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kriton's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by kriton

Comment 5 by I'm_not :

I think it's more important we make them justify it rather than psychonalysing them.

I get the impression that many atheists believe we can change peoples minds by appealing to reason and logic alone. I think this is a huge mistake. I would say that reasoning alone is actually quite ineffective when it comes to religion.

One of the most important reasons why religion exists, is that it fulfills psychological needs in people. There are of course other reasons, but without this ability there would definitely be less religion.

If you are blind to these needs and don't understand them, you are very unlikely to be able to change someones mind. In some cases, people actually become more attached to their beliefs if they are challenged. Se for example

Brendan Nyhan, Jason Reifler. When Corrections Fail: The Persistence of Political Misperceptions. Polit Behav (2010) 32:303–330

Helping people understand why they have the beliefs they have, and what they could do to try to fulfill their psychological needs some other way, would in many cases be more effective than reason alone, and the combination even more so. Anyone who has studied a little psychology and had the experience "ah, so THAT's why I do that" should know what I mean.

I have seen this dissmissive attitude towards psychology several times on this forum, and quite frankly I think it's downright irrational. It's like having two weapons and throwing one away and labeling it uncool because you haven't learned to use it.

Atheists are ignoring psychology at their peril, and sadly it seems they are doing it way too often.

Sun, 13 Mar 2011 16:17:51 UTC | #602292