Toxic Theisms? New Strategies for Prebunking Religious Belief-Behaviour Complexes
Keywords:Religion, theism, prebunking, debunking, cognitive bias
This article offers a brief epidemiological analysis and description of some of the main cognitive (and coalitional) biases that can facilitate the emergence and enable the maintenance of a broad category of toxic traditions, which will be referred to here as “religious” belief-behaviour complexes (BBCs) or “theisms”. I argue that such BBCs played an “adaptive” role in the Upper Paleolithic and have continued to “work” throughout most of human history by enhancing the species’ capacity for material production and promoting its biological reproduction. However, today the theist credulity and conformity biases that surreptitiously shape these kinds of social assemblages have now become maladaptive in most contexts in the Anthropocene. In order to help address the pressing global challenges our species faces, such as extreme climate change, excessive consumer capitalism, and escalating cultural conflict, I commend the use of “prebunking” and other debiasing strategies in our attempts to reduce the toxicity of theisms in the body politic.
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