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March 1, 2004
NBIC 2004 - Religious Comparative Advantage
Conference co-Chair, William Simms Bainbridge, gave a wonderful talk on religious comparative advantage and tracking emotions throughout one's life. Co-author of many books, including: The Future of Religion, Religion, Deviance and Social Control and A Theory of Religion, he made the following points:
- Ancient attempts to understand and control the mind were based on religious superstition rather than science. For example, ancient Egyptian technology wasted much energy trying to achieve immortality with mummification (there are more than 1 million mummies believed to be underground in Egypt). While Christianity has historically helped science and technology to advance, it is now may actually be blocking our progress to understand the mind. In this respect, he suggested that monotheistic religions (and the regions in which they dominate the socio-political landscape) may prove to be at a comparative disadvantage in the coming years.
- On emotions, he shared a device he uses to capture different emotions that he feels at across time. The device then does a factor analysis of these emotions and provides a "most like" list of previous experiences that contained similar emotional states. This is part of a project he calls the lifetime information preservation system. While relatively crude, he is absolutely on the right track of trying to understand the dynamic emotional changes that occur throughout one's life. While today we share photographs with our descendants, tomorrow we will be able to share our most intimate emotional experiences.
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