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Atheists, Agnostics, Spirituals, and Christians: Assessing Confirmation Bias within a Measure of Cognitive Ability

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores how ideological presuppositions potentially confound attempts to correlate religious beliefs to cognitive assessments. By altering the ideological implications in a particular assessment of cognitive abilities, the author assessed if religious beliefs could affect the outcome of that assessment. Confirmation bias may enable individuals with certain religious beliefs to score higher because their bias comports with the ideological implications of the test statements. Such a finding suggests that examination of previous cognitive tests for possible ideological bias needs to be considered. Agnostics and spiritual but not religious individuals were also included to assess individuals with differing levels of commitment to ideologies of atheism and Christianity. Atheists fail to accurately answer questions challenging their presuppositions followed in accuracy by agnostics, spirituals but not religious, and Christians. Altemeyer's examination provides the easiest test for a preliminary assessment due to its short length and potential epistemological biases.

Keywords: agnostics; Altemeyer's examination; Christianity; cognitive ability; confirmation bias; religious beliefs

10.1163/9789004272385_003
/content/books/b9789004272385s003
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