from month 12/2013

Big Gods Book Club #6: Concluding Thoughts

In what follows I’ll make some general concluding comments, and also address four remaining posts by Nicolas, Olivier and Martin, who raise similar points, and Claire, who is offering ideas about how karmic religions work. I want to say again that I wrote this book as the most up-to-date ...

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‘Big Gods’ book club #5: Remarks on the two puzzles

I like Ara’s way of studying scientific problems very much, weaving together various disciplines from evolutionary modelling to experimental psychology or social anthropology, and I also like the way he tries to solve the questions he raises. However, I am less enthusiastic about the puzzles he ...

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‘Big Gods’ book club #4: Alternative explanations?

- atheists flout a “precautionary principle” (considering that  supernatural punishment is possible). -atheists are less risk-averse than others (given the possibility of a supernatural punishment, an atheist still chooses to behave as if there was no hell) - atheists have a bad perception ...

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‘Big Gods’ book club #3 : Testing more specific hypotheses and going beyond correlations in the orig

(This week, cognitionandculture.net is hosting a "book club" webinar discussing Ara Norenzayan's latest book with its author. This précis introduced the discussion.) In his insightful précis, Ara Norenzayan proposes a model of how religions with “Big Gods” have become almost universal. ...

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‘Big Gods’ book club #2: Analytic atheism and the puzzle of apologetic

(This week, cognitionandculture.net is hosting a "book club" webinar discussing Ara Norenzayan's latest book with its author. This précis introduced the discussion.) Norenzayan’s Big Gods presents an elegant account of how belief in super-knowing, powerful and morally concerned gods emerged ...

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‘Big Gods’ book club #1 — Skeptical thoughts

Be that as it may, I am tempted to read this précis as an attempt to stress the political consequences of the birth of moral religions. We all agree (don't we?) that they were huge, especially in the long term — and growing more substantial as more and more people on the planet become exposed to ...

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A précis of ‘Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict’

  Two Puzzles The first puzzle is large-scale human cooperation. Up to about 12,000 years ago all human beings lived in relatively small bands of foragers. Today, virtually everyone, more than 99.99 percent of humanity, lives in vast, cooperative groups of mostly unrelated strangers. ...

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A Cultural Epidemiology of Monsters?

A new book by the archeologist David Wengrow: The Origins of Monsters: Image and Cognition in the First Age of Mechanical Reproduction (Princeton U.P.) The blurb: It has often been claimed that "monsters"--supernatural creatures with bodies composed from multiple species--play a ...

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The Phylogeny of ATU 333 (a.k.a. Little Red Riding Hood)

An interesting, methodologically innovative paper by Jamie Terhani in PLoS One on the phylogeny of "Little Red Riding Hood." Abstract: Researchers have long been fascinated by the strong continuities evident in the oral traditions associated with different cultures. According to the ...

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