Movie Friday: Imaginary Friends

A while back I wondered aloud at the complete lack of self-awareness and sense of irony demonstrated by religious people – consistently using arguments that refute their own position, all the while blissfully unaware of their hypocrisy. It’s funny, but oftentimes utterly depressing – sometimes these cognitive dissonances are so slippery that logic just slides right off.

For a great example of this, let’s talk to Fr. Jonathan Morris of Fox News:

Now I know you caught the punchline at the end, but let’s back up a bit first.

First, a “study” says that people who pray do better than those who don’t, and a completely reasonable mechanism is proposed. The hypothesized mechanism seems to be supported by the fact that it doesn’t matter who or what you pray to, the effect size is similar. This is exactly what you’d expect to see if the effect came from the human mind rather than from a supernatural source.

And then Fr. Morris gets his hands on it and says “If God really does exist, there’s going to be feedback.” So is there feedback, Fr. Morris? “Well of course these studies aren’t going to show that.” Why wouldn’t they show that? People who pray to the proper god will have better outcomes than people who pray to a heathen god, or who pray to a stick (which, of course, they don’t).

And then there’s the delicious bit of irony at the very end, where Fr. Morris rightly identifies belief in an imaginary friend as a product of a diseased mind. It is here (and only here) that I think he and I might find some common ground.

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