A solid review of this study everybody seems to be talking about.
I believe I’ve received more emails from readers about this study than about anything else in the last six years. Several dozen readers have directed me to a paper by Jean Decinty et al. (Decinty is at my university) just published online in Current Biology (reference below; free download).
I think one reason it’s been called to my attention so often is that the authors claim to show something counterintuitive: that children from nonbelieving homes are actually more altruistic than children from religious homes (mostly Christian and Muslim). That goes against the common belief—one often touted by religionists—that religion makes you more altruistic. But because the study plays into what we atheists would like to think, it behooves us to look at it especially carefully. The study has also received lots of press, much of it uncritical.
After having read the paper four times, I think the authors do show that, in a specific laboratory…
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