[extropy-chat] The Bible Belt Paradox

Anders Sandberg asa at nada.kth.se
Tue Jan 16 11:54:06 UTC 2007

This morning's micro-paper:

I did a quick check in the General Social Survey
(http://webapp.icpsr.umich.edu/GSS/), cross-tabulating the question about
whether the respondent had ever been arrested and the question about their
self-stated fundamentalist rating.

The answer was messy. Fundamentalists were more likely to have been
arrested than expected by sheer chanse, although the z-score was pretty
low, 0.62. There was a clear anti-correlation between moderate
fundamentalism (whatever that is) and arrest, z=-3.25 and a clear
correlation between being liberal in religious matter and having been
arrested, z=3.36. They were also more likely to have traffic tickets.

Looking at the CIDEKNEW variable, how many people known to the respondent
who were victims of homicide last year a rather chilling pattern emerged.
Among fundamentalists far more knew 1-4 victims than would be expected by
chance, while moderates and liberals did not have the same pattern. I have
not done any anti-confounder modifications here, so some might be due to
SES. I find more fundamentalists in lower and working class, and more
liberals in the middle and upper class (the same when using self-stated
social rank).

There were a clear pattern in thinking that one should obey the law with
no exception rather than follow one's conscience, with fundamentalists
strongly for law while the most liberal tending to approve of conscience.
On the other hand, fundamentalists disapprove of wiretapping more strongly
than non-fundamentalists (although on average, everybody in the study

My picture is that fundamentalism is basically conservatism in the
religious field, and given the findings that mortality salience can make
you more conservative, maybe the cause of the religiousness is simply that
these are violent areas (or parts of society)? People with more secure
lives do not need the comfort of conservative thinking and cleaving to old
values, so they become more liberal.

Anders Sandberg,
Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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