Miscellany, August 1

  • Following objections from Roman Catholic and other churches, official panel backtracks from assertion that New Zealand is “secular state” [NZ Herald]
  • “Preachers who are not believers,” paper by Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola [Evolutionary Psychology, PDF, via Alex Tabarrok]
  • Australia: “Followers sue religious group after doomsday fails to occur as promised” [Overlawyered]
  • A WorldNetDaily writer named Chrissy Satterfield applauds vandalizing atheist billboards, and boy, does Ken at Popehat ever have her number.
  • Tyler Cowen outlines his “portfolio model of dogmatism“:

    most people have an internal psychological need to fulfill a “quota of dogmatism.”  If you’re very dogmatic in one area, you may be less dogmatic in others.  I’ve also met people — I won’t name names — who are extremely dogmatic on ethical issues but quite open-minded on empirics.  The ethical dogmatism frees them up to follow the evidence on the empirics, as they don’t feel their overall beliefs are threatened by the empirical results.

    Some people, if they feel they must always follow the evidence, respond by skewing their interpretation of that evidence.

    There’s a lesson here.  If you wish to be a more open-minded thinker, adhere to some extreme and perhaps unreasonable fandoms, the more firmly believed the better and the more obscure the area the better.  This will help fulfill your dogmatism quota, yet without much skewing your more important beliefs.

  • “Do not swallow your moral code in tablet form”: Chris Hitchens on the Ten Commandments [Vanity Fair]

About Walter Olson

Fellow at a think tank in the Northeast specializing in law. Websites include overlawyered.com. Former columnist for Reason and Times Online (U.K.), contributor to National Review, etc.
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