Help Sam Harris’ research on religious faith at the level of the brain

Sam Harris, the author of New York Times best sellers The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, is asking for our help to further the first study of religious faith at the level of the brain. He has completed a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy at Stanford University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles, using functional magnetic resonance imaging to conduct research into the neural basis of belief, disbelief, and uncertainty. The latest (as of May 07, 2008 ) article on his website says:

“Research Volunteers Needed!

We are preparing to run another fMRI study of belief and disbelief, and we need volunteers to help us refine our experimental stimuli. This promises to be the first study of religious faith at the level of the brain. By responding to the four surveys I have posted online, you can make an enormous contribution to this work.

Please answer as many of the surveys as you can. If you only have time to answer one, please choose at random (otherwise, we will have many more responses to the first than to the others).

Feel free to post this message to your blog or to forward the relevant links to your friends. We especially need Christians to respond, as one of the goals of these surveys is to design stimuli that a majority of Christians will find doctrinally sound.

Please note: Each survey starts with the same first page of questions. “

The links to the surveys are shown below. Note that when taking any of the surveys, the following is given:

Thank you for participating in this survey. Your answers will help us design a neuroimaging experiment which will explore the difference between belief and disbelief at the level of the brain. For the purposes of our research, we ask that you take this survey ONLY IF you consider yourself to be:

1) a dedicated Christian

or

2) an atheist/nonbeliever.

This survey should take about 15 minutes to complete. At no point will you be asked to provide information that could be used to identify you in the future.

If you would like to be notified when the results of this research are published, please join the email list at http://www.samharris.org.

Again, thank you for your contribution to this work”

Which of course means that if you’re somewhat of an agnostic, you should probably skip the surveys. I took all 4 surveys within 10 minutes, as I’ve already taken several surveys relating to belief/disbelief such as my earlier post, and since I’m quite comfortable with my disbelief. Again as the website says, feel free to post the surveys in your blogs, or send them out to friends or mailing lists/groups.

Surveys by samharris.org:

Belief Survey A

Belief Survey B

Belief Survey C

Belief Survey D

For further reading and reference:

Sam Harris’ official website

Sam Harris’ Wikipedia page

Sam Harris’ page and links to his articles at www.machineslikeus.com, a great website on evolutionary thought, cognitive science, artificial life and artificial intelligence

New York Times review of Sam Harris’ book The End of Faith

New York Times best sellers which included Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

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