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Belief special: What's it all about?
« on: 2006-02-02 14:14:48 »
New Scientist: Belief special: What's it all about?
Whether or not you call yourself religious there are things you believe in. The notion that humans are essentially benevolent, perhaps - or maybe the exact opposite. Some hard-line atheists believe religion is the root of all evil, the very antithesis of science, and certainly not a proper subject for scientific inquiry. But a growing number of researchers think otherwise. The study of belief in all its forms has become a very hot topic, and in this three-feature special New Scientist examines some of the emerging ideas.
Starting from the standpoint that religious belief is a part of human nature, Robin Dunbar addresses two key questions about its origins: why did it evolve, and at what stage did our ancestors start believing in gods (How evolution found God). Dunbar notes that actively religious people live longer, healthier lives, but as Alison Motluk reveals in "When delusion triumphs over truth", we can learn most about the neurobiological underpinnings of belief by studying people with both physical and mental illnesses. The placebo effect shows, for example, how even a misplaced belief can have positive results. Finally, in Glad to be gullible", Clare Wilson takes this idea a step further. She asks why so many people believe in the paranormal, and discovers that being gullible has its upside.
Belief special: What's it all about? (requires subscription)
Question is, anyone got a subscription and would be so kind as to share it?