Are You An Atheist at Heart? Take This Simple Test to Find Out!

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Chris Mooney writes today about research from Ara Norenzayan that isolates some of the cognitive traits that seem to be associated with atheists:

Less “mentalizing.” One of the most surprising scientific findings of the research on the causes of religiosity (or the lack thereof) involves a trait called “mentalizing.”….On a social level, mentalizing helps you connect with and relate to others….As for atheists? Norenzayan’s research suggests they tend toward less mentalizing, which makes religious beliefs less intuitive to them.

….Analytical thinking style. In addition to mentalizing, a number of other basic cognitive traits have also been shown to promote religiosity. One very important one is having an intuitive style of thinking, as opposed to an analytic, contemplative style that favors in-depth, effortful thought.

Well, he sure has me pegged. A third (non-cognitive) trait that Norenzayan thinks promotes atheism is material security: “Again and again in Norenzayan’s research, societies that are existentially secure—meaning that people have access to health care and a strong social safety net, that there is a strong rule of law, but also that they are not facing deadly diseases or natural disasters—tend toward less religion and also more tolerance of atheism.” So maybe those crazy conservatives are right after all. Maybe Obamacare really is a secular plot.

More at the link.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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