Richard Dawkins: The bodies of all life forms, from bacteria to plants to animals, are simply “survival machines” designed to make sure that they pass their genes on into the future.
Niccolò Machiavelli: The best way to ensure success is to be cunning, this includes lying and taking advantage of others, when need be.
Mary Baker Eddy: Instantaneous healing can take place due to prayer, mindstate or religious conviction.
Virginia Woolf: Honesty, thoughtfulness and morality are important social tools that reliably create positive outcomes.
Thomas Aquinas: In order to be happy one must be kind.
"In order to build on the current knowledge and our past findings we designed a questionnaire-based experiment to assess to what extent people will alter an existing belief based on the reported views of scientists or average Americans. This experiment will build on our previous research conceptually but will employ an empirical methodology with random assignment to groups and manipulation of variables. Our questionnaire will expose participants to one of four treatments. One half will be exposed to the beliefs of scientists on a variety of topics and the other will be exposed to the beliefs of average Americans. The experiment actually involves frank deception and we will mislead our participants into thinking that they are viewing averages taken from polls of either scientists or Americans on the beliefs in question. One half of the group exposed to the supposed belief of scientists will see ratings extremely cynical/deterministic ratings and the other half will see the opposite, naive/humanistic ratings. We hypothesize that participants will change their certainty strength to be in line with the stances taken by scientists but not with the stances taken by average Americans. We expect that this difference will persist even when the belief strengths for scientists and Americans are reversed (meaning that people will tend to agree with scientists no matter what the stance on the position is).
The second part of the experiment will focus on three of the previous beliefs and manipulate the evidence for and against each belief to see if the weight of evidence has a bearing on certainty strength. Participants will be asked to read short essays that either support or repudiated the belief. Participants will actually be split each of three ways, for a total of 3 treatment groups. The three variations will be groups where people are exposed to 1) convincing evidence in support of the belief, 2) convincing evidence that contradicts the belief and 3) a balance of supporting and contradicting evidence. We expect to find that belief strength can be manipulated by the weight of evidence offered."