February 10, 2014
"Why Sam Harris is Unlikely to Change his Mind"
While researching for his book The Righteous Mind, social psychologist and professor of business ethics Jonathan Haidt was struck by the prevalence of statements of certainty in New Atheism books. Following his hunch, Haidt ran the three most important New Atheist works—Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, Sam Harris's The End of Faith, and Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell—through a computer program that counts words indicating certainty, like "always," "never," "every," and "undeniable." He checked the results against those from the books of three "wingnuts"—Anne Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck—as well as those from three books on religion written by scientists who are not considered New Atheists. The results are below.
"Isn't the most reasonable approach," asks Haidt, "one that takes seriously the known flaws of human reasoning?"
–Alex Caring-Lobel, Associate Editor