I will begin this post by giving an apology to those that have grown weary or tired of the discussion at hand. While my behavior has not been up to the standards others would desire, I do not believe my points are any less important or valid. There have been accusations that I have a vendetta against the “hypothesis” poised by Salamander. This statement is untrue because I have no issue with cognitive dissonance, nor would I have an issue with a study that provided data to support the application of cognitive dissonance to the religious. Where I take issue is in making a statement under the guise of science that has no basis in actual scientific data. To say that a person of religious faith must place themselves into willful ignorance of their religion in order to properly function is a bold statement, even more bold without any evidence to back up this assertion.
Now I will hope to garner the reader’s attention once more in order to show that this is no evidence from this survey to uphold the use of cognitive dissonance. Salamander was kind and diligent enough to setup a model to prove his point. I would be remiss not to address and review the model. Now the background statement discusses the survey data as the basis for this belief, in particular the lack of knowledge by Christians about their own religion. This phenomenon that is described and illustrated by the survey does not actually exist. Allow me to quote the article presented by the original poster, “On questions about Christianity, Mormons scored the highest, with an average of about eight correct answers out of 12, followed by white evangelicals, with an average of just over seven correct answers.” Therefore, on questions determined by the survey creators to be focused on Christianity, two Christian denominations scored the highest. Also note that the survey in question did not only ask questions related to the Bible and the article did not give indication about anyone’s knowledge of the Bible.
The second portion of the background maintains that a person belonging to a Christian religion will avoid Biblical knowledge in order to reduce dissonance in their lives. Once more the survey contradicts this statement. Allow me once more to quote from the article, “Not surprisingly, those who said they attended worship at least once a week and considered religion important in their lives often performed better on the overall survey.” Salamander has asserted that this variable is extraneous, but I feel confident in reintroducing this variable since this is the independent variable utilized in the design of his experiment. In the design Salamander does state a desire to separate the variables of church attendance and importance, but I feel safe in stating that the majority of people that mark religion as important in their lives will also mark a high attendance of weekly mass. More than likely there is a positive correlation between the two.
The design portion is a comparison between two groups. One that identifies itself as Christian with low importance for religion and one that identifies itself as Christians with high importance for religion. All other variables being equal, a test is given to both groups with the scores being compared. Once more though this is a correlation study where two variables are being compared to one another. Those variables being importance of religion and Biblical knowledge. In order to determine the cause for a lack of Biblical knowledge a causative experiment would have to be carried out. Such an experiment may look similar to this.
Begin with a random sampling and introduce a lesson on several Biblical passages, including those believed to invoke dissonance. Before playing the video check the heart rate of participants and also give them a questionnaire to determine religious affiliation and importance of religion in their lives. Monitor heart rate during the lesson and then perform an exit questionnaire to inspect their knowledge of the material afterward, paying particular attention to the question believed to cause dissonance. This is the control group. Using this group will help evaluate the effectiveness of the lesson, the standard heart rate different during the lesson and the subsequent scores following the lesson.
Next focus on the independent variable of high religious affiliation and importance. Repeat the study on this target group. The hypothesis that lead to this experiment may look something like this. A Christian stating a high importance of religion in their daily life will experience greater stress during portion of a Bible lesson containing portions thought to cause dissonance and subsequently will score lower on a questions regarding these portions.
Granted the experiment is flawed and the hypothesis not exact, but the pair were concocted in about five minutes. Specifics aside the model is sound since to prove cognitive dissonance is the reason for a lack of knowledge, that dissonance has to be introduced through an experiment. The passages have to be determined to cause dissonance in the person, displayed as stress, and then the subject has to show an inability to recall the events or rationalize them. Notice though that the hypothesis that would lead to this experiment, a causative one that is, does not involve the survey.
This is because Salamander did not state a hypothesis, but rather an inference. He inferred a claim from the survey. The inference is shown to be incorrect I believe for the previously stated reasons. Salamander has also said that his “hypothesis,” now shown to be an inference hopefully, is not tested. Continuing to use this inference or “hypothesis” is making a broad, general claim about a group of people with no basis in fact. He is stereotyping at this point by saying that Christians are ignorant of their own religion.
Thank you for your attention and I hope this adheres to a higher standard of behavior and argument.