Browsing All Posts filed under »sociology«

Why do people vote Republican?

September 11, 2008


An interesting article on about the psychology of voting behaviour. The take is quite similar to David Sloan Wilson’s (due to the shared influence of Durkheim) even if it does not talk about group selection: A Durkheimian ethos can’t be supported by the two moral foundations that hold up a Millian society (harm/care and […]

Fact, fable, and Stark

July 18, 2008


One of the things David Sloan Wilson suggested that I should look at is Rodney Stark’s work on religion. Wilson, in his own work, makes quite a bit of use of Stark’s explanation of religious practices in terms of transactions for scarce or unavailable goods such as eternal life. Looking through the Internet I did […]

Article for The Skeptic

July 14, 2008


A few months ago I mentioned an article on David Sloan Wilson I had written for The Skeptic. When I got into the office today an e-mail from Michael Shermer was waiting for me, saying that he was going to publish the article in the next available issue. As it happens, David Sloan Wilson had […]

Outline of In a Mirror, Darkly: How Superstitions Reflect Rationality

March 14, 2008


As part of my report on what I have done at the KLI over the last few months I had to write an outline of the book I’m working on. This helped me to clarify some of my ideas while making it obvious to me what other things I still need to think a bit […]

The fixation of superstitious beliefs

February 5, 2008


NOTE (June 2nd, 2009): This entry has been getting a lot of visitors form the Philippines every June. I would be very interested to find out why. So, if you know, please write in the comments what the reason is for this annual visitation. I should also add that I have now put a longer […]

Magic, superstition and Durkheim

December 14, 2007


A while ago I received a comment to one of my posts that was dismissive enough to be down right rude. The poster was protesting my use of Durkheim’s religion/magic distinction to talk about the difference between religion and superstition. He objected to my equating magic with superstition. As the poster neglected to justify his […]

Zusne and Jones on magic in traditional and Western societies

December 5, 2007


Here’s a quote from Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Magical Thinking by L. Zusne and W. Jones (p. 246): Although the incidence of practice of superstitious magic may be thought to be surprisingly high in Western societies, it would be incorrect to assume that their attitude toward magic is the same as it is among […]

Diamond on Wilson

November 30, 2007


I have just come across a New York Review of Books review of Darwin’s Cathedral. The review was written by Jared Diamond. Getting Diamond to review Wilson was the perfect choice as both exhibit a rare breadth of knowledge, depth of understanding and intellectual modesty. Diamond writes: Obviously, the main subject of Darwin’s Cathedral—religion—is widely […]

Darwin’s Cathedral by David Sloan Wilson

November 20, 2007


I have finally read David Sloan Wilson’s book Darwin’s Cathedral. Wilson, whom I have already mentioned numerous times, tries to explain religion as a group-level adaptation, by giving an evolutionary interpretation of Durkheim’s functionalism. I really like the book for a number of reasons. First of all, Wilson shows a generosity towards other researchers, even […]

Education and persistence of traditional beliefs

November 7, 2007


Gustav Jahoda directed me to a series of letters in Nature that report studies on the effect of education on belief in various supernatural beliefs. The first study was written by Jahoda, himself: Scientific Training and the Persistence of Traditional Beliefs among West African University Students, Nature 220, 1968, pp. 1356-7. It is followed by […]


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