How Analytic Thinking Erodes Religious Belief

New psychological research shows that when people are prompted to think analytically, they downplay their belief in supernatural beings like God and angels. Are you a believer? 

What's the Latest Development?


Individuals prompted to think analytically downplay their belief in the supernatural, according to a psychological study completed at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. In an experiment, 93 students were asked to rate their belief in divine beings like God and angels. Two weeks later, the students were prompted to think analytically by unscrambling words like 'ponder' and 'rational'. "The students who had been exposed to analytical priming consistently downgraded their belief in the supernatural, regardless of their previous degree of belief."

What's the Big Idea?

Scientists explain the experiment's result by dividing thought into two categories: intuitive and analytic. Both kinds of thinking are used by everyone to process information, the former being quick and emotional while the latter is slower and more considerate. Intuitive thinking is associated with belief in the supernatural, and while analytic thinking does not necessarily cause disbelief, "activating analytical thinking can override the intuitive system—and vice versa," said the scientists behind the recent study. Still, other things like the fear of death encourage religious belief which would not be undermined by analytic thinking. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com


Why the federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Water may be an inevitable result of the process that forms rocky planets

New research identifies an unexpected source for some of earth's water.

Surprising Science
  • A lot of Earth's water is asteroidal in origin, but some of it may come from dissolved solar nebula gas.
  • Our planet hides majority of its water inside: two oceans in the mantle and 4–5 in the core.
  • New reason to suspect that water is abundant throughout the universe.
Keep reading Show less