August 10, 2012

Why We Need Science to Help Us Understand Religion
Scott Atran: In an age where religious and sacred causes are resurgent, there is urgent need for scientific effort to understand them. Now that humankind has acquired through science the power to destroy itself with nuclear weapons, we cannot afford to let science ignore religion and the sacred, or let scientists simply try to reason them away. Policymakers should leverage scientific understanding of what makes religion so potent a force for both cooperation and conflict, to help increase the one and lessen the other. (Foreign Policy)

Well-Being and Wisdom
What’s correlated with well-being, say Richard Nisbett, Igor Grossman, and three other authors, isn’t reasoning ability in the abstract but rather “wise reasoning”—reasoning that is “pragmatic,” helping us “navigate important challenges in social life.” (Robert Wright, The Atlantic)

Why Do Some People Jump in Front of Bullets?
Why do some people confront danger while most scamper for the exits? Altruism emerges in many disasters. (John Cloud, Healthland, TIME)

Aggressive Dogs and Their Owners
Owners of stereotypically aggressive dog breeds such as German shepherds and Rottweilers are more likely to be hostile and aggressive themselves compared with owners of typically laid-back pooches such as Labrador retrievers, according to a new study. In this study, aggressive dog-breed owners scored higher in the personality trait of psychoticism, which is marked by anger, hostility, and aggression. (Psychoticism is different than psychopathy, a personality disorder characterized by manipulativeness and lack of empathy.) (Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience)

Spiritual Psychology at Columbia University
In January, Columbia began a spirituality concentration in its clinical psychology master’s program, and last month, the university created a broader program, the Spirituality and Mind-Body Institute, to conduct research and host colloquia. There were already institutes around the country—like the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and the Institute for Transpersonal Studies in Santa Cruz—teaching from similar perspectives, as well as faith-based universities that teach psychology in particular religious contexts. But Columbia is the first Ivy League university to develop a master’s concentration in spiritual psychology. (Sharon Otterman, The New York Times)

New Map of the Universe
The largest 3-D map yet of the universe’s huge galaxies and bright black holes may serve as a springboard toward solving some of astronomy’s greatest mysteries, its creators say. (

Category: Field Notes


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