Updates: A New Study and Obama's Faith Council

nursing der own doom.A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Sheeple: Studies About Social Conformity. I focused on 3 studies that show how people are easily influenced and manipulated, mostly by the authority figures in their lives. The other day a new study was published that added to this and I wanted to share it with you.

Financial Advice Causes "Off-loading" In The Brain shows that expert advice may shut down areas of the brain responsible for decision making processes, particularly when individuals are trying to evaluate a situation where risk is involved. This study focused on financial advice given by an "expert" to participants in an fMRI machine who were told to make a decision on how to spend money. I have a feeling that this is also the case in other areas of decision making as well. Hopefully it will be investigated and tested.

It makes sense though, when you look at how easily people are led by those in positions of authority. If someone is an "expert" this study shows that the brain offloads the decision making process. It trusts the expert and gives up responsibility for that choice.
"This study indicates that the brain relinquishes responsibility when a trusted authority provides expertise, says Berns, the study's lead researcher. "The problem with this tendency is that it can work to a person's detriment if the trusted source turns out to be incompetent or corrupt."

Now, think about how people make choices and decisions, or give up responsibility for those decisions in religious and political areas. It's easy to view someone as an expert (whether they are or not), and give them your decision making power.

So I just wanted to add that bit of information for you, because it seems like it's good to know. I don't know how it can help you, but knowledge is power.

Now, onto Obama's Faith Council. This is quite bothersome. I get notices from Americans United for different things, and they sent me one the other day about the appointment of Tony Dungy to Obama's Faith Council. Dungy, who used to be a head football coach for the Indianapolis Colts, hasn't accepted yet. So why does this raise red flags?
Dungy has well-known ties with intolerant Religious Right groups. In 2007, for example, he spoke at a fund-raising dinner for the Indiana Family Institute, a James Dobson-affiliated group that opposes gay rights, reproductive rights and separation of church and state.
"I feel like telling people when they look at this issue of same-sex marriage . . . I'm not on anybody's side," Dungy said. "I'm on the Lord's side."
"We're not trying to downgrade anyone else," Dungy added. "But we're trying to promote the family — family values the Lord's way."
Rev. Barry Lynn, Americans United’s executive director,  said it is important that the advisory council not advocate views such as Dungy’s that undercut church-state separation.

First, why do we need a Faith Council to begin with? How does that go in line with the separation of church and state? Second, it sets a bad precedent that the head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is a pentecostal, and now Dungy has been asked to join in with his biblical view of the world. (I talked about the OFBNP the other day and left links there, near the end of the article for you.) Am I the only person who finds this incredibly disturbing?

We need to pay attention and take action NOW before this gets out of hand. This is all very quiet and subtle, not affecting our lives now, but that doesn't mean we can relax. Obama is slowly revealing his true views on faith and how it should be implemented in America.

Americans United makes it easy to take action. They have a whole page of how to contact the White House and let them know that we aren't happy about this. They also give information on what the issues are, to help you to be informed.

Here is the contact information for the White House:

- Through the White House comment site: whitehouse.gov/contact

- By phone:
the comments line is 202-456-1111
the switchboard is 202-456-1414
the FAX number is 202-456-2461

- By mail:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Go to Americans United for more information.

Personally, I think that regulating any faith based programs is not good enough. I think they need to be withdrawn completely. Our tax dollars are going to these programs. That just seems like a huge violation of the separation of church and state. But if we are going to keep them, they need to be regulated so that churches and faith based programs can't discriminate or proseletyze. We all have to do our part and stand up and have our voice heard.

Ok, I'm done, I'll get off my high horse now. :P Have a great day, folks!


  1. I'm with you, Neece. There really is no valid point for them to exist in the first place. When you add the appointments of people who have already shown their intolerant, bigoted stripes, it makes it even more infuriating.

  2. Infuriating is a good word for it. I keep reminding myself that it would have been sooooooooo much worse if the vote had gone the other way, but this is so frustrating and disturbing.