Monday, February 27, 2012

Journal Entry #20 - 2/27/12

So I took the Myers Briggs test today. You know? It was really fun to take. But I don't think it really taught me anything. Mostly because the answers to the questions depend far to much on the specific situations that they apply to. I found myself split right down the middle several times. Take a look at my results:

Your Type is
ENFJ -- Extraverted Intuitive Feeling Judging

You are:
moderately expressed extravert
moderately expressed intuitive personality
moderately expressed feeling personality
moderately expressed judging personality

Wow. So I am really moderate, hehe :) To be honest though, I think the test is better at measuring those who are at the extremes. However, would I be wrong to say that many people take each situation in turn and measure their reactions according to what they believe would be most effective? Being extraverted has it's benefits, as does being thoughtful and alone. Being the center of attention or working with a large group of people can be just as important as taking a side-line role or working in a small group. To me, they're just apples and oranges. Some days I like apples better than oranges. Sometimes I like bananas better than either (because they're easier to eat :). Some situations call for a hammer while others call for tweezers. As a result, it's hard to generalize how I react to each situation because the reality is I react in the way that I believe is most likely to bring about the desired result, just like a mechanic uses the tools he believes will help him fix the car.

And speaking of using the correct tools, I'm back to thinking about my research project again. There are a lot of nuances of religion in the United Kingdom that could be studied. Today I found a fascinating article on the differences in attitudes toward suicide between students in religious education and students in secular education in Turkey. As it turns out, religious students are less likely to commit suicide, but they are also more accepting of individuals who do commit suicide. That seems almost backward, but nevertheless demonstrates that those in secular education are more likely to think negatively about the decision of other people to commit suicide than their religious counterparts. It is interesting to me how some secular groups advocate the need for equality between those who express secular views and those who express religious views in a way that could be interpreted as a lack of tolerance for religion. Could the group that seems to be constantly calling for tolerance actually be more intolerant?

For example, this is is from the website of the National Secular Society (in Britain):

Secularism seeks to defend the absolute freedom of religious and other belief, and protect the right to manifest religious belief insofar as it does not impinge disproportionately on the rights and freedoms of others. Secularism ensures that the right of individuals to freedom of religion is always balanced by the right to be free from religion.

These groups don't just want atheism to be accepted, they want to remove religion and religious symbols completely from the public sphere. While those with secular views are not condemned for advocating "freedom from religion", how quickly would they condemn organizations seeking "freedom from atheism"? And why is it that while research concludes again and again that religiosity is correlated with positive social indicators (including tolerance toward those who make choices completely against the values of the religion, as in the case of the religious students in Turkey toward close friends who commit suicide), speaking openly in support of religion in the public sphere receives so much criticism?

Interesting. But, moving on to the different tools I could use while I'm doing research in London, while I was talking to Dr. Christensen on Friday, I became rather convinced that a comparison study of elite attitudes about religion to the attitudes of the masses would make a very interesting addition to the debate going on the in country between those supporting the role of religion (David Cameron and Sayeeda Warsi in particular) and those who oppose it. If the opinions expressed by elites are indeed more secular than those of the general public, such would provide considerable justification for the policies of the current British government. On the other hand, if the general public agrees with elites, more secular policies are bound to gain support in the country.

This is a topic that is narrow, relevant, and possible to answer while I'm in London. It's an analytical question too, and I think that's best. It'll be tough work to come up with a good research design to test it, but I think it will work. My only worry is that, unlike the mechanic, this tool may not actually fix anything.

(error note: I said on an earlier post that Sayeeda Warsi was the first Muslim elected to Parliament. That's wrong on two counts. First of all, she was not elected because she is a peeress in the House of Lords. Second, she is the third Muslim elected to Parliament and the first female Muslim in Parliament. Sorry about the error there.)

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