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MPhil's Avatar Comment 1 by MPhil

Done, all four... one question appeared twice... thought the best option in that case would be to use the middle option for both, since one of them surely was mislabelled, actually a different question and will get evaluated as such.

Some questions were phrased inaccurately - like the one asking one's opinion concerning the statement "Jesus was not immortal, and did not ascend into heaven" (or something to that effect)... if one doesn't believe that Jesus ever existed, what should one answer?

The appropriate phrasing would have been "Assuming Jesus existed..." or something to that effect.

Also, why give people 5 options, anyone creating a survey will know that a middle option is extremely attractive and will get less detailed results.

Sun, 04 May 2008 22:14:00 UTC | #166275

Damien White's Avatar Comment 2 by Damien White

Done!

May the fourth be with you.

Sun, 04 May 2008 22:16:00 UTC | #166276

Raiko's Avatar Comment 3 by Raiko

Long survey is looooong.

Interesting. For a moment I was bewildered by some questions, but then I called into mind what it is for. However, seeing this posted in RD.net I wonder whether there's going to be an atheist-overhang in that survey. I shall do my best to recruit some Christian friends & family.

Sun, 04 May 2008 23:05:00 UTC | #166279

Dave_G's Avatar Comment 4 by Dave_G

Good point Raiko.

I Wonder if we could get a link on http://www.answersingenesis.org/ or an other Christian based forum.

Sun, 04 May 2008 23:26:00 UTC | #166282

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 5 by Richard Dawkins

However, seeing this posted in RD.net I wonder whether there's going to be an atheist-overhang in that survey. I shall do my best to recruit some Christian friends & family.

I Wonder if we could get a link on http://www.answersingenesis.org/ or an other Christian based forum.


I think we can assume that Sam will have thought of such things himself!

Richard

Sun, 04 May 2008 23:35:00 UTC | #166284

darlets's Avatar Comment 6 by darlets

This is great. I'm sending it to all my Christian friends.

I was at a dinner party on the weekend and the conversation turned to God.
My statement
"If you're being intellectually honest you can't say you're 100% certain of God's existence"
was followed by
"I'm 100% certain God Exists!"

:\

Sun, 04 May 2008 23:56:00 UTC | #166288

Blueboy5's Avatar Comment 7 by Blueboy5

I protest! The surveys are only for a) christians and b) atheists/non-believers. What about we poor deists? We always get ignored. I'm going to go stand in the corner and cry for a while.

Mon, 05 May 2008 00:03:00 UTC | #166290

MPhil's Avatar Comment 8 by MPhil

Prof. Dawkins,

I think we can assume that Sam will have thought of such things himself!


You are very probably correct, sir. Let us hope that most Christians who are made aware of this won't dismiss it because the study is done by a prominent atheist...

Knowing as we do that many of them are not very knowledgeable about science and the scientific method - or distrust science outright - I suspect many of them may falsely suspect bias or trickery because of the fact that Sam is behind it (among others). Can we assume that they are perfectly aware that bias is exactly what scientists do not want, because they want representative results? We know that many of them think Big Science has a conspiracy going when it comes to evolution, so I am skeptical.

Anyway - I am very interested in the results of this study.

Best,
-Michael

Mon, 05 May 2008 00:04:00 UTC | #166291

MPhil's Avatar Comment 9 by MPhil

Blueboy5,

I protest! The surveys are only for a) christians and b) atheists/non-believers. What about we poor deists?


I guess it's because deist usually aren't dogmatically fixed and emotionally invested in scripture or religion and politics, or perhaps even in the issue of moral value of belief or disbelief (at least those I know personally aren't). Thus, the neural activity when confronted with specific stimuli concerning these things may be less definitive, less valuable for this specific experiment.

... I really don't know. That's just my guess.

Mon, 05 May 2008 00:13:00 UTC | #166294

monkey74's Avatar Comment 10 by monkey74

I just finished all four surveys. It would be great to know a little bit more detail concerning results and how they will be used. Also, a reference to a post date that will show the outcome and/or further steps in research. The test is simple and all should participate in it. I'll try to get some friends (all christian) to try to contribute.

Mon, 05 May 2008 00:26:00 UTC | #166295

MrEmpirical's Avatar Comment 11 by MrEmpirical

MPhil,

I know what you mean about there being a middle option, but sometimes it's unavoidable. If there had been no middle option, I would have been stuffed by some of the questions. For example, to the question "I am more honest than the average person", I had to answer "I don't know", because I simply have no idea how honest the average person is, and so I have no idea whether or not I am more or less honest.

I think when you're asking about factual matters, such as whether or not people speak certain languages or whether the government ever raises taxes, it is appropriate to have a "I don't know" option. When you're asking about personal feelings, such as anxiety, depression, positive affectivity, etc., then it is a good idea not to include a middle option, because most people will lean one way or the other.

MrE.

Mon, 05 May 2008 00:29:00 UTC | #166297

AtheistGirl's Avatar Comment 12 by AtheistGirl

Hello all, this is my first post on the RDF.

Completed all 4 surveys - didn't find the task too onerous.

There was one question that seemed to have a minor error (unless it was deliberate for some reason):

"The existence of the mythical city of Atlantics has been established beyond any doubt."

I've emailed Sam's website to let them know.

Mon, 05 May 2008 00:35:00 UTC | #166299

louzer's Avatar Comment 13 by louzer

Sam, I think it was a bad idea to warn people that there would be a lot more of Survey 1 respondents if they don't do it random. People have a tendency to pick Survey 3 when they do it random.

Mon, 05 May 2008 00:41:00 UTC | #166300

SteveN's Avatar Comment 14 by SteveN

I have just finished all four surveys and, really, to the vast majority I had to answer "Strongly disagree " or "Strongly agree". There was only some degree of ambiguity with personal questions. I assume that this is a deliberate set-up to get some weak responses in the fMRI.

One question made me pause however: "There is too much innocent suffering for there to be an all-powerful God." On the face of it, I would select "Strongly agree", but of course, there may be an all-powerful but malevolent god who enjoys the suffering of innocents. I suspect the authors of the survey meant ""There is too much innocent suffering for there to be an all-powerful, benevolent God."

Mon, 05 May 2008 00:58:00 UTC | #166302

MPhil's Avatar Comment 15 by MPhil

MrEmpirical,

I guess you're right - personality tests shouldn't have a middle option... with factual questions it might be the only way to get people to answer them :)

AtheistGirl,

welcome to RDnet. If you are anything like me, you are going to enjoy your stay. Many wonderful discussion, a lot of interesting people, many people on here are extremely valuable resources of information - we have people with degrees in such fields as Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Philosophy - even some who took biblical studies.

And - just so you can't so no one warned you... we get a lot of visits from creationists and just mind-bogglingly stupid theists on here.
On the other hand - there have been many interesting discussions with reasonable theists on here as well.

So, welcome! And - enjoy your stay!

Mon, 05 May 2008 01:10:00 UTC | #166304

ADParker's Avatar Comment 16 by ADParker

Done, all four.
They aren't that long really and pretty simple, so give 'em a go if you haven't yet.

Mon, 05 May 2008 01:17:00 UTC | #166305

DLed's Avatar Comment 17 by DLed

I hope, that the study will go into some neuroscientific details, rather than just mapping using the fMRI. Considering Jeff Hawkins' theses about the uniformity of the neocortex (On Intelligence), it is comparatively not that interesting to observe, where the "belief centers" are, but rather, how they form, and what the mechanism is

Mon, 05 May 2008 01:41:00 UTC | #166309

AshtonBlack's Avatar Comment 18 by AshtonBlack

Done :) I hope this helps in some way :)

Mon, 05 May 2008 01:58:00 UTC | #166312

DamnDirtyApe's Avatar Comment 19 by DamnDirtyApe

Hopefully some interesting graphs will appear out of this....

Mon, 05 May 2008 02:27:00 UTC | #166316

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 20 by Roland_F

This questionnaire seems to be done with the hot needle; at least the 'D' has 2 times the same question with
#23 : I like to look at my body.
#24 : I like to look at my body.
And another one is quite similar (control question ?)
#45 : I like to look at myself in the mirror.

Possibly the 4 sets are to find out the most consistent 'black and white' answers for each group

17. Comment #175251 by DLed
it is comparatively not that interesting to observe, where the "belief centers" are, but rather, how they form, and what the mechanism is

A test like this was announced in another tread here in January, it's about finding out lies and self-deceptions via MRI. During answering the questions, the MRI should reveal if the answer is first intuitive given as nonbeliever (like virgin birth or resurrection myth) and then overwritten from another brain region 'religious center' in self-deception before giving the answer 'yes the virgin birth is true' .

Mon, 05 May 2008 02:44:00 UTC | #166319

beeline's Avatar Comment 21 by beeline

Bill Gates probably never used a computer.

I *really* wanted to click 'Strongly Agree' after that one...

Mon, 05 May 2008 02:44:00 UTC | #166320

bachfiend's Avatar Comment 22 by bachfiend

I have just finished all 4 surveys; the one about Jesus ascending to heaven was easy. Even if there wasn't a Jesus Christ (and there certainly wasn't), there still would have been a few Jesuses (??Jesii) in Jerusalem at the time, some even with a brother named James and a father named Joseph. The one about the world becoming a better place if I became world dictator was also easy, even after answering that I don't like being a leader or taking authority. After killing all the lawyers ("The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers", Henry VI {part 2}), the next thing I'd do is to put the various portfolios into the hands of the best people (eg Religious Affairs-Richard Dawkins, etc), then retire.

Mon, 05 May 2008 02:49:00 UTC | #166321

PJG's Avatar Comment 23 by PJG

I hate having to agree or disagree with statements like "I will be a success" and "I am going to be a great person"

It depends what you mean by "success" and "great"!

If you mean, "I will be a success" in terms that most people think of as "success" - fame, fortune, etc., then no, and I couldn't care less. If you mean "I will be a success" as in my personal life, making a good home, being a caring person with friends and family who think well of me, then yes, and that matters to me a great deal.

Having "don't know" as the middle option made some of the answers very tricky - Do I like to look at myself in the mirror? "It depends"! I don't "like" to look at myself in a narcissistic way but I don't NOT like to look at myself because I find my body offensive - I am indifferent - if I need to look in the mirror, I do, if not, I don't.

Of course, the "Does God exist" questions were easy-peesy!!! :o)

Mon, 05 May 2008 03:13:00 UTC | #166324

heisenberg76's Avatar Comment 24 by heisenberg76

I had a problem with two questions:

"Santa Claus really exists."

I do believe there is evidence for a person having existed that many people refer to as "Saint Nicholas". But I do not believe the gift-giving character exists.

and

"Jesus Christ can’t do anything to help humanity in the 21st century."

The (perhaps fictional) character "Jesus" is said to have said some pretty damn wise things.

Mon, 05 May 2008 03:29:00 UTC | #166327

nalfeshnee's Avatar Comment 25 by nalfeshnee

Done two so far.

Question and answer combo with the greatest comic potential so far:

Question: I am assertive
Answer: I strongly disagree

*G

Mon, 05 May 2008 03:43:00 UTC | #166331

ReasonToBeCheerful's Avatar Comment 26 by ReasonToBeCheerful


Sam, I think it was a bad idea to warn people that there would be a lot more of Survey 1 respondents if they don't do it random. People have a tendency to pick Survey 3 when they do it random.


As the system is currently set up, I'm not sure what viable alternative there would have been. By saying nothing, he'd get too many 1s, but by asking for a random number, he would get more 3s and fewer 1s, but there'd still be some people who'd choose 2 or 4. In my case, knowing that 3 is a psychologically pleasing 'random' number, I made a point of not choosing it.

Perhaps a better way would be to keep track of the numbers of each survey completed and then provide a 'Choose survey at random' button which would check which survey had the least replies so far and serve that. Additionally, a cookie could be used to ensure that a duplicate survey wasn't served to the same user on subsequent visits.

Mon, 05 May 2008 03:51:00 UTC | #166332

Demotruk's Avatar Comment 27 by Demotruk

I did all four.

There were some truly ridiculous questions. I assume they were there to test that you were paying attention.

I half expected to see something along the lines of "You disagree with this statement".

Mon, 05 May 2008 03:55:00 UTC | #166334

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 28 by rod-the-farmer

There was a considerable bias towards the U.S., with all the questions about U.S. government, etc. I would have liked to see a question like "What part of the world do you live in/are from ?" to help separate the potentially different responses from different areas & cultures. Given the noteworthy differences in things like religious beliefs between the U.S. and Europe, AND the substantial presence in these Comments from those based in Europe and Canada and even Australia, that may skew the results. Oh well, if I am so smart, howcum I am not rich ?

I too did all four, and reported a typo to Sam.

Mon, 05 May 2008 04:16:00 UTC | #166338

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 29 by Cartomancer

I tried taking the surveys, but once I had filled in the first page and clicked on the "submit" button it brought up that page again and wouldn't move on to the next one. My knowledge of arcane technomancy is feeble, so I haven't a clue how to solve this problem...

Mon, 05 May 2008 04:45:00 UTC | #166340

Star Spangled Eagle's Avatar Comment 30 by Star Spangled Eagle

so I haven't a clue how to solve this problem...


Carto: Have you looked for the answer in your cards, perhaps? ;)

Mon, 05 May 2008 04:48:00 UTC | #166341