October 8, 2014

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Education, Religion, and Superstition
The study finds that more education, in the form of more years of formal schooling, has “consistently large negative effects” on an individual’s likelihood of attending religious services, as well as their likelihood of praying frequently. More schooling also makes people less likely to harbor superstitious beliefs, like belief in the protective power of lucky charms (rabbit’s feet, four leaf clovers), or a tendency to take horoscopes seriously. (Christopher Ingraham, Wonkblog, The Washington Post)

Do Brands Reduce Religious Commitment?
There’s a weird amount of overlap, after all, between the two concepts, given that both tie into deep parts of people’s senses of self-identity, so Keisha Cutright and her colleagues set out to poke and prod at the relationship between the two concepts in a new Journal of Experimental Psychology: General study. (Jesse Singal, Science of Us, New York Magazine)

Why Does Buying Experiences Make Us Happier Than Buying Material Things?
In the journal Psychological Science last month, Thomas Gilovich and Matthew Killingsworth, along with Cornell doctoral candidate Amit Kumar, expanded on the current understanding that spending money on experiences “provide[s] more enduring happiness.” They looked specifically at anticipation as a driver of that happiness; whether the benefit of spending money on an experience accrues before the purchase has been made, in addition to after. And, yes, it does. (James Hamblin, The Atlantic)

Can Slacktivism Lead to Activism?
What is the value and what are the limits of “slacktivism”—low-risk, low-cost activities that aim to make the world better? (Sinai and Synapses Discussion Forum)

Q&A
Daniel Garber

Gary Gutting: This is the 12th and last in a series of interviews about religion that I am conducting for The Stone. The interviewee for this installment is Daniel Garber, a professor of philosophy at Princeton University, specializing in philosophy and science in the period of Galileo and Newton. In a week or two, I’ll conclude with a wrap-up column on the series. (The Stone, Opinionator, The New York Times)

Category: Field Notes

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