Sunday, October 07, 2012

I'd like to question that assumption

"....mentalizing deficits, associated with the autistic spectrum and also commonly found in men more than in women, may undermine this intuitive support and reduce belief in a personal God."

This is a quote from the abstract of a paper that was published in PLoS One in May of this year (link below). I found the assertion that mentalizing deficits are "commonly found in men more than in women" to be cause for thought for a couple of reasons - the grammar of that quote renders the meaning of that statement unclear, and the claim that is apparently being made seems quite remarkable and questionable to me. I tried in vain to find evidence in the body of the paper supporting the idea that men (not boys) are more likely to be found to have mentalizing deficits than women. Which studies have found this to be true? What kind of testing measured these deficits? I think it says something about the times that we live in that such an assertion can slip into a journal paper, without reference to some study to back it up.

Norenzayan A, Gervais WM, Trzesniewski KH (2012) Mentalizing Deficits Constrain Belief in a Personal God. PLoS ONE 7(5): e36880. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036880

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