Curving Normality Blog Carnival #3

Once again, it is time for a new edition of the Curving Normality Blog Carnival. Last edition was a bit short, but I’m happy to see that people still have send in their posts, even while I didn’t put out a ‘call for blogs’. Nevertheless, today I present a new edition with interesting posts on morality, war, the afterlife, and religion!

Fëanor writes about OTTOWAR and EUROMOM. What, you’d say? It’s about a paper that investigated the impact of ethnicity on Ottoman military operations. The OTTOWAR and EUROMOM were the central variables in the analyses, in which EUROMOM stands for European maternal links of the sultan. Explaining two contrasting theories on Ottoman warfare, this paper tests this juxtapose by a fascinating application of statistics. i>”statistically at least, the sultan’s tie to Europe via his mother reduced his military ventures in Europe by more than 70%.” Seemingly, war is all about the mother.

Not strictly on social sciences, Stijn Ruiter discusses The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Especially the origin of (human) morality caught his interest. Dawkins quotes brain researcher Hauser, who “does statistical surveys and psychological experiments, using questionnaires on the Internet, for example, to investigate the moral sense of real people […] the way people respond to these moral tests, and their inability to articulate their reasons, seems largely independent of their religious beliefs or lack of them.” That’s interesting – isn’t it – doing statistical investigations to morality? The way people responded to the moral tests given, did not correlate with their religion or religious beliefs. Dawkins builds upon this finding, by arguing that people do not require the existence of a God to be or become good: if the human body can do it for itself, no external force is required.

This line of reasoning reminded me of a post I wrote a while ago, about a Dutch cardiologist Pim van Lommel who wrote a book about near death experiences. This book was based on findings he published a few years earlier in the Lancet. In that publication, the occurrence of near death experiences during cardiac arrest is cross-tabulated with several variables, such as used medication, but more interesting also with the patients’ religion. Since it was shown that these variables did not relate to the occurrence of near death experiences, the article rejects many existing theories about the experience of an afterlife. Very interesting, but in the book this finding is extended to argue that since the body cannot sustain consciousness during cardiac arrest, the consciousness apparently exists independent of the body. In that, the line of reasoning is quite the opposite of the from Dawkins: since the human body cannot do it, it must lie outside the human. In my contribution I argue that these findings are quite likely to be due to lack of measurement accuracy.

Finally, a warm welcome to a new participant of this blog carnival. Bram Hengeveld discusses (in Dutch) quite some literature from a behavioristic school of research, which he elegantly applies to his own discipline: geriatric nursing. The behavioristic study is basically a replication of the classic Milgram experiments (the one in which participants were stressed to obey authority to administer electrical shocks to others, despite their (seeming) objections). Bram applies the findings from these kind of studies to his nursing profession. Interestingly, he does not focus on the patients (which probably could initiate some more posts), but on the nurses themselves. Most people working in health care, according to Bram, are not satisfied by the conditions under which they work and how these dictate (read: restrict) the level of care they can provide. However, as the experiments showed, in certain circumstances people readily seem to accept their situation and ‘go along’.

That’s it for today’s edition. I hope you’ll enjoy the posts gathered here, and please keep the new posts coming! Next edition will be on March 3rd.

2 comment on “Curving Normality Blog Carnival #3

  • Rense, thank you very much for hosting my post on this carnival.
    I really am very pleased to see you got the message/questions out of the post I wanted people to see/ask themselves. Although I do not think most (as in almost everyone) of the people are displeased, there tends to be quite a lot of negativity in all kinds of forms. Whether it be from the nurses themselves, their patients and relatives or the ‘general public’, geriatric care isn’t really top notch when it comes to popularity… The post is mainly concerning the nursing POV, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to see that as unconnected to the views of other people/groups I mentioned.
    Having both read the God Delusion (I agree with Stijn on the Harris thing), and (most of) ‘Eindeloos Bewustzijn’ (I posted about that too a while ago:, I am going to enjoy myself with some Ottoman blogging tomorrow. Nice job.

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