, and also because the Christian feels bad and wants to as well.

A Christian (is supposed to) live their life in God's will both in spirit and works.  (Thy will be done)
An Atheist lives their life according to the way they want. (Do what thy wilt)

Hopefully this makes sense, LOL.
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Offline stavros_388

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My view of Atheists is that they want to follow their own will.

Well, yes, they follow their own wills because they don't believe in God or in a divine mandate of any kind. But if you are saying that atheists are atheists merely because they want to follow their own wills, I tend to disagree. Many atheists would prefer to believe in God, some even spend many years trying... but are not convinced of His existence. I would suggest that satanists (of the LaVeyan variety, at least), in contrast, want to follow their own wills regardless of whether God exists or not.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2012, 09:19:06 PM by stavros_388 »
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Offline HabteSelassie

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My view of Atheists is that they want to follow their own will.

Well, yes, they follow their own wills because they don't believe in God or in a divine mandate of any kind. But if you are saying that atheists are atheists merely because they want to follow their own wills, I tend to disagree. Many atheists would prefer to believe in God, some even spend many years trying... but are not convinced of His existence. I would suggest that satanists (of the LaVeyan variety, at least), in contrast, want to follow their own wills regardless of whether God exists or not.

I agree with this, but that is precisely why I argue that Atheism is as much a faith as any religion.  It takes faith to NOT believe in God, because folks really have no evidence one way or the other.  Reality has been severely photoshopped by the inflection of bias so folks really aren't sure one way or the other.  After all, even those of us in the Church have our doubts, not about God's existence, but about our own lives and the directions God is leading us.  We all have doubts, we all have fears, we all have anxieties, but those of us of Faith are consoled by the Spirit (hopefully).  Atheists are like ourselves, but they have no consolation in their doubts, or at the least, they do not notice or regard that voice of the Spirit tugging at their hearts.  I think loudly opinionated Atheists are as zealously religious about their non-faith as belligerently Bible-thumping Evangelicals and mega-church televangelists.  These are following their own wills, just as the Pharisees.  Others, are just hanging in there trying their best to make sense of a confusing world..

stay blessed,
habte selassie
"Yet stand aloof from stupid questionings and geneologies and strifes and fightings about law, for they are without benefit and vain." Titus 3:10

Offline orthonorm

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Big brother has never existed.

It has always been little brother.
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Offline Schultz

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Big brother has never existed.

It has always been little brother.

He's such a tattletale, too.
"Hearing a nun's confession is like being stoned to death with popcorn." --Abp. Fulton Sheen