We usually have no interest in social science, but this item in PhysOrg is different: Reliance on reason, evidence as a moral issue measured in study. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
The theory of evolution by natural selection is one of several examples of societal disputes that center on the validity of specific beliefs, where one position is backed up by logical reasoning and scientific evidence, and the other is not.
Great start! And it’s certain to enrage people like ol’ Hambo. Now that they have our attention, we’ll proceed:
While some people rely more on reason and evidence than others when deciding on their beliefs, a new report from psychologists at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Exeter suggests people can also come to see a reliance on reason and evidence as a moral issue – to see the rationality of another’s beliefs as indicative of their morality.
They’re talking about your Curmudgeon! We can’t quit now. Then we’re told:
In a project involving eight studies, the researchers developed a scale designed to quantify the extent to which people moralize rationality. “The scale does not simply measure a strong preference for being a rational person, but a moral conviction that we all should rely on logic and evidence when we form and evaluate beliefs,” said Tomas Ståhl, UIC visiting assistant professor of psychology and lead author of the study published in PLOS ONE.
This is the published paper: Moralized Rationality: Relying on Logic and Evidence in the Formation and Evaluation of Belief Can Be Seen as a Moral Issue. You can read it online without a subscription. Back to PhysOrg:
The findings show that people who moralize rationality judge others they see as less rational much more harshly. “They see these individuals as less moral; prefer to distance themselves from them; and under some circumstances, even prefer them to be punished for their irrational behavior,” Ståhl said. “By contrast, individuals who moralized rationality judged others who were perceived as rational as more moral and worthy of praise.”
Well, dear reader, do you judge creationists as less moral than you are? Do you prefer to distance yourself from them? Your Curmudgeon feels that way about the leaders of various creationist outfits — but we’re not interested in punishing them. As for their followers, well, there’s nothing immoral about being ignorant — but there’s nothing praiseworthy about it. One final excerpt from PhysOrg:
While morality is commonly linked to religiosity and a belief in God, the current research identifies a secular moral value and how it may affect individuals’ interpersonal relations and societal engagement.
The results seem obvious to us. There’s nothing moral about denigrating science to promote an inherently goofy belief system, nor in blindly following such a system. It’s hard to believe that this study is actually breaking new ground.
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