Sunday, August 06, 2006

Mind & science   posted by Razib @ 8/06/2006 03:35:00 PM

Via Manish I found this peculiar article about a Muslim man who is the priest of a Hindu temple in Kashmir. The article implies that the man is a believing and pious Muslim, while simultaneously paying homage to Hindu religiosity through his services and work within a Hindu temple. I suspect anyone from a Muslim background will be perplexed, can such an individual truly be a believing and sincere Muslim and be a priest in a Hindu temple? A few years ago I would have offered a standard materialist explanation: the man has found a niche where he can generate a reasonable income where he would otherwise have been destitute (read the article). But today I am not so sure. Yes, I grant that material inducements are a likely a necessary condition, but, I would not deny that a man could be both a Hindu priest and a Muslim believer, and a sincere one in both capacities at that. Also, yesterday The New York Times Magazine came out with an article about HIV in South Africa. At one point the reporter notes that many women refuse free drugs during childbirth which would reduce the chance that their child would become HIV positive. The only individual who would know of the ingestion of the drug would be the nurse, who also holds the chart which indicates that the woman is HIV positive despite her denial. This sort of behavior beggars the imagination, but not really, we need to open our minds, and look at what's "going on in there."

Genetics and evolution are important disciplines necessary to comprehend human nature. But so is psychology. Unfortunately psychology is plagued by all sorts of quasi-sciences and fads, and its intuitive simplicity means that we are more likely to simply seek "science" which confirms our intuitions and feelings, as opposed to research which is more technically opaque and flies in the face of our preconceptions. Nevertheless, you have to start somewhere. Just as sociology needs genetics, so history and international relations needs psychology.