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Morality

Is it immoral to believe in God?

Reinhard Marx (L), new archbishop of Munich and Freising takes oath on the Bible during his inauguration ceremony in Munich, February 1, 2008 (Credit: Reuters/Michael Dalder)In a recent New York Times op-ed piece titled "Why God is a Moral Issue", Michael Ruse asks why so many of the New Atheists find religion to be a moral issue rather than just a cognitive one. He points to Richard Dawkins saying "that he was more concerned about bringing a child up Catholic" than about the abuse of children by priests as evidence of this sort of thinking. As Ruse puts it, "You don't say something like that seriously – and Dawkins is always serious – without a deep sense that something is dreadfully morally wrong." He goes on to briefly describe some of the primary arguments for and against belief in God/gods before concluding with an explanation for his own atheism that is based upon his belief that it simply doesn't make sense to be a theist.

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Millenials: what is 'hooking up'?

A young man and woman dancing at the Vogonka Club in Kaliningrad, Russia, February 21, 2010 (Credit: Dima Bushkov via Flickr)Its that time of year once again.  When day becomes longer than night.  When brown becomes green.  When what's dead becomes alive.  When we open long-shuttered windows.  When there is love in the air.  It is spring!  For the younger among us that means Spring Break; the end of a school year; the hope for an endless summer; and perhaps finding true love.  But in their search for that love, traditional courtship has started to look much different.   What was once a quest for someone special to spend your life with has turned for many into settling to "hookup" with someone sexually for a single night.  Why, and what is this growing trend doing to the psyche of this generation born between 1980 and 2000?

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Why our brains lie to us

Brain lobes (Credit: Allan Ajifo via Flickr) In an article titled "Your Brain is Primed to Reach False Conclusions," Christie Aschwanden discusses the way that cognitive bias makes it so easy for our brains to incorrectly link one event as the cause of something else. The piece cites the way that many have erroneously linked vaccines with autism and seizures as an example of this mistaken correlation. This error is often called the "illusion of causality" and a recent study in the British Journal of Psychology has found that these illusions "don't just cement erroneous ideas in the mind; they can also prevent new information from correcting them." Aschwanden goes on to describe how research has shown that simply giving people new information that contradicts those illusions doesn't do much, if anything, to solve the problem.

In fact, the only tactic that has shown much promise in helping people to correct such mistakes is education. When people were taught about the illusion of causality and how to recognize it, they were more likely to avoid it in the future. That said, as Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan notes, "people don't apply their critical-thinking skills in the same way when they have a preference for who's right." Essentially, people aren't likely to be objective when it comes to things they care about.

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