Pharyngula

A Pew poll finds that church attendance is correlated with willingness to torture.

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week — 54 percent — said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42 percent of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

I can’t be too smug about it, though: that difference isn’t exactly huge, and 42% is a depressingly large number of non-church-goers favoring barbarous behavior. I wouldn’t be happy with anything larger than 0%.

Comments

  1. #1 JD
    April 30, 2009

    Wasn’t the parting of the Red Sea a form of waterboarding?

  2. #2 Will Oak
    April 30, 2009

    You’ve got the HTML tag unclosed flu again PZ

  3. #3 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 30, 2009

    The Earl of Unclosed tags strikes again.

  4. #4 Seokso
    April 30, 2009

    That’s pretty weak statistically. The sample size is quite small and so is the difference. Still, it should hardly be surprising that churchgoers would be more willing to torture given the history of religion.

  5. #5 Owlmirror
    April 30, 2009
  6. #6 Kris Rhodes
    April 30, 2009

    Correlation IS NOT causation.

  7. #7 Patricia, OM
    April 30, 2009

    *snort* This doesn’t strike me in one little bit strange.

    Where do we get taught that smiting, maiming and slavery is perfectly OK? The bible.

    And just WHO set the gold standard on torture? The catholic church.

  8. #8 SteveC
    April 30, 2009

    According to the Bible, until Jesus came around, the notion of hell as the place where souls who disagreed with Jesus went to be ETERNALLY TORTURED (see end of Matthew, ch. 25) did not exist. Jesus is the ultimate infinite torturer. It would be surprising if Christians did NOT disproportionately approve of torture.

  9. #9 Anon
    April 30, 2009

    That’s right, Kris Rhodes–it is entirely possible that a preference for torture is the causal factor, leading to greater religious attendance.

    Given how I felt about the last church service I (unwillingly) attended, I think that is a reasonable hypothesis.

  10. #10 teiren
    April 30, 2009

    More propaganda from Myers. What’s new.

  11. #11 xander
    April 30, 2009

    Correlation IS NOT causation.

    I don’t mean to speak for anyone else, but I do not think that anyone is arguing that going to church causes people to endorse torture. Rather, this is a refutation of the argument that going to church leads to greater morality, under the assumption that endorsement of torture is immoral.

    xander

  12. #12 Kobra
    April 30, 2009

    </a>. Also, </pedantry>

  13. #13 tieren
    April 30, 2009

    If Myers takes something this shaky as “statistical evidence” for his views, he doesn’t have a robust sense of evidence.

  14. #14 Me
    April 30, 2009

    Praise Jesus.

  15. #15 Patrick
    April 30, 2009

    Reading this site is torture. Myers should turn himself in.

  16. #16 Tulse
    April 30, 2009

    So let me get this straight: a majority of Christians think that, if the State captures a religious zealot who they believe poses a threat to the government and civil society, the State is justified in submitting this person to horrifically painful procedures.

    If that isn’t pathological irony impairment, I don’t know what is.

  17. #17 tieren
    April 30, 2009

    Patrick, you haven’t seen torture. Just wait until his credulous fans lumber in to demolish us with their ad homs and incoherent rants.

  18. #18 Felix
    April 30, 2009

    [quote]Reading this site is torture. Myers should turn himself in.[/quote]

    Strange. I must have missed the gun pointed at your head forcing you to be here.

    Silly me.

  19. #19 teiren
    April 30, 2009

    Case in point.

  20. #20 teiren
    April 30, 2009

    May the next wave of new atheist halitosis begin…

  21. #21 Jens Hegg
    April 30, 2009

    Haha! I saw this on CNN and came over to see if it had been posted yet. PZ is quick on the draw!

  22. #22 Lee Harrison
    April 30, 2009

    Reading this site is torture. Myers should turn himself in.

    Since you’re here voluntarily, no it’s not.

    I guess it’s more of an S&M thing, right?

  23. #23 James
    April 30, 2009

    I actually thought “tieren” was a funny little bot with the “More propaganda from Myers. What’s new?”

    Turns out it’s a troll disguised as a mindless automaton.

    It disturbs me that torture can be rationalized into the mainstream.

  24. #24 Tulse
    April 30, 2009

    As Mrs. Tulse said when I told her about this: “And they say that we need religion to be moral?!”

  25. #25 Oliver
    April 30, 2009

    More propaganda from Myers. What’s new.

    Umm… My guess that “what’s new” would be a survey from a respected, independent pollster, reported by a major news organisation that draws a correlation between church attendance and a willingness to torture folks… you know… kinda like the one he linked to.

  26. #26 Rey Fox
    April 30, 2009

    “Turns out it’s a troll disguised as a mindless automaton.”

    Disguised?

  27. #27 tieren
    April 30, 2009

    Smelly.

  28. #28 Patrick
    April 30, 2009

    Weird, I didn’t think anyone forced them to fly planes into the World Trade Center either.

    In 5th grade a friend put a caterpillar in my desk. I should have called up Barry and the ACLU – except that Barry wasn’t born yet.

  29. #29 Seokso
    April 30, 2009

    To continue from what Xander #11 said:

    This is not about claiming that churches and their members are going out and torturing people, but dispelling the myth that atheists are inherently amoral and the religious are inherently moral. Neither PZ nor any other atheist needs to prove that churchies are cruel villains to demonstrate that point. Merely showing that there is little difference is enough. The fact that the difference seems to point the other way is just icing on the cake.

  30. #30 mothwentbad
    April 30, 2009

    Yes, let’s close the HTML tag thing. But it’s a good albeit unsurprising find, sir.

  31. #31 maa528
    April 30, 2009

    This poll depresses me.

    I haven’t read the data, but the difference is probably close to the margin of error.

    I see it in a reverse sense: not being affiliated with a religious group does not automatically make you more moral.

    Being non-religious gives you a better chance at being.a moral person, but it is far from the only requirement.

  32. #32 Gary F
    April 30, 2009

    My guess is that these churchgoers might be more likely to be more active in their communities than non-churchgoers, so maybe they see terrorism as a valid threat to their lifestyle, family, and friends. That could make them more accepting of torture, as they might see it as a necessary form of protection against attacks against the community they love. The churchgoer would have a different perspective, wanting to take more extreme measures to protect those around him, than the person who doesn’t belong to a church or similar organization.

    That said, I’m an atheist, I’m not part of any religion, and I feel that torture is not justifiable.

  33. #33 Lee Harrison
    April 30, 2009

    Weird, I didn’t think anyone forced them to fly planes into the World Trade Center either.

    Yes, that’s right. And…?

    In 5th grade a friend put a caterpillar in my desk. I should have called up Barry and the ACLU – except that Barry wasn’t born yet.

    WTF? Man, if you can get to a phone – call an ambulance quick! Your brain is breaking!

  34. #34 Pierce R. Butler
    April 30, 2009

    If the highlight of 1/7th (in many cases, 2/7) of your life was perching on a hard pew while being harangued for hours, you’d be cheerleading anything to even things up with the rest of the world too.

    In the most extreme cases, you’d even approve repeated exposure to the Narwhal song!

  35. #35 Kubenzi
    April 30, 2009

    You know, ever since that article from Spencer in Oneida, i have known that IT REALLY IS OVER.What shocks most people is that we won so fast.Word hasn’t spread fast enough, not even to us.These trolls underline what i have said here.

  36. #36 CalGeorge
    April 30, 2009

    “Pew poll finds that church attendance is correlated with willingness to torture.”

    Makes sense. Church attendance is a form of torture. People who go to church usually coerce others into going as well. Q.E.D.

  37. #37 Patrick
    April 30, 2009

    Thursday, April 16, 2009
    The Horror!… Bush Approved Caterpillar Torture on Al-Qaeda Detainee
    Barack Obama released a memo today that described US interrogation methods approved for use on Al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah.
    The methods were approved by the Justice Department back in 2002 and included caterpillar torture.

    http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2009/04/bush-approved-caterpillar-torture-on-al.html

  38. #38 Kseniya
    April 30, 2009

    The sample size is small, but the difference, though not profound, isn’t insignificant. The number of churchgoing terror endorsers is 28% greater than the number of non-churchgoing endorsers. Regardless, I think what we’re really seeing is positive correlation between political conservatism and endorsement of torture. The tendency towards greater religiosity is just a part of the package.

  39. #39 Janus
    April 30, 2009

    I guess even church-goers have some sense.

  40. #40 Marcus Ranum
    April 30, 2009

    Religion is torture. So it seems unsurprising that the religious would approve of it.

    If having someone tell you that there’s an invisible Big Brother watching you, who’s going to whup your ass (and probably your whole town will go up with “collateral damage”) if you think naughty thoughts or touch your own genitals or eat ham or whatnot – if you’re BAD you go to flaming ovens for eternity and if you’re GOOD you get to spend eternity in the most boring place ever, singing off-key praises with a fucking acoustic harp… If that’s not torture, what is?

  41. #41 Sunil
    April 30, 2009

    Here is a statistic that satisfies PZ’s absolute (100 % – 0%) wish:

    Suicide bombers -

    Religious Wingnuts (or Bad Guys) = 100%
    Atheists, Humanists (or Good Guys) = 0%

  42. #42 K.R.
    April 30, 2009

    It hurts my brain that that entire post is a link. I could barely finish reading it.

  43. #43 Anonymous
    April 30, 2009

    tieren & Patrick…fresh meat. The only question is Dollar Store, Wal-Mart or top grade Troll Market? PZ’s gotta splurge now and then. :)

  44. #44 RamblinDude
    April 30, 2009

    Let me explain: You see, Jesus was tortured for our sins so that we wouldn?t have to be tortured?not so that we wouldn?t have to torture others. See?

    Hmmm, let me see if I can explain it better . . . terrorists are not grateful that Jesus was tortured on the cross to save their souls, so it?s okay to torture them because they don?t accept our god of love, and besides, they?re all going to hell, anyway. Get it? And also, if we smite our enemies like they did in Old Testament times, it will show that we?re righteous, and God will start talking to us again in burning bushes. Understand now?

    Praise the Lord!

  45. #45 mxh
    April 30, 2009

    what are the odds that if the findings were that atheists supported torture more the title would be “atheists support torture,” instead of what CNN has for this article: “Survey: Support for terror suspect torture differs among the faithful”

  46. #46 mxh
    May 1, 2009

    PZ, I wouldn’t say that the survey results (at least from that link) is statistical evidence, but I’m not surprised about the results (if anything, I thought that religious people would be even more in favor of torture – with their vengeful god and all).

  47. #47 Buzz
    May 1, 2009

    My eyes are bleeding.

  48. #48 Patricia, OM
    May 1, 2009

    What the hell?! How did I get to be Anonymous @43?

    One of the BigDumbChimps cooties is loose again.

  49. #49 mothwentbad
    May 1, 2009

    Hmmm, also in that article, some protestant groups were less likely to approve of torture than the unaffiliated. Your stat that goes in the opposite direction doesn’t seem to account for denomination, and specifies weekly church attendance as the predictor.

    I guess listening to sermons about how *everyone* deserves to be tortured, but that some people are just a little better at “accepting forgiveness” than others, could have an effect. Though this still doesn’t explain why some protestants would be even less torturey than the unaffiliated. I don’t know why being Protestant but not going to church would help.

  50. #50 Tulse
    May 1, 2009

    Suicide bombers -

    Religious Wingnuts (or Bad Guys) = 100%

    Atheists, Humanists (or Good Guys) = 0%

    Unfortunately this is not at all true — the non-religious Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are credited with developing the modern suicide bomber.

  51. #51 Anonymous
    May 1, 2009

    I don’t mean to speak for anyone else, but I do not think that anyone is arguing that going to church causes people to endorse torture.

    Except for PZ, where he says in the title “Religion leads to immorality”.

  52. #52 raven
    May 1, 2009

    kris Rhodes, torturer for jesus

    Correlation IS NOT causation.

    Got that wrong. Not necessarily but it can be. Given fundies well documented habit of hating, lying, being dumb, and killing, it almost certainly is.

    So Kris, what is your favorite torture?
    Are you going to be a suicide bomber for jesus?

    What is your target going to be, biology buildings, federal buildings, catholic churches, synogogues, family planning clinics, gay bars? I know, I know. So many peope to hate and kill, so little time. Xians these days have so many choices.

  53. #53 Dr. P
    May 1, 2009

    #28 Weird, I didn’t think anyone forced them to fly planes into the World Trade Center either. And this justifies torture that we’ve agreed is illegal how,exactly? And you do realize that many of the tortured were not actually accused of terrorism themselves,right? So….is there point in there somewhere?

  54. #54 Patricia, OM
    May 1, 2009

    #51 – Dumbass, going to church IS torture. Fifty years experiance tells me so.

  55. #55 mxh
    May 1, 2009

    @#51

    but I do not think that anyone is arguing that going to church causes people to endorse torture.

    Not necessarily, but I believe that religious indoctrination certainly helps people accept crap like that… and if your leaders in your church say it’s okay then you’re more likely to have no moral qualms about it.

  56. #56 Bob
    May 1, 2009

    Lumping all church goers together is a bit dishonest. If you read the whole article, it breaks down the percent of individuals completely opposed to torture by more specific affiliations. According to the article, 30% of “mainline” Protestants (Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, etc.) claim torture is never justified. Only 25% of non-religious respondents claim that torture is never justified. The 12.5% of Evangelicals who oppose torture brings the number down for the religiously affiliated subjects.

    Please try to avoid cherry-picking quotes and data in the future. It lowers you to the level of the Creationists, and nobody wants to fall that far.

  57. #57 raven
    May 1, 2009

    The 12.5% of Evangelicals who oppose torture brings the number down for the religiously affiliated subjects.

    So the fundie xians are leading the race to the bottom of the barrel. So what else is new?

    I take your point that xians are all over the place on issues. To the point that they used to torture and kill each other by the millions. Unfortunately, the moderate xians seem to be an endangered species.

    Interesting fact. 1.5 million USians leave the xian religion every year.

  58. #58 Patricia, OM
    May 1, 2009

    Bob @ 56 – What kind of religotard are you?
    ” Lumping all church goers together is a bit dishonest.”
    Oh really? Don’t christian church goers believe in the bible? And the cutting off of peoples heads by Muslims isn’t torture, because…?

  59. #59 Shawn Wilkinson
    May 1, 2009

    Run away anchor!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  60. #60 Kris Rhodes
    May 1, 2009

    Dear Raven:

    WTF???

    PZ has inappropriately (probably with tongue in cheek) posted a headline that is well, uh, fallacious.

    The fallacy is that correlation IS NOT causation.

    I think it is a bad idea to claim that it is evidence, especially when it seems that both are going to be linked to underlying factors.

    Pointing that out does not mean I support torture, love jesus, think I’m better then you (or PZ, or anyone else), kill babies, eat babies, juggle babies, sniff cocaine, love you, hate you, have blue eyes, or that blue is my favorite color.

    http://xkcd.com/552/

  61. #61 Patricia, OM
    May 1, 2009

    That damned cootie is strong tonight. I can’t get a block quote

    to work to save my ass.

  62. boogie boogie boogie

  63. #63 Thomas Lee Elifritz
    May 1, 2009

    Hey tieren – Fuck your god, in the ass, without a condom.

  64. #64 Nobodyplus
    May 1, 2009

    So what’s the correct answer? Is it seldom or never?

    I’d say never to government-sponsored torture, but aren’t there exceptional scenarios?

    • What about doomsday scenarios? (these concern mad engineers mostly. Not mad scientists.)
    • What if torture was found to have a profoundly positive effect on both the mentally ill and kittens?
    • Hypothetical: Say that torturing cows caused them to yield more meat, the yield being exponential with respect to the amount of torture. Waterboarding one cow for 1 hour per day causes it yield double, 20 hours per day yeilds 2^20 times the amount of meat.

      If it somehow solves world hunger, isn’t it worth torturing one cow?

  65. #65 raven
    May 1, 2009

    Kris Rhodes the non baby killer:

    The fallacy is that correlation IS NOT causation.

    And you miss the point. Correlation doesn’t prove causation. But it can give one a good place to look for causation.

    We already know fundies are evil, dumb, haters. It isn’t hard to believe that they think torture it just great.

    If you aren’t one, OK. It is only a matter of time before some fundie xian shows up and threatens to torture and kill everyone for saying that fundie xians support torture and killing. They are very predictable and show up in the comments often. Cue the fundie mantra 10 9 8….

    “All you pseudointellectual, baby killing cannibalistic atheists are going to hell. (Laugh, snicker).”

  66. #66 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 1, 2009

    bah I have to agree. It’s a pretty common fallacy.

    cum hoc ergo propter hoc

    Now that doesn’t mean it isn’t true, just that you can’t blame it on that without some backing reason.

  67. #67 Fl bluefish
    May 1, 2009

    Some of the most bloodthirsty people on the planet right now are “deeply religious”.
    I’ve been around Southern Baptist that rant that Israel should expand it’s borders to Biblical boundaries…..And kill anyone in the way.

    At some point at least some of this is going to show up in a poll.

  68. #68 Jenny
    May 1, 2009

    Why is it “immoral” for people to want to protect Americans, and use whatever means are necessary to do so?

    From this same article, I could say that 58% of non-church-goers place a greater importance on the comfort of enemy combatants than on the lives of American citizens. Isn’t THAT immoral?

  69. #69 Jason A.
    May 1, 2009

    Kris Rhodes

    The fallacy is that correlation IS NOT causation.

    You didn’t get it the first time it was pointed out to you, pay attention this time. You’re wrong. The fallacy you’re looking for is ‘correlation does not imply causation’, not ‘correlation is not causation’. There’s a serious difference. Correlation of a single trend alone is not enough to draw a causal link, but it’s perfectly good supporting evidence within a larger package of evidence.

    Though I’d still bet the cause is reversed – immoral people are attracted to religion.

  70. #70 strange gods before me
    May 1, 2009

    Got that wrong. Not necessarily but it can be. Given fundies well documented habit of hating, lying, being dumb, and killing, it almost certainly is.

    Get some critical thinking skills. A Pew poll cannot show causation. It’s empirically untenable to declare that causation has been found, as PZ does in the headline “Statistical evidence that religion leads to immorality,” from this poll. PZ is much more careful in his domains of expertise. I would guess that he knows he’s being a bit over the top, and I don’t think it’s a big deal, as long as the comment thread addresses these details.

    Much more likely than your interpretation of “fundies are bad because they’re bad people” is a third causal factor.

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    Authoritarian followers usually support the established authorities in their
    society, such as government officials and traditional religious leaders. Such people
    have historically been the ?proper? authorities in life, the time-honored, entitled,
    customary leaders, and that means a lot to most authoritarians. Psychologically these
    followers have personalities featuring:
    1) a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in
    their society;
    2) high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and
    3) a high level of conventionalism.

    High-RWA followers are both drawn to conventional religion because it’s important to fit in, and approving of torture because the good guys know who the bad guys are and the bad guys deserve whatever the good guys decide to do to them.

  71. #71 Crudely Wrott
    May 1, 2009

    Well of course going to church regularly encourages one to be enthusiastic concerning the use of force to make others see the light. I can testify to its effectiveness. It worked on me as a child when Dad laid down the law.

    This is the same approach that the church uses; agree or die. Not just once, but die continuously for a time without end.

    Religions constantly depend on the general ignorance of the population and prey upon those who can’t understand the spin put on ritual declarations.

    Damned fucking shame, too. Considering that education is predicated merely on what is observable and repeatable. At least it’s available to those who have ears.

  72. #72 Crudely Wrott
    May 1, 2009

    Didn’t mean to give the impression that Dad was religious. He was not.

    But he most certainly did lay down the law. For that I bless him.

  73. #73 littlejohn
    May 1, 2009

    This isn’t surprising. When I recall my childhood, sitting through church services *was* torture.

  74. #74 Patricia, OM
    May 1, 2009

    You’re really cute when you type Latin Chimpy.

  75. #75 Sock
    May 1, 2009

    I mirror #4′s comment.

  76. #76 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 1, 2009

    You’re really cute when you type Latin Chimpy.

    you should see when I type moron

    to quote Samuel Clemens

    Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.

  77. #77 Anonymous
    May 1, 2009

    strange gods before me = 5 stars

    Raven: Thank you for rescindment of your ad hominem.

    Jason A: I’m sorry that I didn’t use the popular verbage associated with the axiom, but i also don’t think this semantic tidbit is worth discussing.

    “Correlation is not causation” is a true statement; they are different things. Everyone else jumped to conclusions about what I meant with it— and it is pretty clear that everyone understood what I was getting at; you did!

    Also note that you agree with me on my basic thesis; that the direct of causation is probably not the one PZ advocates in the title.

  78. #78 strange gods before me
    May 1, 2009

    Nobodyplus, shut up. Apologetics for crimes against humanity are not welcome here. Your bullshit hypothetical torture will never fucking happen, but you will legitimize torture in the mind of fuzzy-thinking amoral “moderates” who are approximately as stupid as you.

    The only kind of torture that actually occurs is that of amoral governments seeking false confessions from prisoners in order to justify further repression of both foreigners and their own citizens.

    When you pretend that there’s ever a kind of torture worth considering, you do nothing except provide moral cover for the only kind of torture that actually occurs.

    So get off the internet, you inhuman troll, go watch TV and never speak to anyone ever again. Your hatred of human rights is corrosive and undeserving of debate.

  79. #79 Kris Rhodes
    May 1, 2009

    #77 is me; sorry I forget to type in my name. :(

    Cheers.

  80. #80 Denis Loubet
    May 1, 2009

    Correlation may not equal causation, but correlation sure does equal correlation. Granted, the statistical difference in these atheist vs theist numbers may be only 28%, but being what they are, I know who I’d be more comfortable hanging around with.

  81. #81 JPBrowning
    May 1, 2009

    @Jenny #68

    You are completely wrong. “Whatever means necessary” includes a term that isn’t defined the same by everyone.

    Comfort is not the same as “not tortured”. We as a nation are supposed to hold high moral standards, and torture does not fall in that.

    Also, Jesus taught to love ALL. Not just the ones who love you. Jesus would never approve of torture, for any reason. WWJD. Also, go look up what “turn the other cheek” means. And please, actually follow what you intend to cram down our non-believing throats, or just plain shut the fuck up. Thanks.

  82. #82 Tulse
    May 1, 2009

    NobodyPlus, Jenny,

    Andrew Sullivan has a quote from a former military interrogator:

    When you capture a prisoner, they are your ward. You are responsible for them.

    How you treat them does not depend on what kind of person they are, it depends on what kind of person you are.

    So, what kind of person are you?

  83. #83 Bill Dauphin
    May 1, 2009

    Aww, Patricia, how classy you are:

    You’re really cute when you type Latin Chimpy.

    See, I was gonna do a much cruder riff, based on the first word and a Beavis-and-Butthead parody. Your class has saved us all from that! ;^)

  84. #84 Patricia, OM
    May 1, 2009

    tieren – a one shit wonder.

    The price of a well conditioned troll, able to run five furlongs with the Ilk must have surpassed the normal budget of a professor. These latest really are tasteless.

    Turn in your Troll Stamps for Beltane PZ!

  85. #85 raven
    May 1, 2009

    Jenny the xian torture advocate:

    Why is it “immoral” for people to want to protect Americans, and use whatever means are necessary to do so?

    1. Your philosophy is might makes right. You learned that in sunday school and it is an exampe of that mythological xian morality. Other people feel that torture is just wrong.

    2. Torture doesn’t work. The real professionals didn’t even want it. People will say anything under torture and make up anything plausible. You get a lot of info under torture, most of it wrong.

    3. Torture is illegal under international law.

    4. If we torture people, our adversaries are more likely to torture US citizens and soldiers they capture, MAT, mutually assured torture.

    5. It isn’t necessary. We’ve faced far worse adversaries than a bunch of demented moslem religious fanatics living in the boondocks. Try WW11, the Japanese and Germans were far more numerous, organized, and better armed than Al Qaeda. Same goes for the Soviet commies.

    Xian morality is a myth or an oxymoron. No one can find it.

    And just what is the difference between a xian fundie religious fanatic and a moslem one? Nothing really, fanatics are all the same. We just don’t let ours run around loose, the cops, courts, and army will keep them in line.

  86. #86 Denis Loubet
    May 1, 2009

    Why is it “immoral” for people to want to protect Americans, and use whatever means are necessary to do so?

    Why is it immoral for the nazis to want to protect the fatherland, and use whatever means necessary to do so?

    Because clearly the ends don’t always justify the means, dipshit.

    (Disclaimer: Yes, I know… But nazis are a great shorthand for evil and everyone is familiar with the mechanisms they used. Kill them all and let Godwin sort them out, I say!)

  87. #87 Patricia, OM
    May 1, 2009

    Now I am de pro fundis . ;)

  88. #88 strange gods before me
    May 1, 2009

    Why is it immoral for the nazis to want to protect the fatherland, and use whatever means necessary to do so?

    Because clearly the ends don’t always justify the means, dipshit.

    (Disclaimer: Yes, I know… But nazis are a great shorthand for evil and everyone is familiar with the mechanisms they used. Kill them all and let Godwin sort them out, I say!)

    Your comparison is perfectly apt. Jenny is an evil person who would have been very comfortable under the Nazi regime, particularly in the time after Kristallnacht when the businesses of “enemy combatants” were seized and handed over to “good citizens.”

  89. #89 Patricia, OM
    May 1, 2009

    Oh come on Denis, you can speak plainer than that.
    I’ll race you to the jugular.

  90. #90 JeffS
    May 1, 2009

    No one should ever torture anyone.

    With the obvious exception of Jack Baur.

    The man gets results.

  91. #91 skyotter
    May 1, 2009

    this thread needs more bacon

  92. #92 Owlmirror
    May 1, 2009

    OT: I hope that the reason that PZ is leaving the open tag up there is because he’s too busy reading this paper, and maybe even composing a post on it:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/324/5927/626

    (although Ed Yong beat him to it.)

    We should be braced for YECs quote-mining the science to Hell and back, cool as it is.

  93. #93 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 1, 2009

    this thread needs more bacon

    Yes grasshopper

  94. #94 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 1, 2009

    Kill them all and let Godwin sort them out, I say!

    wow

    all kinds of win there

  95. #95 Leigh Williams
    May 1, 2009

    Kseniya: “Regardless, I think what we’re really seeing is positive correlation between political conservatism and endorsement of torture.”

    I think what we’re seeing is the degree to which religious conservatives are authoritarian personalities. Bob Altemeyer’s research predicts that religious fundamentalists will respond in just this way: http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeyer/drbob/chapter4.pdf
    (I see strange gods before me beat me to this at #70. Completely agree, sgbm!

    But since conservatism in this country pretty much correlates with religious fundamentalism nowadays, Kseniya’s point stands.

    And as Bob (not Bob Altemeyer, probably!) points out in #56, mainline Christians reject torture slightly MORE than non-religious respondents.

    But Patricia responds to Bob: “Oh really? Don’t christian church goers believe in the bible? And the cutting off of peoples heads by Muslims isn’t torture, because…?”

    Patricia, what are you trying to say? Mainline Christians reject torture. What does “believing” in the Bible have to do with it? Surely you’re aware that mainline Christians don’t interpret the Bible literally. Our “belief” in the Bible is categorically different from that of the fundamentalists.

    And why drag radical Islam into it? Honestly, I’m puzzled by this comment.

  96. #96 Patricia, OM
    May 1, 2009

    When in doubt, serve Bacon Wrapped Bacon as horsdorves. They go well with bacon martini’s.

  97. #97 Rick R
    May 1, 2009

    Torture doesn’t work.

    Torture is illegal. A war crime.

    Our policy of torture has been a major source of recruitment for Al Qaeda in Iraq, leading to higher casualties among our soldiers. IOW, far from saving American lives, our torture policy has cost American lives.

    Prosecute the fuckers responsible.

  98. #98 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 1, 2009

    Sven if you are reading this email me. I have some discs to send you

  99. #99 Rick R
    May 1, 2009

    Oh, and bacon. Always bacon.

    And lesbians. Especially if they are Jackie Warner from Bravo’s “Workout”.

  100. #100 David
    May 1, 2009

    How reprehensible that a scientist is supposed to value truth and who knows how studies and statistics can be used to lie would use this study to do just that because it suits his purpose. One might just as well say this study proves religious people are less likely to torture since one group of religious people apparently came in at only 30% in favor of torture.

  101. #101 Patricia, OM
    May 1, 2009

    Mainline christians don’t interpret the Bible literally.

    That is pure horse shit, and you are not a true christian. Every word, jot and tittle of the bible is the true and the inerrant word of god. I do not endorse your explanation of my interpretation of the bible. If you do not understand the role of torture in the bible then it is your ignorance of biblical teaching. And further it is your ignorance of the churches teaching. See Hammer of the Witches or do you seek to ignore that which cost my ancestors their lives?

  102. #102 Denis Loubet
    May 1, 2009

    David, he values truth. The numbers are clearly theist vs atheist. I’m sure there were some Nazis who had nothing against Jews, does that justify the statement Nazis have nothing against Jews?

    I don’t think so.

  103. statistics can be used to lie

    But the statistics themselves don’t lie, they are just a mathematical reflection of the questions asked. People lie.

    I think we need to do a study on why science illiterate religious nuts often go by the name ‘David’ and why science illiterate rednecks often go by the name of (lower case) ‘steve’.

    I mean, that’s just my observation, but I’d like to gather some statistics on this phenomenon.

  104. #104 Patricia, OM
    May 1, 2009

    Gawds balls – I cannot let this we don’t interpret the bible literally CRAP go unanswered by scripture.

    For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

    Matt. 5:18 In case you are confused – that’s jezus speaking.

  105. #105 Jason A.
    May 1, 2009

    Anonymous/Kris Rhodes #77:
    You know what? I was probably too quick to jump on you. I blame it on the idiot troll activity in this thread must have had my troll sensitivity meter overstimulated. My bad.

  106. #106 St. Tabby Lavalamp
    May 1, 2009

    Eternal, non-stop, mind-blowingly horrendous torture through never-ending fire equals infinitely loving and merciful. Once a mind is capable of accepting that, it can twist itself to accept anything horrific as good.

    In other news… What’s with the tedious level of trolls popping up lately? Say what you want about some of the recently banned, at least they weren’t as boring as Patrick or teiren.

  107. #107 Katkinkate
    May 1, 2009

    We just have to come to terms with the reality that the human species is still barbaric when you scratch below the thin veneer of ‘civilisation’. It will be a long time yet before we can do without formal laws, police and the military.

  108. #108 Kris Rhodes
    May 1, 2009

    Dear Jason A.

    <3

  109. #109 Shaun
    May 1, 2009

    This IS evidence in favour of the proposition. It isnt final proof. There may be other evidence which weighs either for or against the proposition, but statistical data most certainly is evidence.

    What is IS proof of is shocking hypocricy and dishonesty, as the number of christians approving torture ever should be zero if they followed their supposed icons claimed teachings.

  110. #110 nothing's sacred
    May 1, 2009

    PZ has inappropriately (probably with tongue in cheek) posted a headline that is well, uh, fallacious.

    The fallacy is that correlation IS NOT causation.

    I think it is a bad idea to claim that it is evidence, especially when it seems that both are going to be linked to underlying factors.

    So much failure here. PZ did not say or imply that correlation is causation. He did not say that going to church causes acceptance of torture — those are the things correlated in the study; he referred to neither church attendance nor torture in his title. He didn’t say that religion — the word in his title — causes immorality — the word in his title. Religion is a possible underlying factor that might link church going and accepting torture. What PZ said is that the study is evidence that religion leads to immorality. Don’t you know what evidence is? Don’t you understand how correlation serves as evidence of causation?

    evidence: anything that helps to prove that something is or is not true

    And yes, of course it was tongue cheek, because while the study is evidence for the proposition that religion leads to immorality, it is rather weak evidence. But, tongue in cheek or not, PZ committed no fallacy.

  111. #111 Emmet, OM
    May 1, 2009

    Jesus would never approve of torture, for any reason.

    Except for the redemption of sin, of course, and ? eternally ? as punishment for not loving him.

     

    I could say that 58% of non-church-goers place a greater importance on the comfort of alleged ?enemy combatants? than on the lives of American citizens.

    There. Fixed.

    26,000 people held without trial in America’s secret prisons all over the world; in many cases kidnapped from their homes or handed over for reward by rivals and enemies without a shred of evidence ? and then tortured.

    And you wonder why there is resentment, derision, and hatred for America amongst their sons and daughters and mothers and fathers and uncles and aunts and nephews and cousins?

    Get a grip.

  112. #112 Shane
    May 1, 2009

    nothing’s sacred: “leads to” means “caused”. Third meaning of “lead” at dictionary.com: “to influence or induce; cause”.

    I am sure PZ wasn’t being serious, however. It’s more likely immorality causes religion, but the results of a poll with a few hundred respondents probably doesn’t tell us anything.

  113. #113 nothing's sacred
    May 1, 2009

    Why is it “immoral” for people to want to protect Americans, and use whatever means are necessary to do so?

    Because if you have any morality, “whatever means are necessary” includes unambiguously immoral acts, so you had better narrow that down.

    From this same article, I could say that 58% of non-church-goers place a greater importance on the comfort of enemy combatants than on the lives of American citizens

    You could say that, but it would be quite wrong, since a) it equates torture with discomforture, b) it depends on all 58% of non-church-goers believing that torturing enemy combatants would be guaranteed to save American lives, and c) it depends on none of those 58% of non-church-goers basing their answers on moral principles that might outweigh the possibility of saving American lives.

  114. #114 nothing's sacred
    May 1, 2009

    nothing’s sacred: “leads to” means “caused”. Third meaning of “lead” at dictionary.com: “to influence or induce; cause”.

    Shane: Utterly irrelevant. I wrote about the meaning of evidence. You apparently didn’t read it or didn’t comprehend it. If PZ had written, “Statistical evidence that religion causes immorality”, everything I wrote would still apply.

  115. #115 Ross
    May 1, 2009

    Of course torture is sometimes justified.
    PZ, haven’t you watched any seasons of ’24′?
    Jack Bauer for great justice! Go Jack!

  116. #116 Timothy
    May 1, 2009

    Go ahead, be smug, PZ. LOTS of religious people seldom or never go to church. I’d like to see the breakdown be believers, agnostics, atheists. I’ll bet $10 we come out on top, then the agnostics, then the sheep.

  117. #117 Bob
    May 1, 2009

    @Patricia OM
    You seem like a very angry person. You might want to get that under control, it can’t be good for your blood pressure.

    Anyway, I am not religious, I have been an atheist my whole life. However, citing part of a source that agrees with you while completely ignoring any part that conflicts with your views is intellectually dishonest. As I said in my initial post, this is the strategy used by the creationist/IDers/whatever they call themselves this week. I hate to see this blog utilizing the same improper techniques has Ken Ham and his ilk.

    You do realize it is possible to criticize someone’s without necessarily opposing that person, right? That is one of the key parts of the whole peer review process. If someone submitted an article that reached a conclusion with which you agreed, but did so using faulty methods, shouldn’t you point out the issues with their methodology?

  118. #118 Phorarhacos
    May 1, 2009

    Hypothetical: Say that torturing cows caused them to yield more meat, the yield being exponential with respect to the amount of torture. Waterboarding one cow for 1 hour per day causes it yield double, 20 hours per day yields 2^20 times the amount of meat.

    Duh-huh?

    Um… OK. Let’s run with this for a sec.

    Torturing a goose will get you PATÉ… as well as the wrath of PETA, who will want to suggest you be tortured for stuffing that bird in the first place. It is indeed a vicious cycle, no?

    Your argument’s weak as a cat in a bag,
    you had to add three (now that’s just really sad)
    The regulars here – well, they cut you up
    and sent you off packing (without your tin cup!)

  119. #119 David
    May 1, 2009

    Posted by: Denis Loubet | May 1, 2009 2:14 AM

    David, he values truth. The numbers are clearly theist vs. atheist. I’m sure there were some Nazis who had nothing against Jews, does that justify the statement Nazis have nothing against Jews?

    Denis,

    The title of the post is “Statistical evidence that religion leads to immorality”. That seems quite a conclusion to jump to based on this limited study.

    Smoking causes cancer. There is a direct cause connection. It may vary based on other factors, but the connection always exist. It doesn’t cause one group to get cancer but cause groups people to get healthy.

    “Religion” exists in many “flavors” some quite cancerous (any religious belief that encourage violence and intolerance would for me fall into that category), some not cancerous (PZ of course might disagree). Using the logic of the article title, “real religious people (let’s define them as the protestants opposed to torture) are more moral than atheists”. I do not believe that however and would consider than an equally absurd argument.

    All this study really showed is what anyone with an iota of common sense already knows – that fundamentalists/extremists of all religions are a intolerant bunch.

    Your final sentence would do a fine job of exposing a logical fallacy IF I had engaged in one. Instead it’s just silly and off base.

  120. #120 Ramases
    May 1, 2009

    As with other commentators, this does not surprise me one bit – in fact anything else would be strange. After all, believers in the Christian or Jewish bible or the Muslim or the Koran would only be acting in according to their professed beliefs based on their holy scriptures.

    There is another aspect though – I think religious believers are on average more fearful of life in general and of the world than others. That’s what makes them retreat into religion. That is why they are on average (although to be fair not always) more conservative or right wing than non-believers.

    I also agree with PZ that it is a pity that some in the non-believer camp also advocate toruture.

    Sam Harris’s pro-torture position is probably the one that stands out the most. Much of what Sam writes is great, but his simplistic “clash of civilisations” position and support for torture is one thing that to my mind makes him lose a huge swag of credibility.

  121. #121 David
    May 1, 2009

    Posted by: Thomas Lee Elifritz | May 1, 2009 2:16 AM

    I think we need to do a study on why science illiterate religious nuts often go by the name ‘David’…

    Thomas,

    I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not religious nor am I a “science illiterate”. In fact, I’m a Skeptic with a giant S, and a huge fan of this blog, though not of this article for the reasons already stated. Interesting though that because I stated a dissenting opinion that you immediately felt the need to demonize me as being a “religious nut”.

  122. #122 Kris Rhodes
    May 1, 2009

    Questions:

    Is ‘leads to’ logically different then ’causes’?

    Both say that one thing forces the other to happen.

    Those claiming that “leads to” doesn’t suggest causation are wrong.

    The way to test this is to take a group of people who are non-religious, force them to be religious, and vice-versa, record and use statistics on the results. Without this— the conclusion that one leads to the other— is not tenable.

    Dear nothing’s sacred: Your definition of “evidence” would suggest that any correlation can be used as evidence.

    Is the fact that someone is flying evidence that they’re tied to a giant flock of birds?; or that they’re in an airplane?; or a parachute?; or they ARE a bird?; or they’
    re base jumping?; or any number of other things?

    No. Because correlation does not imply causation. In the examples above, correlation -does not disprove-, which is very, very, different from correlation proving something.

    On the other hand, PZ is explicity representing causation in his title, and that can not be used as evidence for a pet hypothesis without a great deal of other evidence and a reasonable method of one causing the other. That’s why it took so long for plate tectonics to be proven; there was a lot of correlation, but no reasonable method of causation.

    The data behind PZ’s proclamation is indistinguishable from “Immorality leads to religion” — and as such, it is not evidence for either causing the other.

  123. #123 David
    May 1, 2009

    Kris Rhodes,

    EXCELLENT! Well put. Thank you. This is precisely why I called PZ’s article reprehensible. Because as a scientist he should know better than to embrace this type of nonsense. It’s an iota better than the religious kooks trying to prove atheists are immoral with their absurd cause connections.

  124. #124 David
    May 1, 2009

    I know this is a crazy question but does this blog employ some type of automatic spell correction? I have now used the word causal in two posts only to have it show up as cause…without any spell check on my part.

  125. #125 David
    May 1, 2009

    Posted by: Kris Rhodes | May 1, 2009 5:13 AM

    The data behind PZ’s proclamation is indistinguishable from “Immorality leads to religion” — and as such, it is not evidence for either causing the other.

    Kris,

    In fact “immorality leads to religion” seems likely closer to the truth, not literally, but rather in the sense that a causal connection is just as likely to run in the opposite direction. That is, intolerant people are often going to gravitate to an intolerant religion or sect, and tolerant people are often going to gravitate to a more tolerant religion or sect.

  126. #126 Kris Rhodes
    May 1, 2009

    I read this blog every day; and as a scientist, I think that the title is either wrong, or obscurely and dangerously tongue in cheek.

    I won’t fault PZ for putting up something that is inaccurate; he’s a busy guy, that is also very, very funny and entertaining, and he shouldn’t be concerned with triple parsing every statement be makes and reconsidering every wording. If he did, we wouldn’t get as many posts.

    That said, everyone in the community that reads him should have the responsibility to call him on statements when he does say something silly. I don’t think what he said here rises to the level of ‘reprehensible’- but our comments should and can serve to clarify his statements.

    I think it is reprehensible that people that post here have launched ad hominems against those that DARE disagree; and am proud that those same people have admitted to being overzealous in doing so.

  127. #127 Kris Rhodes
    May 1, 2009

    Posted by: David | May 1, 2009 5:28 AM
    In fact “immorality leads to religion” seems likely closer to the truth, not literally, but rather in the sense that a causal connection is just as likely to run in the opposite direction. That is, intolerant people are often going to gravitate to an intolerant religion or sect, and tolerant people are often going to gravitate to a more tolerant religion or sect.

    A plausible hypothesis! And it should be tested! But, unfortunately, it’s not evidence one way or another. :)

  128. #128 Daniel de Rauglaudre
    May 1, 2009

    A = church attendant
    B = willingness to torture

    The poll says that A is correlated with B, i.e. we have often:

    A and B

    We agree that it does not say that A causes B, which would be: A => B

    But it is equivalent to the following:

    not (not A or not B)

    which can be written:

    not (not A => B)

    In other words:

    To say that if you don’t go to church, you support torture is FALSE.

    Correlation is not causation, but it nevertheless implies things.

  129. #129 coathangrrr
    May 1, 2009

    “Hypothetical: Say that torturing cows caused them to yield more meat, the yield being exponential with respect to the amount of torture. Waterboarding one cow for 1 hour per day causes it yield double, 20 hours per day yeilds 2^20 times the amount of meat.”

    Farms pretty much do torture cows to get more meat. They don’t use water boarding, but they treat them in a way that is nothing short of torture.

  130. #130 David
    May 1, 2009

    Posted by: Kris Rhodes | May 1, 2009 5:32 AM

    I don’t think what he said here rises to the level of ‘reprehensible’- but our comments should and can serve to clarify his statements.

    I used the word reprehensible because I’m very bothered by intolerance in any form, I expect it from many religious people but not from PZ. One of the most common tactics of the religious right is the suggestion that anyone who believes differently than they do are immoral [and like to eat children ;-)]. We should not engage in the same tactics nor use their fuzzy logic.

    Perhaps the title was tongue in cheek or just rabble rousing but it’s usually pretty obvious when that is the case such as his story the other day about the preacher who murdered? someone.

  131. #131 PZ Myers
    May 1, 2009

    Oh, dog. Pedants.

    Look, guys: it is statistical evidence that religion leads to immorality. It does not prove causation, but the title doesn’t claim that it does.

  132. #132 Ichthyic
    May 1, 2009

    I used the word reprehensible because I’m very bothered by intolerance in any form

    I simply cannot tolerate that argument.

    seriously.

    your concern is noted.

  133. #133 nothing's sacred
    May 1, 2009

    Is ‘leads to’ logically different then ’causes’?

    Not significantly.

    Those claiming that “leads to” doesn’t suggest causation are wrong.

    No one claimed that.

    The way to test this is to take a group of people who are non-religious, force them to be religious, and vice-versa, record and use statistics on the results. Without this— the conclusion that one leads to the other— is not tenable.

    Severe logic and statistical fail. We can demonstrate that smoking leads to cancer without forcing non-smokers to smoke and v.v.

    Dear nothing’s sacred: Your definition of “evidence” would suggest that any correlation can be used as evidence.

    Is the fact that someone is flying evidence that they’re tied to a giant flock of birds?; or that they’re in an airplane?; or a parachute?; or they ARE a bird?; or they’
    re base jumping?; or any number of other things?

    Yes to all. Of course, there is other evidence that bears on which of those might be the case.

    No. Because correlation does not imply causation. In the examples above, correlation -does not disprove-, which is very, very, different from correlation proving something.

    You keep repeating this strawman, but no one said that correlation implies or proves anything. Correlations are evidence of causation — when evaluating the pros and cons of the proposition that A causes B, a positive correlation of A with B goes on the pro side. But of course one needs additional evidence to reach any sort of conclusion, since B might cause A or they might have a common cause or the correlation may be a random fluke.

    On the other hand, PZ is explicity representing causation in his title

    PZ is representing evidence of causation.

    and that can not be used as evidence for a pet hypothesis without a great deal of other evidence and a reasonable method of one causing the other.

    What cannot be used as evidence? Correlations certainly can be. How could one thing not be usable as evidence unless there’s other evidence — where would we start? Evidence is cumulative … you take lots of little bits and weigh them with and against each other. As for a reasonable “method” (mechanism, presumably), what makes you think PZ doesn’t have one in mind? There’s certainly been plenty of discussion here of how religion can contribute to immorality. In any case, one doesn’t need to have a known mechanism before making an inference from evidence — there are a vast number of counterexamples. For instance, Kepler didn’t need a mechanism before concluding elliptical orbits.

    And of course there’s the little matter that most people have agreed that PZ wrote that tongue in cheek but you’re treating it as if he hadn’t. As is David, with absurdities like “Because as a scientist he should know better than to embrace this type of nonsense”. He hasn’t embraced any nonsense, he’s not making a formal scientific argument, he’s just taking a somewhat humorous jab at his favorite foil. (There’s usually a clue in the article category, but he didn’t provide one.)

    The data behind PZ’s proclamation is indistinguishable from “Immorality leads to religion” — and as such, it is not evidence for either causing the other.

    Actually they are distinguishable, because being religious generally precedes having views about the acceptability of torture. But even if they weren’t distinguishable, that wouldn’t mean that the correlation isn’t evidence of both. There’s no logical problem with something being evidence for two inconsistent propositions, because there’s no logical problem with something being evidence for a false proposition — in fact, all evidence is evidence of numerous false propositions. That’s why scientific conclusions are forever tentative.

    A lot of people have trouble with the concept of evidence, thinking that the existence of evidence for something means it must be true, or even is probably true, but that simply isn’t the case. Of course, PZ’s title plays on this confusion and may even indicate his own confusion about evidence.

  134. #134 nothing's sacred
    May 1, 2009

    I expect it from many religious people but not from PZ.

    You must be very new here. PZ is intolerant of various sorts of nonsense, and even some sorts of non-nonsense (he isn’t always right, not even in his intolerances). He’s quite explicitly intolerant of creationism and accomodationism. If you just can’t bear that, you should probably hang out somewhere else.

  135. #135 Vestrati
    May 1, 2009

    ‘Seldom’ and ‘Never’ should have had their own categories in my opinion.

    Personally, I’m fine with torture in rare, isolated cases. It does serve a purpose however bad it is (I view waterboarding as quasi-torture, the diet coke of torture even).

    The results just don’t warrant using it being used in anything but an imminent crises and only on people that are known to have up to date information we need.

  136. #136 Fernando
    May 1, 2009

    Things are quite simple:

    Torture is always incorrect, imoral, evil, inhuman!

    I dont have the slight doubt about a people that suport torture (let alone use torture): its a danger to society, because broke some important boundaries concerning human relations.

    All religions (and in this i include tyranic states – like nazi Germany, estalinist Soviet Union or Maoist China) because put down the human liberties and free-thinking are, naturally, prone to use torture on their enemies, or to mind-control their followers (“if you are bad, you will go to Hell!”).

    The USA governement should prosecute, and condemn the responsables (political criminal and army torturers – they dont deserve the name of soldiers) to clean the good name of the USA.

    I admire the Constitution and the American Revolution (first democracy since Antiquity, and a laicist State for the first time in the Human History), and its a pity that some criminals could atract so much shame upon your country, my american friends.

    Stick together and demand that all suspects of use of torture must be presented to court, and the guilty one should be condemned.

    And, by the way: way the hell you have writed in about every place “In God we trust” when the true motto, and more beautiful(and not against the separation between State and religion), “E Plvribvs Vnvm”!?

  137. #137 Leanstrum
    May 1, 2009

    “Statistical evidence that religion leads to immorality”

    Or that immorality leads to religion. Either way, owned.

  138. #138 Josh
    May 1, 2009

    That’s why it took so long for plate tectonics to be proven; there was a lot of correlation, but no reasonable method of causation.

    I know this is nitty and OT, but these misunderstandings need to be corrected whenever they occur. The Theory of Plate Tectonics is a theory. It isn’t proven. It won’t be proven. It is a scientific theory which explains observations and ties together several related hypotheses. Is it extremely well supported? You bet your ass. Is it Truth? No.

  139. #139 Cheezits
    May 1, 2009

    I wouldn’t be happy with anything larger than 0%.

    Geez, you’re impossible to please. Obviously some people think it is justified to prevent a greater evil.

  140. #140 strange gods before me
    May 1, 2009

    Smoking causes cancer. There is a direct cause connection. It may vary based on other factors, but the connection always exist. It doesn’t cause one group to get cancer but cause groups people to get healthy.

    Are you certain? Aren’t there any genetic subgroups who are exceptionally immune to cancer? Nicotine has nootropic effects. If someone with mild dementia and a resistance to cancer were to take up smoking, it might cause them to get healthier.

    Nicotine really is nootropic. I’m bullshitting about cancer resistance but I don’t see it as implausible. More generally I think it’s legitimate to say “X causes Y” even when it’s not legitimate to say “X invariably causes Y.” Like jumping off an overpass into interstate traffic causes death, even though there are probably a few recorded survivors.

  141. #141 MosesZD
    May 1, 2009

    Posted by: teiren | April 30, 2009 11:19 PM

    More propaganda from Myers. What’s new.

    Propaganda, I do not think you understand what that term means…

  142. #142 strange gods before me
    May 1, 2009

    Oh, dog. Pedants.

    Look, guys: it is statistical evidence that religion leads to immorality. It does not prove causation, but the title doesn’t claim that it does.

    All right, that’s true, as far as it goes. My criticism was off the mark. I still think the more explanatory hypothesis is that being a high-RWA is a common cause of both church attendance and torture apologia. But then there may be an element of mutual causation, where church attendance early in life can be partially responsible for a person becoming a high-RWA.

  143. #143 MosesZD
    May 1, 2009

    Posted by: Anonymous | April 30, 2009 11:56 PM

    tieren & Patrick…fresh meat. The only question is Dollar Store, Wal-Mart or top grade Troll Market? PZ’s gotta splurge now and then. :)

    They’re dollar store twelve-year olds… No, that’d be an insult to all those smart twelve-year olds I’ve met in my life…

  144. They’re dollar store twelve-year olds… No, that’d be an insult to all those smart twelve-year olds I’ve met in my life…

    They’re Canner grade

  145. #145 Eidolon
    May 1, 2009

    I am not surprised by the poll results. One of the benefits (if it can be called that) of religion is it creates an Us/Them situation. “Them” is always just a bit less worthy than “Us”.

    I’m with PZ on this one, though. 0 is a good target number for the behavior in question. For those who claim that what was done was not torture, the answer is simple. If these were American soldiers being waterboarded and such, would you call it torture? If it was you on the receiving end, what would you call it?

  146. #146 MosesZD
    May 1, 2009

    Posted by: Kris Rhodes | May 1, 2009 12:34 AM

    The fallacy is that correlation IS NOT causation.

    I think it is a bad idea to claim that it is evidence, especially when it seems that both are going to be linked to underlying factors.

    Pointing that out does not mean I support torture, love jesus, think I’m better then you (or PZ, or anyone else), kill babies, eat babies, juggle babies, sniff cocaine, love you, hate you, have blue eyes, or that blue is my favorite color.

    Just as the freshmen fall for correlation = causation, when they OVER CORRECT for that fallacy, they jump to corollary fallacy. The bottom line is that correlation is one of the most common and most useful statistics. A correlation is, simply, a single number that describes the degree of relationship between two variables.

    Torture = Immoral
    More Religion, more endorsement of immoral behavior.

    Since pretty much all other factors in the populations are going to similar, the variable religious identification is reasonably well controlled for and will lead us to the causality. To simplify the issue, we just point out religious people are more likely to be immoral, which is contrary to their claims that they are more likely to be good.

    A classic case of projection.

    Now, why does religion cause this? It has, in great part, to do with its teachings and the way it is taught.

    For example, religion forces you to partition your mind. You must believe in something akin to the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. All evidence to the contrary cannot be accepted. YET, you must live in a world where your prayers are not answered, where injustices go unpunished and your faith and good efforts are not rewarded and claims made are never fulfilled. For example, the bible teaches you that God Will Provide, yet he never does and millions starve.

    Because the evidence is contrary, you partition. The more you partition, the easier it is for you to partition other things and lose your connection. Serial killers, most of them deeply religious and the majority being brought up evangelical or some other “hard shell” faith illustrate the extremes of this. As a bit of an aside, and an argument I’m not going to further pursue, there are approximately 30 unidentified serial killers in the US, Canada and Europe. Twenty-five of them are Americans. Leaving just five for the rest of the the “first world.” If you think the demented fuck-wittery of religion hasn’t helped build this discrepancy… You’re kidding yourself.

    To psychologically deal with the injustices of the world vis many of the claims of your faith, you have to adopt/reinforce the “just world hypothesis” in your mind. That is a dangerous process. A process commonly found in Christians, and the more radical, the stronger the process. In the “just world hypothesis” people get what they DESERVE. Therefore, if you were tortured, you DESERVE it… Otherwise it wouldn’t have happened to you. God would have moved the tortures or some silly shit… You were RAPED because you were bad and “deserved” it… You were ROBBED because you were bad and “deserved” it…

    Just like God punishes you and keeps you from being successful… Because you DESERVE it… Because you’re BAD… And UNWORTHY… And a SINNER…

    Anyway, I could go on… But I have the flu and it’s just too much effort… It’s going to, pretty much, be just quick-quips from me…

    Oh, BTW, I e-mailed the story to PZ and blurbed it on my blog. Who would Jesus Torture. I’m hopeful others did too. This hypocritical discrepancy in words and deeds needs to spread far and wide.

  147. #147 MosesZD
    May 1, 2009

    Posted by: Josh | May 1, 2009 7:08 AM

    That’s why it took so long for plate tectonics to be proven; there was a lot of correlation, but no reasonable method of causation.
    I know this is nitty and OT, but these misunderstandings need to be corrected whenever they occur. The Theory of Plate Tectonics is a theory. It isn’t proven. It won’t be proven. It is a scientific theory which explains observations and ties together several related hypotheses. Is it extremely well supported? You bet your ass. Is it Truth? No.

    ROTFLMAO. You’re decades behind.

  148. #148 raven
    May 1, 2009

    used the word reprehensible because I’m very bothered by intolerance in any form.

    Your concern is noted.

    The fundies have all but destroyed the USA during their 8 year disaster in power. Their goal is to set up a theocracy and head on back to the Dark Ages. They lie, hate and are dumb. Occasionally they kill. They are always try to cram their believes down everyone else’s throat.

    The majority of the US population is sick and tired of them. This is backed up by polls that state exactly that.

    I despise fundie xians for what they have done and what they want to do, not who they are. “As you sow, so shall you reap.” They earned it the hard way. If they would would leave the USA and normal people alone, guess what? No one would give a damn what they believe or what they do.

  149. #149 strange gods before me
    May 1, 2009

    Personally, I’m fine with torture in rare, isolated cases. It does serve a purpose however bad it is (I view waterboarding as quasi-torture, the diet coke of torture even).

    Then you are a bad person. Waterboarding is torture.

    Malcolm Nance, a Navy SEAL who has performed and undergone waterboarding, explains clearly why it is torture, and he would know better than you. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15844677

    Here is another account of waterboarding, obviously torture. http://www.boingboing.net/2007/12/23/what-waterboarding-f.html

    The results just don’t warrant using it being used in anything but an imminent crises and only on people that are known to have up to date information we need.

    Then the results don’t warrant it being used, ever.

    It has never been used the way you imagine. It cannot be used the way you imagine. If you have to torture someone 183 times to extract even a false confession, then you cannot get details of an imminent threat in time to do anything about it.

    The point of waterboard torture is to extract false confessions. That’s why the Chinese used it. That’s what our own SERE school understands it to be for. That’s what the Bush administration used it for. http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/of_course_false_confessions_were_the_point/

    When you advocate torture for any reason, you advocate torture for false confessions, because that’s all that torture is good for. You objectively hate America. Please leave.

  150. #150 Josh
    May 1, 2009

    ROTFLMAO. You’re decades behind.

    Really? Okay. I’m sure that you have the credentials in geology and the familiarity with the technical literature to make that statement. So please enlighten me.

  151. #151 strange gods before me
    May 1, 2009

    ROTFLMAO. You’re decades behind.

    As usual, Moses, you’re not as smart as you think you are.

  152. #152 Revyloution
    May 1, 2009

    Makes perfect sense to me. They think that when God comes down to visit, the only way to remove all of our original sin was to torture and murder god himself.

  153. #153 Matt Heath
    May 1, 2009

    Dammit, strange gods scooped me on posting Bob Altemeyer’s book (which is free and awesome and everyone should read it). RWA is clearly what’s at work here. People who crave a well defined in-group and fall in line behind conventional authority will tend to join churches and to support torture when done by their own government( especially a conservative one). This is both obvious and thoroughly tested Altemeyer.

    So we can’t infer anything like religion leading to immorality (although RWA scores are strengthened further by close in-groups such as churches, so there’s a bit of a feedback loop). We can infer that religiosity is (on average) an indicator of rather fucked up morality.

  154. #154 RJHoule
    May 1, 2009

    So on a hunch I typed “sadistic professor octopus” into Google. Guess who was at the top of the list?

    Remembering my days in university and the few papers I wrote; I wonder if a paper for PZ might not constitute as use of torture to extract information.

  155. #155 SteveM
    May 1, 2009

    Whether the headline, “… leads to …” is rigorously correct or not, to argue about it is to completely miss the point of the study. The important thing is that there is a correlation between the two, whether one causes the other or both are caused by a second factor is irrelevant. The point is that it disproves the assertion that religion causes morality and atheism causes immorality.

  156. #156 SteveM
    May 1, 2009

    I know this is nitty and OT, but these misunderstandings need to be corrected whenever they occur. The Theory of Plate Tectonics is a theory. It isn’t proven. It won’t be proven. It is a scientific theory which explains observations and ties together several related hypotheses. Is it extremely well supported? You bet your ass. Is it Truth? No.

    Maybe not “Truth”, but at this point, can’t we say it is “true”. Just as we say Evolution is a fact, Plate Tectonics is a fact.

  157. #157 Bill Dauphin
    May 1, 2009

    OT, but related to religion and statistics, embedded in this story is the interesting nugget that more Catholics than Protestants support Obama (by 67% to 58%), notwithstanding the whole Notre Dame kerfuffle and the abortion issue generally.

    This is in line with my longstanding notion that Catholics would be natural social liberals (in terms of their relations with the secular world), if only they could get away from their institutional perversity WRT sexuality.

  158. #158 The Other Elwood
    May 1, 2009

    Ah, the folks most likely to cry “persecution” for the slightest perceived injustice are the most willing to justify actual physical torture of others. The mind boggles.

    I came up in a mainline church and I cannot imagine any of the members every justifying this sort of thing under any circumstance back then. When the members began migrating to the Republican Party, I was hopeful that they could make the Republicans more Christian (that is to say compassionate and concerned for social justice). Instead, Christians became more Republican, embracing all of the worst aspects of the party and none of the best.

    The moral guidelines should be pretty clear: If you would be outraged to an action carrried out on a random neighborhood dog, you should not begin to even consider it appropriate to carry out on a fellow human being. At the same time, if seeing a dog tortured fails to bother you–well. . .we call those people psychopaths and lock them up, not give them positions in government and clergy.

  159. #159 strange gods before me
    May 1, 2009

    Maybe not “Truth”, but at this point, can’t we say it is “true”. Just as we say Evolution is a fact, Plate Tectonics is a fact.

    Sure, but “proof” has a much more rigorous meaning that only makes sense in strictly bounded domains like mathematics. This is why we have to respond to “evolution is just a theory, it hasn’t been proven” with “gravity is just a theory, it hasn’t been proven” and http://notjustatheory.com/ and so on.

  160. David the Skeptic with a giant S

    What exactly about the methods of science are you skeptical about? I expect you to bring evidence, and possibly some statistics performed upon that evidence, along with your arguments. Those are the sort of expectations scientists have.

  161. #161 dlb
    May 1, 2009

    I usually come to Pharyngula for an intelligent perspective on issues involving religion, science, and social issues, and I am usually rewarded with the fulfillment of my hopes.

    But I was surprised to note the discrepancy between the title of this post and the content. The title is “Statistical evidence that religion *leads* to immorality” (emphasis mine). The discrepancy is highlighted even in the first line, which reads, “church attendance is *correlated* with willingness to torture” (emphasis mine). A number of people have noted, correctly, that correlation does not equal causation. But I think Myers certainly understands the difference. The problem is likely one of sensationalism. I am worried about the author giving in to pressures to publish outlandish headlines in order to draw attention to a post that clearly does not support the statement in the title.

    Please keep the titles accurate.

  162. #162 Josh
    May 1, 2009

    Maybe not “Truth”, but at this point, can’t we say it is “true”. Just as we say Evolution is a fact, Plate Tectonics is a fact.

    I personally would never say plate tectonics is a fact any more than I would say the theory of evolution is a fact, because “plate tectonics” to most people in the biz implies the explanatory theory.

    You can sumarize the “fact” of evolution simply: life has changed through time. That life has changed through time is an observation; it’s a fact. This fact is explained by the various mechanisms that constitute the Theory of Evolution.

    It’s a little less clear with tectonics. I’m still a little uncomfortable just simply stating tectonics as a simple observation: the plates move. It’s almost certainly “true,” but the error bars are still much larger than the error bars attached to the statement “life has changed through time.” We still don’t have all of the plate boundaries well delinated and we still haven’t directly measured plate motion in most places. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s more complicated than just comparing changes between GPS receivers. We are still mostly relying on inference from observations rather than direct observations. In another 10 years, however, at this rate, I suspect we’ll really be there.

  163. #163 CW
    May 1, 2009

    the non-religious Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are credited with developing the modern suicide bomber.

    I guess I missed the part where the Tamil Tigers became humanists.

    That an organization is not specifically religiously dedicated does not make them an atheist (and certainly not a humanist) organization. In actual fact the Tigers are predominantly Hindu with some Tamil Christians.

  164. #164 CW
    May 1, 2009

    But I was surprised to note the discrepancy between the title of this post and the content. The title is “Statistical evidence that religion *leads* to immorality” (emphasis mine). The discrepancy is highlighted even in the first line, which reads, “church attendance is *correlated* with willingness to torture” (emphasis mine).

    You are correct that correlation is not proof of causation, but that’s probably why PZed said “Statistical evidence…” rather than “Conclusive proof that…”

  165. #165 Tulse
    May 1, 2009

    I guess I missed the part where the Tamil Tigers became humanists.

    That an organization is not specifically religiously dedicated does not make them an atheist

    The claim was that “100%” of suicide bombers are “Religious Wingnuts”. That’s not the case for the LTTE — they are motivated by ethnic nationalism, not religion. And yet, between 1980 and 2000 the LTTE carried out more suicide attacks than Hamas and Hezbollah over the same period. They are credited for inventing the suicide bomb vest.

  166. #166 CW
    May 1, 2009

    The claim was that “100%” of suicide bombers are “Religious Wingnuts”.

    I would point out that the claim was in fact:

    Religious Wingnuts (or Bad Guys) = 100%
    Atheists, Humanists (or Good Guys) = 0%

    Seemed to me rather clearly to be discussing a specific axis of Wingnut motivation. Ethnic Wingnuts, being neither religiously motivated nor “atheistically” motivated, are orthogonal to the discussion.

    Of course the fact remains that motivated by it or not the Tigers are overwhelmingly if not universally religious.

  167. #167 David
    May 1, 2009

    Thomas Lee Elifritz said:
    “What exactly about the methods of science are you skeptical about?”

    Thomas,

    Let’s look at what I said, and I suggest you read it very slowly:
    “In fact, I’m a Skeptic with a giant S, and a huge fan of this blog, though not of this article for the reasons already stated.”

    I’ll make a deal with you. If you can show where I said I was skeptical of scientific methods, I’ll be less skeptical that you’re an ignoramus. In the mean time I have a question for you Thomas. Why do you eat children and hate old people?

  168. #168 Kris Rhodes
    May 1, 2009

    It seems to me that people here are using such a loose definition of evidence that it is effectively meaningless.

    If correlation is evidence of causation, then the classic FSM chart of pirates and global temperature is evidence that pirates cause global cooling. And that global warming gets rid of pirates.

    And that is a silly definition of evidence.

  169. #169 skyotter
    May 1, 2009

    “the classic FSM chart of pirates and global temperature is evidence that pirates cause global cooling”

    yes. yes, it is. it is evidence that pirates cause global cooling. lucky for us we have mountains of OTHER evidence showing that this is not the case

    because, and this is important, *evidence* is not *proof*

    so it’s simple: bring counter-evidence showing an inverse correlation between religiousness and willingness-to-torture, and we’ll talk

  170. #170 David
    May 1, 2009

    PZ’s favorite online blog (sarcasm) currently has this as their lead story. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

  171. Let’s look at what I said, and I suggest you read it very slowly:

    Let’s review you’re reading comprehension, show me where I said that you personally were a religious retard. I just have trouble with someone being skeptical of religion, because religion is just so damn imaginary as not to be worth the time exercising your skepticism.

    By default that leaves science, since all other forms of nuttiness such as magic, superstitions and delusion are similarly not worth the time of skepticism. These sorts of beliefs have long ago been falsified. If you want to exercise skepticism with evidence, I suggest you exercise it on something reasonable, like super intelligent aliens fucking with your mind using advanced technology, because skepticism of scientific methods is similarly nutty, most of them having similarly been validated as effect methods of discerning and quantifying reality long ago. If you’ve got problems with science, invent a new method, it’s called evolution.

    So any way you look at it David, your skepticism is flawed.

    So tell us again, David, what is the target of your skepticism, and what evidence and statistics do you bring forth as scientific arguments for your skepticism, I have already posited a simple thought experiment outlining how the questions can slant the evidence, which has nothing to do what the statistics performed on that evidence reveal.

    That fact that you boast you are a Skeptic with a capital S reveals that you are a crackpot without any evidence at all.

  172. #172 Patricia, OM
    May 1, 2009

    Canner Grade, that’s funny. :)

  173. #173 David
    May 1, 2009

    Thomas Lee Elifritz said:

    “So tell us again, David, what is the target of your skepticism?”

    That you have a brain. I’m sure you manage to successfully cause some to write long responses to your strawman and logical fallacy ridden posts but I’m fairly quick to spot a troll.

  174. #174 Thomas Paine
    May 1, 2009

    Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.

  175. So tell us again, David, what is the target of your skepticism?

    That you have a brain.

    so you freely admit you have nothing to say. That explains the lack of evidence.

    Let me reiterate, David. Skepticism of a SCIENTIFIC CLAIM requires a counter claim of your own, with evidence to back it up. Those are minimal expectations of science, but science as we all well know, is not beholden to our expectations (thus evolution proceeds), thus we entertain crackpots of all stripes and colors, for their entertainment value alone. That would be you. You certainly haven’t let this scientist down. When you can embrace skepticism with a small ‘s’, get back to me. That sort of skeptisicm requires that you ignore a vast majority of delusional fluff, including but especially religion, and concentrate on asking yourself the right question. That question you need to be asking yourself is if the target of your skepticism is scientifically worthy, and if your skepticism is well founded.

    A lot of us have already asked those question, thus the comments section of this blog is for blowing of steam, ridiculing imaginary delusional beliefs, and insulting.

    I myself find that to be great therapy in a world inhabited by delusional humans in total denial of the severe and immediate problems we face.

  176. #176 phantomreader42
    May 1, 2009

    Jenny, braindead morally bankrupt death cultist @ #68:

    Why is it “immoral” for people to want to protect Americans, and use whatever means are necessary to do so?

    Total comprehension FAIL. But what one would expect from a worshipper of delusion.

    Torture does NOT protect Americans. It INCREASES terrorist recruitment, creates MORE enemies, causes severe trauma for OUR OWN SOLDIERS, and generates false confessions and bad data that WASTES our intelligence resources.

    Torture does not work for obtaining useful intelligence. It only works for extracting false confessions and spreading terror.

    We used to be better than this. We used to be a country that at least paid lip service to human rights. We fucked up royally a lot of times, but at least we used to TRY. Now the right-wing fuckwits have got everyone so terrified of their own shadows they’ll trade the fucking Constitution for a handful of glitter-covered shit.

    You, Jenny, are a traitor. You seek to destroy everything worthwhile about this country to save your own worthless hide. Go fuck yourself. You want to live in a country run by religous fanatics who get off on torturing anyone they feel like? Move to Iran. Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia. Join the fucking Axis of Evil, it’s what you want this country to do. Get off your ass and do it your own damn self.

  177. #177 David
    May 1, 2009

    Thomas Lee Elifritz said:

    “…strawman…strawman…strawman…When you can embrace skepticism with a small ‘s’, get back to me.”

    Thomas,

    Are you feeling threatened by the size of my S?

    “A lot of us have already asked those question, thus the comments section of this blog is for blowing of steam, ridiculing imaginary delusional beliefs, and insulting.”

    Yes, I noticed. The insult you hurled at someone earlier, “Hey tieren – Fuck your god, in the ass, without a condom” was especially clever.

    “I myself find that to be great therapy…”

    Well you definitely need therapy, that’s for sure.

  178. Are you feeling threatened by the size of my S?

    No, I am challenging the size of your intellect. Did I forget challenging is another one of the major reasons I come here?

    I can challenge scientists just as easy as I can insult religionists. Most of the scientists I encounter are extraordinarily fearful, and extraordinarily afraid.

    I’ve evolved beyond fear, especially beyond the fear of mere words. In an alien language, that might sound like ‘Garp’.

    Yes, I noticed. The insult you hurled at someone earlier, “Hey tieren – Fuck your god, in the ass, without a condom” was especially clever.

    Was that not clear enough? We wouldn’t want tieren’s genes to propagate now, would we, and a nice disease would do him good, although, I don’t see how fucking an imaginary god’s ass would do that. If tieren was created in the image of god, then all I can imagine is one great big godly ass.

    Fuck Your God Obama

    Notice the date. Do you think he got the message?

    Well you definitely need therapy, that’s for sure.

    What’s the matter, did I insult your imaginary god?

    Think it through, what did your parents do to create you?

    God sure loves fucking, apparently. It’s what drives evolution. So it you love your god, the result follows.

  179. sheesh people, use blockquoting.

    <blockquote>quoted text here</blockquote>

    looks like this

    quoted text here

  180. #180 skyotter
    May 1, 2009

    still not one iota of counter-evidence to weigh against these survey results, huh?

    oh, well. carry on with the semantic arguments and strawmen

  181. #181 Um. No.
    May 1, 2009

    To those complaining about the title of Myers’ entry – do recognize that Myers does this intentionally to propagandize against large social groups or religions. If you take time to analyze many of his entries carefully, you’ll soon be conscious of the fact that you are being exposed to various forms of propaganda when you read this blog, no different than the sorts used by advertising corporations. E.g., “Islam Hates Women” was the title of an entry wherein Myers merely noted an occurrence of a tiny fraction of Muslims degrading women. Same pattern in this entry.

    More and more rational folks are beginning to see this blog as the propaganda mill that it is. I am as every bit opposed to people like Myers as I am opposed to the charlatans of organized religion.

  182. More and more rational folks are beginning to see this blog as the propaganda mill that it is. I am as every bit opposed to people like Myers as I am opposed to the charlatans of organized religion.

    Would you like a cookie?

  183. #183 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 1, 2009

    Yawn, more concern trolls like Um.No. who says nothing of interest. Get a life people, we are here to have fun, not obey your stupid ass troll wishes. Present your real evidence or go home. Vague claims =/= evidence.

  184. #184 Denis Alexander
    May 1, 2009

    Hummm….

    Religion correlates with torture.
    Animal cruelty correlates with child abuse (HSUS, PeTA)
    Has anyone looked at religion vs. child abuse?

  185. #185 skyotter
    May 1, 2009

    Has anyone looked at religion vs. child abuse?

    first hit on Google:
    http://www.nospank.net/bottoms.pdf

    Religious beliefs can foster, encourage, and justify child abuse, yet religious motivations for child abuse and neglect have been virtually ignored in social science research. In this paper, we compare victims’ retrospective reports of religion-related child physical abuse to other reported cases of child physical abuse. We describe in statistical detail the nature and circumstances of the abuse, characteristics of victims and perpetrators, and the spiritual and psychological impact of the abuse. Results indicate that although the basic characteristics of religion-related physical abuse are similar to nonreligion-related physical abuse, religion-related abuse has significantly more negative implications for its victims’ long-term psychological well-being.

  186. #186 David
    May 1, 2009

    Posted by: Zombie Rev. BigDumbChimp

    sheesh people, use blockquoting.

    Thanks for the example Rev, will do.

  187. #187 OneHandClapping
    May 1, 2009

    RBDC said:

    sheesh people, use blockquoting.

    Whoa, weird. I read that as:

    sheep people, use blockquoting

  188. No problemo. It just makes it easier for everyone to read quotes.

  189. #189 David
    May 1, 2009

    Now I just want to know how you gave the example without the example showing up as a quote :-). Most forums use [quote]text here[/quote] but for obvious reasons when you explain it to someone else you have to write it something like ["quote"]text here[/"quote"] and then tell them not to use the “, otherwise they would not see the text because it actually would be quoted. Wny didn’t that happen with your example? OT, but I am eternally curious.

  190. you use the ASCII character translation to denote the < and >

    those are
    & l t ; = < (everything before the = )
    & g t ; = > (everything before the = )

    without spaces

    that’s kind of clear… i think

    without spaces

  191. #191 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 1, 2009

    David, BBS versus HTML.

  192. #192 nothing's sacred
    May 1, 2009

    It seems to me that people here are using such a loose definition of evidence that it is effectively meaningless.

    You have failed to provide in alternative definition, and you are misusing the word “meaningless”. Complaining that you don’t like something is not an argument that it is incorrect. The notion of evidence is inherently “loose” — evidence is something that leans toward a proposition, no matter how slightly. A piece of evidence is a component in a demonstration of a proposition, but it doesn’t generally determine the proposition. The “loose” definition is a dictionary definition, that is repeated in books on philosophy of science, and in the Wikipedia article:

    Evidence in its broadest sense includes everything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion. Giving or procuring evidence is the process of using those things that are either a) presumed to be true, or b) were themselves proven via evidence, to demonstrate an assertion’s truth. Evidence is the currency by which one fulfills the burden of proof.

    If correlation is evidence of causation, then the classic FSM chart of pirates and global temperature is evidence that pirates cause global cooling. And that global warming gets rid of pirates.

    You’re committing the fallacy of rebuttal through ridicule. Yes, it is evidence, incredibly weak evidence, which is countered by much stronger evidence against the proposition.

    And that is a silly definition of evidence.

    Ridicule is not rebuttal. It is the correct definition. If you think it’s silly, please provide a definition that isn’t silly and that accurately captures how the word is used.

  193. #193 nothing's sacred
    May 1, 2009

    The title is “Statistical evidence that religion *leads* to immorality” (emphasis mine). The discrepancy is highlighted even in the first line, which reads, “church attendance is *correlated* with willingness to torture” (emphasis mine).

    Your emphasis in the first case is misleading and misses what is important; the correct thing to be emphasized is “evidence that“. There is no discrepancy between the two statements; the correlation between church attendance and willingness to torture is statistical evidence that religion leads to (causes) immorality — because that correlation lends support to the causal proposition. It doesn’t imply it, to prove it, or demonstrate it, or establish it … “A is evidence of B” is a very weak relationship.

  194. #194 nothing's sacred
    May 1, 2009

    Sure, but “proof” has a much more rigorous meaning that only makes sense in strictly bounded domains like mathematics.

    Not necessarily; the word has considerably broader application than that. FBI tapes can prove conspiracy and memos can prove that officials knew things, even though it’s possible that these conclusions are incorrect. Probes can prove there’s water on various planets and looking through telescopes can prove that planets have rings around them, even though it’s possible that these conclusions are wrong. And so on.

  195. #195 nothing's sacred
    May 1, 2009

    you’ll soon be conscious of the fact that you are being exposed to various forms of propaganda when you read this blog

    propaganda: information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

    Yup. Deal with it.

  196. #196 Anonymous
    May 1, 2009

    We used to be better than this. We used to be a country that at least paid lip service to human rights. We fucked up royally a lot of times, but at least we used to TRY. Now the right-wing fuckwits have got everyone so terrified of their own shadows they’ll trade the fucking Constitution for a handful of glitter-covered shit.

    Indeed. I’m sure you include Obama, who voted in favor of the FISA Amendments Act and who continues to ignore calls to restore our Constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure, and who has expanded President Bush’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, among the “right-wing fuckwits”.

    Right?

  197. #197 Paliban Mom
    May 1, 2009

    Oops! #196 was me.

  198. Indeed. I’m sure you include Obama, who voted in favor of the FISA Amendments Act and who continues to ignore calls to restore our Constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure, and who has expanded President Bush’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, among the “right-wing fuckwits”.

    He’s in a much smaller capacity than them but I definitely am pissed about him still clinging to some of the secretive policies that the Bush cabal put into place.

  199. #199 'Tis Himself
    May 1, 2009

    I’m sure you include Obama…among the “right-wing fuckwits”.

    Interesting how the conservative thinks she’s won a point by showing that Obama isn’t a liberal but a center-right moderate. Which is what liberals have been saying all along.

  200. #200 nothing's sacred
    May 1, 2009

    I definitely am pissed about him still clinging to some of the secretive policies that the Bush cabal put into place.

    You might want to read http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/04/30/obama/index.html

    But — aside from the fact that Obama said the right thing last night on this topic, something we never would have heard from any Bush official — there are substantive positive aspects to Obama’s pretty words. His answer to Scherer’s question now makes it extremely difficult (a) for his DOJ to continue to assert this theory in court (now that the President himself has condemned it as “overbroad”) and, perhaps most importantly, (b) for the White House to oppose enactment of the State Secrets Act, which seeks to limit the privilege more or less in exactly the way Obama advocated.

    This morning, I asked Sen. Feingold — who has been highly critical of Obama’s state secrets behavior and is leading the way in the Senate to enact the State Secrets Act — what his reaction was to Obama’s comments and whether (as Obama claimed) there were any efforts underway by the White House to limit the privilege. This is the statement I received:

    I have been very critical of the Obama administration?s decisions to continue the Bush administration?s practice of seeking dismissal of entire cases based on the state secrets privilege. The President?s statement last night, however, was encouraging, and I hope it means that the administration will announce its support for the State Secrets Protection Act, which I have proposed along with several other senators. The administration?s backing would boost the bill?s already strong prospects in the Judiciary Committee and the Senate.

    Obama’s words on State Secrets last night were nice ones, even though he has contradicted them as fully as possible with his actions thus far. The only question worth asking is whether his actions will now comport with those words.

  201. #201 Anonymous
    May 1, 2009

    More and more rational folks are beginning to see this blog as the propaganda mill that it is. I am as every bit opposed to people like Myers as I am opposed to the charlatans of organized religion.

    And you are every bit as free to counter his propaganda with your own in the comments, or simply slam him to the ground WITH WORDS. The difference between you and him and many others here, is that we are secure in our faith that science will show us some answers, even when we fuck up big time, and looking at the general situation on this planet, the scientific community is one big fuck up even disregarding the religious nuts. And get this, as opposed to you and ‘David’ and the numerous ‘steves’, we don’t think that capitalizing the S in Skeptic is cool or even makes us a skeptic, and we use our real names with real links to real papers we have written, real results we have obtained, and real recommendations we have proposed, to improve upon our previous fuckups. That makes people like you look like the fucking cowards that you are, and people like us look like the real American patriots we are.

    If you don’t exercise the constitution that you have, what is the use of having it. Our abuse is just words, clearly protected by our constitution. If your faith can’t stand that kind of simple off hand abuse, it’s no faith at all. Our faith in science is very strong, we can take whatever abuse you can dish out, and we acknowledge our failures, admit them, learn something from them, and incorporate them into the framework that is called the edifice of science.

    We openly embrace scientific crackpotism as long as those nutty results are based upon sound scientific principles, they are entertainable because WE KNOW, WE ARE ABSOLUTELY SURE, that given that civilization survives long enough, one of those crackpot theories will be one of those paradigm busters that only comes around a few times a century.

    Religion just isn’t up to even the crackpot level, and this is the place to slam it. So if you want to slam PZ for slamming religion, just go right ahead. It’s great fun.

    If you can come up with even a definition of god that isn’t recursive in the extraterrestrial alien sense, go for it.

    Civilization on this planet is headed for disaster, and scientist have to become a lot more fearless and a lot more vocal if we are to solve these mostly solvable problems we face, such as nuclear states, habitat demise, global mass extinction, financial collapse, global warming and asteroid and comet impacts, just to name a few of the near term threats. Verbal abuse is not your enemy, trust me on that.

    What’s bad for children is often good for adults.

    Finally, if you aren’t smart enough to draw your own opinion of the limited veracity of a poll of small breadth, with specific and unique leading questions, probably science isn’t for you. You need to be able to think for yourself.

  202. #202 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 1, 2009

    We openly embrace scientific crackpotism as long as those nutty results are based upon sound scientific principles, they are entertainable because WE KNOW, WE ARE ABSOLUTELY SURE, that given that civilization survives long enough, one of those crackpot theories will be one of those paradigm busters that only comes around a few times a century.

    Religion just isn’t up to even the crackpot level, and this is the place to slam it. So if you want to slam PZ for slamming religion, just go right ahead. It’s great fun.

    If you can come up with even a definition of god that isn’t recursive in the extraterrestrial alien sense, go for it.

    I smell Molly nomination here, but I can’t nominate Anonymous.

  203. #203 Anonymous
    May 1, 2009

    I had to google ‘molly nomination’.

    It’s totally an ironic coincidence that I forgot to enter a name on that post. I had no idea it would be automatically anonymized by the automatic anonymizer. This could be a trend.

  204. #204 cyan
    May 1, 2009

    The individuals tortured were identified as Muslim. Anyone outside of your own about 150-member in-group: less identifiable as your own group (and so “real people”), more identifiable as non-tribe, so less empathy for them and therefore less caring about what they may experience.

    Understanding this concept as an inherited wiring is a different thing than accepting all inherited wiring as being the okay way to respond to current conditions; understanding the wiring is necessary but not sufficient: what is needed for sufficiency is analysis of current conditions and the synthesis of this with genetic wiring.

    This analysis and then synthesis requires additional energy input, ie work, so it is resisted by the general population.

    The skin over my frontal bone hurts from its contact with the surface on which the keyboard is sittin’.

  205. #205 Reuben Ternes
    May 2, 2009

    For anyone who is still interested in this topic, I have an in-depth analysis of this poll on my website. In general, it seems like the results are heavily influenced by the opinions of white Evangelicals, and that white mainline protestants do not have significantly different opinions about torture when compared to the religiously unaffiliated.

    http://www.apatternedworld.com/2009/05/understanding-surveys-current-survey.html

  206. #206 Steve Dutch
    May 4, 2009

    I keep tossing this out into allegedly scientific discussions of things like this, so far with no luck. Before we start blasting things as immoral, can we first have a definition of morality that isn’t merely your personal opinion, your gut feelings or sentiment, a group opinion, or an argument from [secular] authority? And can you rigorously demonstrate that your definition is valid? Because if the answer to any of the above is no, then you’re stating an unfounded dogma every bit as much as religionists. And if your only basis for your morailty is your opinion, why, in all seriousness, should anybody care?

    And to Josh up in 138 et seq., go to http://sideshow.jpl.nasa.gov/mbh/series.html for real time GPS data that show the actual movements of the plates. The station nearest to me is moving 16 mm/year nearly due west. It’s not the most user friendly site because it’s for people who know what the data mean and how to use it. The plates ARE moving. And in just about exactly the directions inferred from geologic evidence. Proven. Truth.

  207. #207 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 4, 2009

    Steve, this is your first post this thread unless you were one of the anonymous. Morality is not absolute. We recognize that. But it can be easily defined by starting with the golden rule. Treating people the way you would like to be treated. So our definition of morality may be different from a godbots, who thinks the bible is a source of morality. Anyone who has really read the bible knows better. That makes our morality better than the godbots, since it is more logical. We recognize that.

  208. #208 Patricia, OM
    May 4, 2009

    I’m sick of this morality horse shit. The catholic child molester is immoral, so is the pagan, atheist, mormon, muslim, child molester, ANY child molester.

    I agree with Nerd in #207.

  209. #209 Steve Dutch
    May 5, 2009

    Nerd: If your morality is simply “your definition,” then why should anyone care whether or not you think something is immoral? If that’s all you’ve got, how can you say you’re “more logical?” You say “morality is not absolute” but then claim yours is “better.” Does “better” have any wider meaning than your personal opinion? I’m ASKING for logic and rigor, and you give me arm-waving.
    Patricia: Do you care enough to demand the overturn of Kennedy v. Louisiana and Coker v. Georgia? Or are you just content to splutter on line?

  210. #210 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 5, 2009

    Steve, you either put something out there, like a true scientist would do, or stop tearing down our constructs. Get the picture? By the way, we don’t give a flying fuck about your opinion either. Don’t like my attitude? Lose yours.

  211. #211 Josh
    May 5, 2009

    @206–did you even read what I wrote? Because I fail to see how anything that you wrote in 206 falsifies what I wrote.

    It’s not the most user friendly site because it’s for people who know what the data mean and how to use it.

    And of course this would be you, right?

    Oh yeah, and “proven” and “truth” — yeah good scientific words there.

  212. #212 nothing's sacred
    May 6, 2009

    can we first have a definition of morality that isn’t merely your personal opinion, your gut feelings or sentiment, a group opinion, or an argument from [secular] authority?

    A definition of “morality”, such as “conformity to the rules of right conduct”, isn’t going to say anything about what morality is derived from. You are talking about a specification of what is or isn’t moral, and no, we can’t have one that isn’t made up of claims from personal opinion or from authority — it simply isn’t possible. And the “secular” distinction is irrelevant; moral claims don’t have any more or less purchase just because the book or person from which they are derived is claimed to be “holy”.

    And can you rigorously demonstrate that your definition is valid?

    You’re talking meaningless gibberish. First, definitions are valid if they match actual usage — but again, you’re not talking about a definition. And the concept of rigorous demonstration of validity doesn’t apply to moral claims — that’s a category mistake.

    Because if the answer to any of the above is no, then you’re stating an unfounded dogma every bit as much as religionists.

    Who is stating an unfounded dogma? It’s the religionists who claim that one must accept their moral pronouncements, even if one doesn’t. People aren’t religious who do that sort of thing are guilty as you charge, but you haven’t identified these persons. Other people make arguments that this or that is moral or immoral by appealing to the moral sense of their audience — that’s not dogma, that’s normal reason-based argumentation, like arguing for political policy based on what outcomes people value.

    And if your only basis for your morailty is your opinion, why, in all seriousness, should anybody care?

    You should only care if moral arguments make sense to you; if you share the speaker’s premises as to what is right or wrong.

    But if you’re right that no one should care about moral arguments that are only based on personal opinion (or gut feelings or sentiment or a group opinion or authority), then no one should care about any moral argument, because they are all based on that sort of thing. Again, anyone who claims that morality comes from god is simply expressing their opinion and arrogating to themselves an authority that isn’t theirs.

  213. #213 nothing's sacred
    May 6, 2009

    If that’s all you’ve got, how can you say you’re “more logical?”

    He referred the golden rule, which is about reciprocity and empathy. Do you really not understand how that isn’t merely opinion, but has a logical component, which would make it “better” in some sense than something completely ad hoc like “it’s in the bible”? “golden rule” morality is based on the notion that, if something would be harmful to me, it would be harmful to you, so I shouldn’t do it to you, on the assumption that harming people is bad. Where does that assumption come from? Well, in the case of kin it seems to be instinctual, and beyond that it’s inculcated into us by our parents and the rest of society, in order to create social cohesion. Why should one care whether others suffer? One just does, unless one is a sociopath, in which case there isn’t really any logical argument that one should. But there is the logical argument that one should act like one cares so as to be treated well by others rather than being punished or ostracized. And of course there’s the emotionally manipulative fear-based argument that, if you don’t act like you care, the big daddy in the sky will hand you over to an underground meanie who will hurt you forever. A big problem with that is that a lot of supposedly religious sociopaths don’t really believe that nonsense, so they have no qualms about hurting people if they can benefit from it.