Recommended Reading: Does religious-like "logic" guide our decision-making where we might not expect it?


I strongly recommend this insightful article. It deals with food-fads but brings to mind a great many popular controversies where even the non-religious fall into patterns of “religious dogma” thinking:

I particularly appreciated this pithy soundbite:

Nutritional evangelists, like their religious forebears, are heavy on pathos and ethos, but woefully lacking in logos.

Here the author identifies the nutritional narratives of paradise past (our ancestors had almost Edenic diets), complete with a Satan-like evil deceiver (drug companies) and a “gospel message” (the promised bliss and salvation of “natural” foods):

The phenomenon that Rozin describes isn’t unique to nutritional nonsense. Vaccine refusal (with its clear relationship to paleo and anti-GMO narratives of paradise past) depends on faith in what amounts to a religious ideology, complete with an evil deceiver—big pharma!—and the promise of salvation through avoiding unnatural chemicals. Unfortunately, research consistently shows the futility of combating ideologically motivated belief with facts and reasoned argument. No matter how well you make your evidence-based arguments, your vegetarian friend will continue to believe that avoiding meat cures cancer, and your gluten-free aunt will insist that eating bread causes Alzheimer’s.

Notice how almost primal notions of nutritional good and evil drives the “logic” of food-fad “neutri-evangelical” ideologues. [Nutritional-evangelism is my term, not the author’s—but such language follows so naturally from the articles’ observations.]

In my opinion the author provides excellent explanations for why we often find our evidence-driven arguments totally unsuccessful in deterring impassioned advocates who treat their ideological positions as if based upon religious dogma. And the logical fallacies and thinking patterns are so similar to those commonly found among so many origins-ministry activists.

I think Biologos readers will find the article worth their time. As an Ex-YEC who was a “creation science” evangelist of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the article revives my embarrassment and sobering awareness of personal culpability for significant harms to multiple generations of evangelicals and to American science education in general.


I just now saw this Texas “news story” (if it actually qualifies for the term "news) which seems to naturally fit the theme of this forum thread:

Many will recognize the “self proclaimed fossil expert.”

He called up self-proclaimed fossil expert Joe Taylor who confirmed that what Propst found is in fact from the time of Noah’s ark and he says finding those fossils in Tyler is rare.

Perhaps readers can answer a few of the most likely questions to arise from this story:

  1. How did this merit the local evening news on the Tyler, Texas TV station? In much of Texas, one can hardly avoid finding fossil marine life or fossil gastropods of some sort. (Not finding them in your yard, driveway, or nearby gravel parking lot would be the rarer event.)

  2. Seeing how Young Earth Creationists believe Noah’s Flood was global, don’t they expect to find fossils from that catastrophic event virtually everywhere on the planet, including Tyler?

  3. How do “Noah’s Flood fossils” differ from other fossils? (And how was alleged expert Joe Taylor able to confirm the finds as genuine “Noah’s Flood fossils” without visiting the site?)

  4. Is Joe Taylor implying that Noah’s Flood somehow didn’t reach Tyler, so he didn’t expect there to be such fossils there?

Normally I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the “journalist” who covered this news event left out some crucial aspect which made the story so newsworthy in the first place. (I’ve seen that happen a lot.) Indeed, when I was still teaching at a state university, I had many faculty colleagues who had a strict “no interviews with the press” policy after reporters refused to allow them to proofread interview transcripts for accuracy----and then finding them totally misrepresented in print with crucial words missing. (I was once horrendously misquoted in Biblical Archaeology Review due to the omission of a single word—and it led to some nasty letters from some Orthodox rabbis who accused me of blasphemy.)

Yet, in this case I can’t imagine what might have been left out—seeing how the reporter appeared to make no effort to corroborate what was nothing more than barely coherent hearsay. Did he/she ask why the people thought their finding common varieties of fossil gastropods in their yard was at all noteworthy?

I’m hoping that our Young Earth Creationist readers or the many ex-YECs frequenting these forums might be able to address my curiosity.


Many of you probably follow Skeptoid, but perhaps you haven’t seen this new project. Though not origins-related, it addresses the same conspiracy theory mindset we encounter so often:

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