December 7, 2012

Does the Catholic Ritual of Confession and Absolution Make People More Prosocial?
“Recalling—or imagining—absolution strongly increased church donations,” the researchers concluded. “This effect was more pronounced the more participants believed in divine judgment and the more that they engaged in religious activities such as reading the Bible or praying.” (John Bingham, The Telegraph)

More on Biblical Literalists vs. Science
Last week’s essay, “Between Rock of Ages and a Hard Place,” by Nicholas Wade, on a comment by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida that the age of the earth was “one of the great mysteries,” prompted dozens of letters. Here are some of them, followed by a response from Wade. (The New York Times)

Aging Happily
Growing old can bring a renewed sense of happiness and well-being, despite physical and mental declines, researchers report today in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The finding adds to growing evidence that aging is not all “doom and gloom,” said Dilip Jeste, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego. Instead, old age can be a time of growth, and older people can be a helpful resource for younger generations. (Emily Sohn, Discovery News)

BOOKS
Why Humans Like to Cry

Randolph Cornelius: We are the only animals who shed tears from emotion. But why? And what parts of the brain govern our impulse to weep? In Why Humans Like to Cry, Michael Trimble looks to neuroscience, art, and evolution for answers. (CultureLab, New Scientist)

DEBATE
Science Refutes God

The discussion pitted the perspectives from both sides against one another: Does science refute religion? Or does science address a different set of questions, with answers that can point toward religious truths? (Wynne Parry, LiveScience)

Category: Field Notes

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