Why Religion Breeds Both Compassion and Hatred – Pacific Standard

Why Religion Breeds Both Compassion and Hatred – Pacific Standard

President Donald Trump probably would not have been elected if not for the overwhelming support he enjoyed from evangelical Christians. This continues to puzzle and frustrate his opponents, who ask why they voted for a man whose campaign was largely based on hatred and vilification.

While it’s easy to blame tribalism or simple hypocrisy, newly published research suggests religiosity exerts two distinct psychological pulls.

It argues genuine piety can be a catalyst for compassion. But the shared rituals that create a cohesive congregation “may also produce hatred of others”—especially among those who lack deeply felt spiritual beliefs.

“Our data suggest that the social activities which accompany religion drive the hostility towards other groups, rather than the quality of one’s belief or the degree of devotion,” a research team led by Rod Lynch of the University of Missouri writes in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science.

Building on research that dates back to the 1960s, Lynch and his colleagues remind us that religious people come in two varieties: true believers, and those who embrace a faith tradition as a way of fulfilling some secular need, such as peace of mind or connection to a community.

This distinction between “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” religiosity was laid out by the influential psychologist Gordon Allport in the 1960s, who reported ethnic prejudice was associated only with the latter. Much later research found this to also be true of homophobia.

Lynch’s study, the latest in a long line, featured 163 people living in rural Jamaica. The researchers consider this a good population for examining prejudice formation, since they “share similar socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, and are all from the same mixed race and culture.”

To measure intrinsic belief, each participant indicated how strongly they agreed with nine statements, such as “My religious beliefs are really what lie behind my whole approach to life.”

Extrinsic beliefs were measured by their responses to nine different assertions, including “What religion offers me most is comfort when sorrows and misfortune strike,” and “Occasionally I find it necessary to compromise my religious beliefs in order to protect my social and economic well-being.”

Participants also indicated how frequently they prayed, and how often they attended services. To measure hostility to outsiders, they responded to one additional statement: “I blame people of other religions for much of the trouble in the world.”

“We found that religious beliefs themselves are positively associated with a willingness to sacrifice for one’s beliefs, and a greater tolerance of (outsiders),” the researchers report. However, “the social facets of religion, such as attendance, promote greater hostility” toward people of other faiths.

One specific finding is telling: Frequently attending services (and thereby cementing one’s inclusion in the community) was linked to higher levels of bigotry against non-believers, but “devotion to religious principles” was linked to lower levels. It seems a connection with the divine inspires an inclusive outlook.

The results suggest joining together with like-minded others, and using rituals to affirm your bond, can produce a distrust and dislike of outsiders. Actual spiritual devotion negates these prejudicial impulses—but when that’s lacking, they can drive one’s beliefs and behaviors.

So when it comes to religion and prejudice, it seems the problem is not the genuinely devout, but rather the hangers-on.



For Terrorists, Morality Has a Different Meaning – Pacific Standard

For Terrorists, Morality Has a Different Meaning – Pacific Standard

As crowds filed out of the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena on Monday night, 22-year-old suicide bomber Salmon Abedi detonated a homemade device just inside the building, killing 22 and injuring dozens more.

Following an investigation that found Abedi was part of a wider terrorist network, and the Islamic State claiming responsibility for the Manchester attack, British Prime Minister Theresa May raised the nation’s terror alert to its highest level.

Such tragic events inevitably make us question how terrorists can carry out these atrocities. A new study published today in Nature Human Behavior may offer some insights: Their moral reasoning is fundamentally different from the rest of ours.

The study looks at how terrorists’ moral judgment differs not just from that of the rest of us, but from other violent criminals as well.

For insights into the mindset of terrorists, an international team of researchers from Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Australia, and the United States turned to Colombian prisons, where decades of violent conflict between right-wing paramilitary groups and left-wing insurgents have left the country with one of the highest terrorism rates in the world.

The researchers compared 66 members of a paramilitary terrorist group who had been convicted and incarcerated for murder (with a mean of 33 victims) with 66 non-criminal controls and 13 non-terrorist murderers on tests for IQ, aggression, emotion recognition, and moral judgment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the terrorists were more aggressive than their non-criminal counterparts, and worse at detecting others’ emotions. But the most significant distinction was in their moral judgments of four imaginary scenarios between two women named Grace and Alice.

In each case, Grace adds a white powder to Alice’s coffee. Sometimes, that white powder is toxic and Alice dies, and sometimes it is sugar and Alice gets to enjoy her coffee. But Grace’s intent also varied: Sometimes she meant to harm Alice, and other times she genuinely thought the toxic white substance was sugar.

Both non-criminals and non-terrorist criminals in the study followed this pattern, deeming accidental harm (cases where Grace didn’t know the white powder was toxic) as more permissible than attempted harm (cases where Grace thought the white powder she gave Alice was toxic, but it was actually sugar).

This finding gels with past research that has found most people believe intent matters as much, if not more, than outcome when evaluating the morality of one’s actions. Look no further than our legal system for a real world example: Attempted murderers are usually judged harshly, while those who cause accidental harm are often granted more leniency.

But the terrorists found accidental harm to be less permissible, and attempted harm—in cases where Alice still escaped unscathed—to be more permissible. Terrorists, in other words, cared more about outcomes.

“Our results are consistent with the view that the terrorist moral code actually approves of any action insofar as it contributes to achieving a given aim,” Agustín Ibáñez and Adolfo García, both from Favaloro University in Argentina, write in an email exchange. However, they caution that this study does not show that identifying this unusual moral judgment in individuals might predict who will join terrorist organizations, or which terrorists might be more likely to relapse upon release from prison. For one thing, we don’t know which comes first—atypical moral reasoning or participation in terrorism.

“Terrorism and radicalization are … molded by group dynamics, biological predispositions, cultural constraints, and socio-psychological factors,” Ibáñez and García write. “It may even be the case that this abnormal form of moral cognition is the result of participating in terrorist practices.”

Unfortunately, that abnormality may have reared its head on Monday.


C-130 Crew Gets a Rude Shock When They Fly Their Plane Below Sea Level

C-130 Crew Gets a Rude Shock When They Fly Their Plane Below Sea Level

Modern planes have electronics designed to make navigation easier and more accurate. Aircrews know their location within just a few meters and they can plot complicated flight patterns with ease. But what happens when the fancy electronics aren’t prepared for your real-life location?

One C-130 flight crew found out about this firsthand while landing at the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake sitting astride Israel and Jordan. The Dead Sea is the lowest place on Earth and its airfield, Bar Yehuda, lies -1,210 feet below sea level. Here’s a video of an airplane at Ben Yehuda:

According to one C-130 crewman writing at Avgeekery, trouble started once his plane landed at Bar Yahuda. The aircraft’s navigation system became unresponsive and the constellation of GPS satellites above them mysteriously winked out of existence. As it turned out, the plane’s navigation electronics were not designed to operate at altitudes less than 400 feet below mean sea level. In a sense, the plane thought it was underwater.

The crew had to prep for takeoff the old fashioned way, without computers to aid them. While the situation wasn’t dangerous, it was a rude surprise and led to future warnings that the aircraft could not operate at less than 400 feet below mean sea level.

Flying below sea level is obviously a pretty rare occurrence for a plane in good working order, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that the navigation systems stopped working. The lowest airfield in North America, for the record, is Furnace Creek Airport, Death Valley at minus 210 feet below sea level.


Every Kid Deserves a DIY Hovercraft

Every Kid Deserves a DIY Hovercraft

What did you wish for when you were a kid? We have to admit that we weren’t quite adventurous enough to ask for a homemade hovercraft, but then again most people don’t have a dad like Paul Boswell, who inclined to build one.

If it looks extremely fun, and shockingly, pretty safe, that is because it is. And plans aren’t that hard to come by,as you may have read in magazines like Popular Mechanics. It’s pretty certain that no one has ever been happier than this kid cruising around on his new toy. That is if he’s not playing with the mechanical computer his dad also made.


Intel’s Core i9 Extreme Edition CPU is an 18-core beast

Intel’s Core i9 Extreme Edition CPU is an 18-core beast

Last year at Computex, Intel unveiled its first 10-core consumer CPU, the company’s move into the world of a “megatasking.” It was a pricey chip, launching at around $1,700, but it satisfied users who needed to juggle several intensive tasks at once. Now, Intel is upping the ante with a new family of processors for enthusiasts, the Core X-series, and it’s anchored by the company’s first 18-core CPU, the i9-7980XE.

Priced at $1,999, the 7980XE is clearly not a chip you’ll see in an average desktop. Instead, it’s more of a statement from Intel. It beats out AMD’s 16-core Threadripper CPU, which was slated to be that company’s most powerful consumer processor for 2017. And it gives Intel yet another way to satisfy the demands of power-hungry users who might want to do things like play games in 4K while broadcasting them in HD over Twitch. And, as if its massive core count wasn’t enough, the i9-7980XE is also the first Intel consumer chip that packs in over a teraflop’s worth of computing power.

If 18 cores is a bit too rich for you, Intel also has other Core i9 Extreme Edition chips in 10-, 12-, 14- and 16-core variants. Perhaps the best news for hardware geeks: The 10 core i9-7900X will retail for $999, a significant discount from last year’s version.

All of the i9 chips feature base clock speeds of 3.3GHz, reaching up to 4.3GHz dual-core speeds with Turbo Boost 2.0 and 4.5GHz with Turbo Boost 3.0. And speaking of Turbo Boost 3.0, its performance has also been improved in the new Extreme Edition chips to increase both single and dual-core speeds. Rounding out the X-Series family are the quad-core i5-7640X and i7 models in 4-, 6- and 8-core models.

While it might all seem like overkill, Intel says its Core i9 lineup was driven by the surprising demand for last year’s 10-core chip. “Broadwell-E was kind of an experiment,” an Intel spokesperson told Engadget. “It sold … proving that our enthusiast community will go after the best of the best… Yes, we’re adding higher core count, but we’re also introducing lower core counts. Scalability on both ends are what we went after.”

As you can imagine, stuffing more cores into a processor leads to some significant heat issues. For that reason, Intel developed its own liquid cooling solution, which will work across these new chips, as well as some previous generations. All of the new Core i9 processors, along with the 6- and 8-core i7 chips, feature scorching hot 140W thermal design points (TDPs), the maximum amount of power that they’ll draw. That’s the same as last year’s 10-core CPU, but it’s still well above the 91W TDP from Intel’s more affordable i7-7700K.

Over the past few years, Intel’s laptop chips have been far more interesting than its desktop CPUs. Partially, that’s because the rise of ultraportables and convertible laptops have shifted its focus away from delivering as much computing power as possible, to offering a reasonable amount of processing power efficiently. The new Core i9 X-series processors might not be feasible for most consumers, but for the hardware geeks who treat their rigs like hot rods, they’re a dream come true.


How to Get Your Body Ready for Summer – The New Yorker

How to Get Your Body Ready for Summer – The New Yorker

Sunshine, swimsuits, and bare legs—oh my! The warm months are finally upon us. And that means one thing: you gotta get your bod in tip-top shape. Follow these six steps and prepare to flaunt your body confidently in front of your friends and family and maybe even the police, once they inevitably find out you’ve been hiding a body in your basement.

Keep Cool

Sure, storing your body in a trash bag is fine during the winter, when temperatures run cool, but that won’t fly during heat waves. It’s time to step up your routine! Invest in a stand-alone freezer. It’ll run you about two hundred bucks, but can you really put a price on saving your literally hot bod from decay? Plus, recent studies have shown that extremely cold temperatures can accelerate weight loss. If your body could talk, it would say thank you. But it can’t. Not anymore.

Exfoliate, Exfoliate, Exfoliate

Winter build-up is the worst. Dust, cobwebs, rat droppings—there’s no telling what’s been clogging up your body’s pores. Follow this easy recipe to get that skin glowing again. Mix two egg yolks with four tablespoons baking soda and two tablespoons rat poison. Spread all over your body and let sit for five minutes. Gently pat off with a washcloth. Repeat two more times. According to some eastern cultures, performing a ritual three times can bring you closer to God. This probably will not be the case for you, though.

Coconut Oil and Then More Coconut Oil

If you remember one rule this summer, let it be this: always be moisturizing. Actually, if you truly can remember only one rule, make it “Thou shalt not kill (from now on).” But moisturizing is really important, too!

Take a Moment to Appreciate What You Have

So your body’s not perfect—its eyes are bulging, and one of its legs has turned a weird shade of purple. But here’s the thing: no one’s body is perfect. Instead of focussing on your body’s flaws, why not celebrate all that it does for you? Like how it stays super quiet when you’re watching “This Is Us.” Or how its presence wracks you with guilt, which is a natural appetite suppressant.

It’s All About Mental Endurance

Sure, there will be days when it’s hard to get out of bed, when you’ll just lie there and think, Oh my God, what have I done? This is where compartmentalization—a super-awesome mental-health technique in which you consciously tuck your desperation and insanity away, into a special locked-off area of your brain—comes in handy. Remember, it’s your head, and you get to decide what’s real and what’s not. Who says that census-taker ever even existed in the first place? It’s mind over body—literally!


Jared Kushner’s Letter Home from Camp – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

Jared Kushner’s Letter Home from Camp – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

Dear Mom, Dad, and the siblings who didn’t go to the women’s march,

White House Camp has been really fun so far. I got to go to Iraq (very hot!) and I even have the prettiest camp girlfriend, Ivanka T. Her dad is the boss and I get to give him a lot of advice. If you’ve heard of anything good that he’s done, it was because I suggested it!

The real bummer is that everyone is really mad at me now because I was trying to make friends with another camp, Camp-romot. I tried to set up some activities with myself and the Russian camp and now everyone is really steamed! I don’t get it — it’s not like I shared our Capture the Flag spots or Confederate History Treasure Hunt information or anything! Just a few national secrets!!! Can’t a guy try to make a few friends around here?

In arts and crafts I filled out a security form called an SF-86. I think I did a really good job — my Counselor Donald said I used good colors — but other counselors are saying that I “failed to disclose meetings with Russian operatives.” Whatever, I have a clay pinch pot in the kiln that will show them. A kiln is an oven for pottery and a place that Junior Counselor Bannon said he’d stick my head in if I messed things up for everyone. I like his jokes, even if I don’t get all of them.

I also got to be a jail guard in Capture the Flag. That’s the person that doesn’t let the other team save their teammates. The weird thing is that now I might have to spend five years in jail for my bad SF-86. Boy, do they take arts and crafts seriously here.

The boys’ cabin played a fun prank on the girls’ cabin. We took all of their pads and tampons and made them pay us to get them back. And we defunded Planned Parenthood. AND we have a pretty cool secret handshake. I’d show you, but it’s a secret, and people are, again, getting pretty mad that I’m bad at secrets. (I’ll show you when I come home).

It’s hard to get privacy around here. I’m surrounded by a bunch of older boys, which is pretty cool but it means that they’re always up in my biz. They’re mad because I didn’t tell anyone about phone calls to Kislyak (a guy from Camp-romot) but it’s like, stay outta my beeswax, guys!

I miss you a lot and can’t wait until you pick me up (soon right?). My swim test is tomorrow and I’m kinda nervous. Wish me везение (luck)!

— Jared “Shallow Throat” Kushner


A Life-Changing Letter to Pollyanna – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

A Life-Changing Letter to Pollyanna – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

Dear Pollyanna,

We are pleased to inform you that the result of your recent test is negative. This means you are free to be negative.

You don’t have to be glad anymore, even if others are counting on you to be.

You don’t have to hope for the best anymore. Go ahead and expect disappointment. Try it out. See how it feels. Anticipate the worst-case scenario. When the worst happens, see how good it feels to be right about it all along. You knew before anyone else that things were going to go horribly wrong.

You no longer have to make the most of anything. Waste time if it suits you. Waste bread. Waste milk. Waste eggs. You don’t have to make the most of a bad situation. Just let it be bad, like it’s meant to be.

You don’t have to do your best. In fact, go ahead and do your worst, or don’t do anything at all.

You don’t have to put your best foot forward. If you wish to, you can now put your worst high-buttoned boot forward. We recommend that you start by telling people to go fuck themselves.

You are no longer obligated to tell others, “Have a nice day.” Nor are you obliged to send holiday cards that say things like, “Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!” Anyway, that’s way too much pressure on people who receive these kinds of cards. Almost as bad as cards that say, “Get well soon!” How are they supposed to speed their recovery just for you?

Feel free to cut people off in traffic and also to drive through crosswalks where school children haven’t quite reached the opposite curb.

On seeing a picture of a newborn baby you’re now at liberty to say, “That kid’s kinda red and squashed looking. What the hell happened?” On hearing they’ve named the baby, “Ignatius Facebook-Star Fire-Skater,” don’t say, “Cool! Such an awesome name! Sounds Native-American. He totally looks like a Fire-Skater,” when really you want to ask, “What kind of a bullshit name is that?” Just go ahead and ask this.

No more do you have to lie awake all night worrying because you are three to five days late on a thank you note. F thank you notes.

Keep everything you’ve borrowed and ask people why they haven’t returned your shit yet.

Let your friend buy the first round. Then let them buy the second. After you’re good and drunk, suggest that you both order a third. Throw that third drink down your throat and also down the front of your blouse so half is wasted. Then, run like hell.

If you have any questions about your test results, question everything. Thank you for choosing Courtesy Abatement Labs for all of your testing needs.

Courtesy Abatement Labs