“Political Feelings” is a bi-monthly column by Patrick Blanchfield about stories, scenes and studies of religion in American culture. This month: A skeptics spectacle Continue Reading →
From Chris Mooney’s recent article at Mother Jones, “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science.”
A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger(PDF), in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial—the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes. But it was too early for that—this was the 1950s—and Festinger was actually describing a famous case study in psychology.
Festinger and several of his colleagues had infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens—including one, “Sananda,” who they believed was the astral incarnation of Jesus Christ. The group was led by Dorothy Martin, a Dianetics devotee who transcribed the interstellar messages through automatic writing.
Stephanie Simon of The Los Angeles Times profiles the non-prophet founder of a new, doubt-filled religion — Universism — Ford Vox (who also runs the online forum for the 8,000-member Continue Reading →