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Paper claiming kids’ religiosity decreased altruism retracted

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RETRACTION| VOLUME 29, ISSUE 15, P2595, AUGUST 05, 2019 Retraction Notice to: The Negative Association between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism across the World Jean Decety, Jason M. Cowell, Kang Lee, Susan Malcolm-Smith, Bilge Selcuk, Xinyue Zhou, … DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.07.030

(Current Biology 25, 2951–2955; November 16, 2015) In our paper, we reported cross-cultural differences in how the religious environment of a child negatively impacted their sharing, their judgments of the actions of others, and how their parents evaluated them. An error in this article, our incorrect inclusion of country of origin as a covariate in many analyses, was pointed out in a correspondence from Shariff, Willard, Muthukrishna, Kramer, and Henrich

(https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.06.031). When we reanalyzed these data to correct this error, we found that country of origin, rather than religious affiliation, is the primary predictor of several of the outcomes. While our title finding that increased household religiousness predicts less sharing in children remains significant, we feel it necessary to explicitly correct the scientific record, and we are therefore retracting the article. We apologize to the scientific community for any inconvenience caused.More.

But what was the paper doing in a biology journal anyway? Maybe the underlying assumptions should be unpacked.

Then there’s the whole question of whether “altruism” is a bogus concept, developed for just these purposes.


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6 Replies to “Paper claiming kids’ religiosity decreased altruism retracted

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related interest:

    Who Gives Most to Charity?
    Excerpt: And among individual givers in the U.S., while the wealthy do their part (as you’ll see later in this essay), the vast predominance of offerings come from average citizens of moderate income. Six out of ten U.S. households donate to charity in a given year, and the typical household’s annual gifts add up to between two and three thousand dollars.
    This is different from the patterns in any other country. Per capita, ­Americans voluntarily donate about seven times as much as continental ­Europeans. Even our cousins the Canadians give to charity at substantially lower rates, and at half the total volume of an American household.
    There are many reasons for this American distinction. Foremost is the fact that ours is the most religious nation in the industrial world. Religion motivates giving more than any other factor.
    https://www.philanthropyroundtable.org/almanac/statistics/who-gives

    Study finds it actually is better (and healthier) to give than to receive – February 4, 2013
    Excerpt: A five-year study by researchers at three universities has established that providing tangible assistance to others protects our health and lengthens our lives.
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/.....thier.html

    Atheist Myth: “No One Has Ever Killed in the Name of Atheism” – Nov. 2016
    Excerpt” “where are the army of atheists humanitarian traipsing about Africa and Asia giving hope to the poor and disadvantaged? Certainly none of the famous atheist polemicists have ever done so. Christopher Hitchens was asked on multiple occasions if he or other atheists who similarly had a poor opinion of St. Mother Teresa have actually gone to India and rolled up their sleeves to bathe lepers. I’ve asked many atheists including P.Z. Myers, Patricia Churchland and Christopher Hitchens and none have responded in the positive. Madalyn O’Hair never mentioned having done so. Mao and Stalin were busy killing tens of millions of their compatriots by engineering famines in their respective countries so it’s hard to imagine they also helped poor people. When I volunteered at Mother Teresa’s street clinics in Calcutta, I never met an atheist doing the same work but I routinely met Catholics doing so.”
    http://www.ncregister.com/blog.....of-atheism

    Who really cares? The fallacy of charitable secularism – Dec 18, 2017
    Excerpt: “Charitable”? “Giving”? Really?
    The most laughable part comes when Sam (Harris) begins arguing about “charitable giving.” He knows he cannot honestly claim that atheists give more to charitable causes than religious folk, so he uses the word “charitable,” but narrows the definition of the word almost into nothingness. He says,
    “Countries with high levels of atheism are also the most charitable both in terms of the percentage of their wealth they devote to social welfare programs and the percentage they give in aid to the developing world.”2
    Such a fact might shock the average casual reader until he sniffed out Sam’s fishy “terms.” Then we, together, have a good full belly-laugh. If by “devote” and “give” Sam means “devote through government confiscation, and give by forced taxation,” then he can hardly call it charity. Is this the charity of atheism? “Giving” when you may not want to, an amount you may not want to, and to be spent somehow you may not care for? What a blessed assurance! My, how charitable our atheist is with other people’s money. No, charity is voluntarily given. If it’s tax-generated, it ain’t charitable. Besides, boasting that less religious countries take more in government welfare reveals about as much as pointing out that Christians put more in church offering plates than atheists do. What? Really? Get outta here!
    If, however, Sam means “devote” and “give” in the true sense of “charity,” then his claim is so embarrassingly bogus that not even a third-world tax bureau would accept his tax returns. Unfortunately for Sam, he wrote this nonsense in his Letter to a Christian Nation just a few months before the actual science was done on charitable giving. November 2006 saw the release of the definitive in-depth study on the subject of charitable giving: Who Really Cares? by Syracuse professor Arthur Brooks. Results? Across the board, in every category, accounting for every variable, no matter how you slice the pie, the single biggest factor behind charitable giving is . . . religious faith.3 The amount of private charitable giving from American individuals alone (not including foundations, corporations, etc.) could easily finance the entire gross domestic product of Sam’s more “atheistic” nations, Sweden, Norway, or Denmark.4
    The results must be alarming for all secularists. The working poor in America give more than the poor on welfare who have the same income. In fact, the working poor give a larger percentage of their income than the middle class. Two-thirds of American private donations go to other than religious activities (in other words, about 70% in places other than church offering plates). Yet, religious people are more likely to donate even to secular causes than non-religious people are. America gives as much to foreign aid as other nations do, the difference is that we do it mostly through private charity and not government aid. We give it freely—not through socialist government compulsion. No European nation comes close to us in freely-given charitable donations.
    https://americanvision.org/1820/who-really-cares-the-fallacy-of-charitable-secularism/

    The Problem With Atheism According To A Secular Psychologist – 23/10/2017
    Excerpt: Psych Professor Jordan Peterson nails the problem with modern Atheism when he says:
    “What is irrational about me getting exactly what I want from every one of you whenever I want it at every possible second?…There’s nothing irrational about it. It’s pure naked self-interest.”
    He continues:
    “Why not every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost? It’s a perfectly coherent philosophy, and it’s actually one that you can institute in the world with a fair bit of material success if you want to do it.”
    – Jordan Peterson –,,,
    There are many possible situations where doing good can be considered irrational. Jewish social commentator Dennis Prager gives the following historical example that makes the point:
    “Was it rational or irrational for a non-Jew in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II to risk his or her life to hide a Jew? We all know that this was moral greatness of the highest order. But was it rational?”
    Prager’s answer:
    “Not really. You can’t get much more rational than self-preservation. Moreover, in all the studies I have read of non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust — and I have read many — I have never read of any rescuers who said that they did what they did because it was the reasonable or rational thing to do. Not one.”,,,
    It can be rational to cheat on a test, a business deal, or a marriage, if the rewards outweigh the risk of being caught. And it was irrational of non-Jews to put their own lives at enormous risk for the sake of helping Jews during the Holocaust.
    And so here, in a nutshell, is the problem for Atheism:
    4) If Doing Evil Can Be Rational, and Doing Good Can Be Irrational, Then Human Reason Alone Can’t Tell Us Right From Wrong.,,,
    So if it wasn’t reason alone that gave us the western view of human rights, human equality, and human dignity, then where did such a view of humanity come from?
    5) The Western View Of Morality and Human Equality Did Not Arise Through Human Reason Alone
    But Through the Religion of Judeo-Christianity.,,,
    In the words of Atheist philosopher Luc Ferry:
    “Christianity was to introduce the notion that humanity was fundamentally identical, that men were equal in dignity – an unprecedented idea at the time, and one to which our world owes its entire democratic inheritance.”
    https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-problem-with-atheism-according-to-a-secular-psychologist/

    “Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
    – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    Religious students more ‘moral’ than atheists or agnostics – study – March 2015
    Excerpt: The study of 10,200 students and 250 teachers from 68 UK schools took place between February 2013 and June 2014 and is the largest of its kind. Researchers used surveys, moral dilemma tests and interviews.
    The religious students scored higher on the moral dilemma tests and within the religious group, those who practised their religion scored more highly than those who did not. Girls also scored higher than boys when faced with moral dilemmas.,,,
    The report takes as its starting point the growing consensus in Britain that virtues such as honesty, self-control, fairness, gratitude and respect, which contribute to good moral character, are part of the solution to many of the challenges facing society today.
    http://www.christiantoday.com/...../49315.htm

    Verse

    Matthew 25:40-45
    And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
    Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
    For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
    I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
    Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
    Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    When we reanalyzed these data to correct this error, we found that country of origin, rather than religious affiliation, is the primary predictor of several of the outcomes. While our title finding that increased household religiousness predicts less sharing in children remains significant, we feel it necessary to explicitly correct the scientific record, and we are therefore retracting the article. We apologize to the scientific community for any inconvenience caused.

    (My emphases)
    In other words, the researchers detected an error in their analysis and retracted the paper themselves voluntarily so that they could correct it. They also felt that the title finding was still significant in spite of the error. People make mistakes. Responsible people, when they find they have made one, admit it and try to put it right. This is science as a self-correcting enterprise maintaining the integrity of its work.

  3. 3
    BobRyan says:

    Seversy @ 2
    Science should be self-correcting, yet Darwinists will always twist their lack of evidence into something they perceive should exist.

  4. 4
    Bob O'H says:

    But what was the paper doing in a biology journal anyway?

    I’m guessing because it’s about cognition in humans, who (the last time I looked) considered to be living, and therefore worthy of study in biology.

  5. 5
    BobRyan says:

    Bornagain @ 1
    Another well cited response. You summed up Darwinists perfectly with the following, …narrows the definition of the word almost into nothingness.
    We are dealing with people that do not value truth. They will twist anything to fit their agenda, regardless of the lack of evidence. Words are nothing more than a means to torture their thoughts to sound reasonable, but you cannot get reason from an unreasonable mind.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky states:

    People make mistakes. Responsible people, when they find they have made one, admit it and try to put it right. This is science as a self-correcting enterprise maintaining the integrity of its work.

    No it is NOT “science as a self-correcting enterprise maintaining the integrity of its work.” Science itself could care less about being wrong. “Science” is not a person. It takes a conscious person to be concerned about being right or wrong and to be concerned about the objective morality of maintaining integrity in his science.

    And yet, Darwinists, with their reductive materialistic foundation, hold that both objective morality and even persons themselves are illusory. Yet it takes a real person being concerned about real objective morality to tell the truth even when it inconveniences them. Darwinists can account for none of that.

    The Moral Argument – animated video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxiAikEk2vU

    “You are robots made out of meat. Which is what I am going to try to convince you of today”
    Jerry Coyne – No, You’re Not a Robot Made Out of Meat (Science Uprising 02) – video
    https://youtu.be/rQo6SWjwQIk?list=PLR8eQzfCOiS1OmYcqv_yQSpje4p7rAE7-&t=20

    “(Daniel) Dennett concludes, ‘nobody is conscious … we are all zombies’.”
    J.W. SCHOOLER & C.A. SCHREIBER – Experience, Meta-consciousness, and the Paradox of Introspection – 2004

    “We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.”
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    Nor can Seversky account for the origin of science itself which he apparently envisions as somehow being free from the pride and prejudices of its practitioners . Science was born out of the Christian worldview, not out of his atheistic worldview, ( a Christian worldview which holds, among other things, that we are obligated to tell the truth even when it inconveniences us).

    The Threat to the Scientific Method that Explains the Spate of Fraudulent Science Publications – Calvin Beisner | Jul 23, 2014
    Excerpt: It is precisely because modern science has abandoned its foundations in the Biblical worldview (which holds, among other things, that a personal, rational God designed a rational universe to be understood and controlled by rational persons made in His image) and the Biblical ethic (which holds, among other things, that we are obligated to tell the truth even when it inconveniences us) that science is collapsing.
    As such diverse historians and philosophers of science as Alfred North Whitehead, Pierre Duhem, Loren Eiseley, Rodney Stark, and many others have observed,, science—not an occasional flash of insight here and there, but a systematic, programmatic, ongoing way of studying and controlling the world—arose only once in history, and only in one place: medieval Europe, once known as “Christendom,” where that Biblical worldview reigned supreme. That is no accident. Science could not have arisen without that worldview.
    http://townhall.com/columnists...../page/full
    Several other resources backing up this claim are available, such as Thomas Woods, Stanley Jaki, David Linberg, Edward Grant, J.L. Heilbron, and Christopher Dawson.

    Science, especially since it is practiced by people with all their inherent flaws, is not some type of measuring device that can give you an accurate measurement regardless of the bias of whomever is doing the measuring, but science is subjected to all the pride and prejudices of the people who are practicing it. In many instances, extreme measures must be taken to eliminate potential bias of the researcher(s).

    Bias Is Unavoidable – Simply disclosing conflicts of interest is not enough. – Aug 7, 2012
    LISA COSGROVE
    Excerpt: It is part of the human condition to have implicit biases—and remain blissfully ignorant of them. Academic researchers, scientists, and clinicians are no exception; they are as marvelously flawed as everyone else. But it is not the cognitive bias that’s the problem. Rather, the denial that there is a problem is where the issues arise. Indeed, our capacity for self-deception was beautifully captured in the title of a recent book addressing researchers’ self-justificatory strategies, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me).
    Decades of research have demonstrated that cognitive biases are commonplace and very difficult to eradicate, and more recent studies suggest that disclosure of financial conflicts of interest may actually worsen bias. This is because bias is most often manifested in subtle ways unbeknownst to the researcher or clinician, and thus is usually implicit and unintentional.
    https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/opinion-bias-is-unavoidable-40630

    As Feynman stated, “you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that.”

    Cargo Cult Science
    by RICHARD P. FEYNMAN
    Some remarks on science, pseudoscience, and learning how to not fool yourself.
    But this long history of learning how to not fool ourselves—of having utter scientific integrity—is, I’m sorry to say, something that we haven’t specifically included in any particular course that I know of. We just hope you’ve caught on by osmosis.
    The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists.
    http://calteches.library.calte.....goCult.htm

    As an example of implicit bias that is inherent in scientists themselves, (and as was mentioned on another thread yesterday), studies now establish that the design inference is ‘knee jerk’ inference that is built into everyone, especially including atheists, and that atheists have to mentally work suppressing their “knee jerk” design inference!

    Is Atheism a Delusion?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ii-bsrHB0o

    Design Thinking Is Hardwired in the Human Brain. How Come? – October 17, 2012
    Excerpt: “Even Professional Scientists Are Compelled to See Purpose in Nature, Psychologists Find.” The article describes a test by Boston University’s psychology department, in which researchers found that “despite years of scientific training, even professional chemists, geologists, and physicists from major universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Yale cannot escape a deep-seated belief that natural phenomena exist for a purpose” ,,,
    Most interesting, though, are the questions begged by this research. One is whether it is even possible to purge teleology from explanation.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65381.html

    Richard Dawkins take heed: Even atheists instinctively believe in a creator says study – Mary Papenfuss – June 12, 2015
    Excerpt: Three studies at Boston University found that even among atheists, the “knee jerk” reaction to natural phenomenon is the belief that they’re purposefully designed by some intelligence, according to a report on the research in Cognition entitled the “Divided Mind of a disbeliever.”
    The findings “suggest that there is a deeply rooted natural tendency to view nature as designed,” writes a research team led by Elisa Järnefelt of Newman University. They also provide evidence that, in the researchers’ words, “religious non-belief is cognitively effortful.”
    Researchers attempted to plug into the automatic or “default” human brain by showing subjects images of natural landscapes and things made by human beings, then requiring lightning-fast responses to the question on whether “any being purposefully made the thing in the picture,” notes Pacific-Standard.
    “Religious participants’ baseline tendency to endorse nature as purposefully created was higher” than that of atheists, the study found. But non-religious participants “increasingly defaulted to understanding natural phenomena as purposefully made” when “they did not have time to censor their thinking,” wrote the researchers.
    The results suggest that “the tendency to construe both living and non-living nature as intentionally made derives from automatic cognitive processes, not just practised explicit beliefs,” the report concluded.
    The results were similar even among subjects from Finland, where atheism is not a controversial issue as it can be in the US.
    “Design-based intuitions run deep,” the researchers conclude, “persisting even in those with no explicit religious commitment and, indeed, even among those with an active aversion to them.”
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/richa.....dy-1505712

    i.e. It is not that Atheists do not see purpose and/or Design in nature and biology, (nor is it a case that Atheists have any empirical evidence for their claim that the design we see in the universe and life is an ‘illusion), it is that Atheists, for whatever severely misguided reason, live in denial of the purpose and/or Design that they themselves see in nature. And yes, ‘denialism’ is considered a mental illness. (denialism is an especially prevalent factor in treating drug addiction and alcoholism)

    In the psychology of human behavior, denialism is a person’s choice to deny reality, as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth.
    Denialism – Wikipedia

    Perhaps the two most famous quotes of atheists suppressing their innate ‘design inference’ are the following two quotes:

    “Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker, impress us with the illusion of design and planning.”
    Richard Dawkins – “The Blind Watchmaker” – 1986 – page 21

    “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”
    Francis Crick – What Mad Pursuit

    Thus in conclusion, Seversky’s belief that science is some sort of self correcting enterprise is shown to be an Utopian fantasy on his part. A Utopian fantasy that simply does not exist in the real world. Science, especially when it come to these issues of Origins, especially ID vs. Darwinism, is shown to be severely hampered by the a-priori prejudices of its practitioners.

    Verse:

    Romans 1:19-20
    For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

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