CogSci of religion
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The Cognitive Science of Religion (with Justin L. Barrett) {vimeo}

May 4th, 2011 | Georgetown University…...

 

Cognitive byproduct

The view that religious beliefs and practices should be understood as nonfunctional but as produced by human cognitive mechanisms that are functional outside of the context of religion. Examples of this are the hyperactive agent detection device and minimally counterintuitive concepts. The cognitive byproduct explanation of religion is an application of the concept of exaptation explored by Stephen Jay Gould among others.

[edit]Minimally Counterintuitive Concepts

Concepts that mostly fit human preconceptions but break with them in one or two striking ways. These concepts are both easy to remember (thanks to the counterintuitive elements) and easy to use (thanks to largely agreeing with what people expect). Examples include talking trees and noncorporeal agents. Pascal Boyer argues that many religious entities fit into this category.

[edit]Hyperactive Agency Detection Device

Postulated mental mechanism whose function is to identify the activity of agents. Given the relative costs of failing to spot an agent, the mechanism is said to be hyperactive, producing a large number of false positive errors. Stewart Guthrie and others have claimed these errors can explain the appearance of supernatural concepts.

[edit]Prosocial adaptation

According to the prosocial adaptation account of religion, religious beliefs and practices should be understood as having the function of eliciting adaptive prosocial behaviour and avoiding the freeloader problem. Within the cognitive science of religion this approach is primarily pursued by Richard Sosis. David Sloan Wilson is another major proponent of this approach and interprets religion as a group-level adaptation, but his work is generally seen as falling outside the cognitive science of religion.

[edit]Costly signaling

Practices that, due to their inherent cost, can be relied upon to provide an honest signal regarding the intentions of the agent. Richard Sosis has suggested that religious practices can be explained as costly signals of the willingness to cooperate. A similar line of argument has been pursued by Lyle Steadman and Craig Palmer.

[edit]Dual inheritance

In the context of cognitive science of religion, dual inheritance theory can be understood as attempting to combine the cognitive byproduct and prosocial adaptation accounts using the theoretical approach developed by Robert Boyd and Peter Richerson, among others. The basic view is that while belief in supernatural entities is a cognitive byproduct, cultural traditions have recruited such beliefs to motivate prosocial behaviour. A sophisticated statement of this approach can be found in Scott Atran and Joseph Henrich (2010) "The Evolution of Religion: How Cognitive By-Products, Adaptive Learning Heuristics, Ritual Displays, and Group Competition Generate Deep Commitments to Prosocial Religions"

 

 


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The Cognitive Science of Religion (with Justin L. Barrett) {vimeo}

May 4th, 2011 | Georgetown University…...

 

Cognitive byproduct

The view that religious beliefs and practices should be understood as nonfunctional but as produced by human cognitive mechanisms that are functional outside of the context of religion. Examples of this are the hyperactive agent detection device and minimally counterintuitive concepts. The cognitive byproduct explanation of religion is an application of the concept of exaptation explored by Stephen Jay Gould among others.

[edit]Minimally Counterintuitive Concepts

Concepts that mostly fit human preconceptions but break with them in one or two striking ways. These concepts are both easy to remember (thanks to the counterintuitive elements) and easy to use (thanks to largely agreeing with what people expect). Examples include talking trees and noncorporeal agents. Pascal Boyer argues that many religious entities fit into this category.

[edit]Hyperactive Agency Detection Device

Postulated mental mechanism whose function is to identify the activity of agents. Given the relative costs of failing to spot an agent, the mechanism is said to be hyperactive, producing a large number of false positive errors. Stewart Guthrie and others have claimed these errors can explain the appearance of supernatural concepts.

[edit]Prosocial adaptation

According to the prosocial adaptation account of religion, religious beliefs and practices should be understood as having the function of eliciting adaptive prosocial behaviour and avoiding the freeloader problem. Within the cognitive science of religion this approach is primarily pursued by Richard Sosis. David Sloan Wilson is another major proponent of this approach and interprets religion as a group-level adaptation, but his work is generally seen as falling outside the cognitive science of religion.

[edit]Costly signaling

Practices that, due to their inherent cost, can be relied upon to provide an honest signal regarding the intentions of the agent. Richard Sosis has suggested that religious practices can be explained as costly signals of the willingness to cooperate. A similar line of argument has been pursued by Lyle Steadman and Craig Palmer.

[edit]Dual inheritance

In the context of cognitive science of religion, dual inheritance theory can be understood as attempting to combine the cognitive byproduct and prosocial adaptation accounts using the theoretical approach developed by Robert Boyd and Peter Richerson, among others. The basic view is that while belief in supernatural entities is a cognitive byproduct, cultural traditions have recruited such beliefs to motivate prosocial behaviour. A sophisticated statement of this approach can be found in Scott Atran and Joseph Henrich (2010) "The Evolution of Religion: How Cognitive By-Products, Adaptive Learning Heuristics, Ritual Displays, and Group Competition Generate Deep Commitments to Prosocial Religions"

 

 


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Videos - Conference : Culture, Communication & Cognition - INSTITUT JEAN NICOD

Videos - Conference : Culture, Communication & Cognition - INSTITUT JEAN NICOD | CogSci of religion | Scoop.it
Conference in honour of Dan Sperber on 12-15 Dec., 2012, with the participation of leading figures in the areas relevant to Sperber's work : (...)

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Conference in honour of Dan Sperber - INSTITUT JEAN NICOD

Conference in honour of Dan Sperber - INSTITUT JEAN NICOD | CogSci of religion | Scoop.it

Institut Jean Nicod will organise a conference in honour of Dan Sperber on 12-15 Dec., 2012, with the participation of leading figures in the areas relevant to Sperber’s work: philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and linguistics.


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New blog on cognitive science of religion

New blog on cognitive science of religion | CogSci of religion | Scoop.it
Robert McCauley, who is the President of the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion and one of the central figures in cognitive science of religion has begun writing a blog...

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A new "Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion"

A new "Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion" | CogSci of religion | Scoop.it

The new "Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion" is the official journal of the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion (founded in 2006).

Blurb: "The cognitive science of religion is a burgeoning field that finds itself in the center of cross-disciplinary research. Cognition is understood in a variety of ways from bottom-up to top-down models and theories. New insights into cognition, culture and religion are being discovered, new ways of doing research are being established and new methodologies and technologies are being used in the cognitive science of religion. The number of scholars and scientists working in this exciting field are expanding exponentially, and the journal provides a cutting-edge publication channel for this field."

Editors: Pascal Boyer, University of Washington in St. Louis; Armin W. Geertz, Aarhus University; Luther H. Martin, University of Vermont.

Managing Editors: Ryan McKay, Oxford University; Dimitris Xygalatas, Aarhus University


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On Memetics: Dan Sperber: Attraction and Selection in Cultural Evolution

On Memetics: Dan Sperber: Attraction and Selection in Cultural Evolution | CogSci of religion | Scoop.it
Dan Sperber: Attraction and Selection in Cultural Evolution - http://t.co/6FpD93Ju19

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