Daily Archives: September 16, 2010

For thousands of years now, people from different religious persuasions have been at each other’s metaphorical and literal throats. With the 9th anniversary of the 911 tragedy, religious nut-jobs have taken the opportunity to take up their old habits. The latest manifestation of this age-old tradition seems to be playing out . Apparently, “God” told some crazy reverend, Terry Jones, to burn the Qur’an and then, at the last minute, not to. I don’t get. I also don’t understand it. Nor do I understand the Muslim backlash: burning American flags, threatening Jihad, etc. I do believe, however that anyone has the right to commit these acts in addition to burning or pissing on any religious or science book that they please, which is in contrast to what Sadaf Syed wrote (see link below), who suggest that such acts are against American Values. I disagree. I believe being American gives us the license to be as offensive as we can get away with, as long we are willing to accept the consequences.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I don’t care if religious people piss each other off, I just don’t want them burdening the rest of us with their bullshit. Whose of us who have reached the age of reason should not have to  suffer from their need to adhere to centuries old mythology. And lets be frank, the only difference between Greek, Christian and Muslim mythology is that Christian and Muslim mythology hasn’t been snuffed out by the next big mythological belief system. Personally, I’m hoping rationalism will take their place, but it probably won’t happen in my lifetime. But I digress….

I wonder, Should I really be all that surprised that religious people are pissing each other off? According to Preston, Ritter and Hernandez (2010) probably not.  It seems that religion, while having the potential for leading some people towards prosocial behavior; it also leads others to more antisocial ends.  It seem that the antisocial behavior stems from a need to protect their group. In other words, if they perceive threats to their beliefs they lash out. So maybe that means rationalism is on the rise…I can only hope….

Preston, Ritter and Hernandez (2010)

“Qur’an Burning Goes Against American Values” by Sadaf Syed

Super(ordinate) identities to the rescue!


By Erica Zaiser

For over a month now, 33 Chilean miners have been trapped 2,300 feet underground. Just recently a team of American miners went down to Chile to help the miners get out. This rescue mission is very complicated and may take months to complete. It would have been easy for the American mining team to have felt it was not their responsibility to help; freeing the miners will be a difficult, time consuming, and expensive task. However, the American team seems eager to assist. One reason they might be so willing to help the Chileans is because they identify in these circumstances not as Americans but as miners. Thus, their identities as miners acts as a a superordinate identity linking the American men and the the trapped Chileans together regardless of their different nationalities.

Plenty of research in psychology has shown that when you identify with a superordinate social identity prejudice is reduced and that superordinate identity salience can reduce conflict between groups. In the case of the miners, this feeling of a larger group membership (being a miner) may have helped inspire the helping behaviour of the American miners. In an interview with CNN, one of the American miners explained why it was no question that he and his team wanted to help the trapped Chileans, saying, “We have the ability to help them out, and that’s the whole reason we are here. Miners are miners; it doesn’t matter what country they are from.”