Lindeman, M et al (2013) Atheists become emotionally aroused when daring God to do terrible things is available for free from the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. The study measured different people’s emotional arousal by proxy of their skin conductance. The participants were given statements in three categories: neutral, offensive and God. As participants read each one, the investigators read their emotional arousal. Atheists reacted to the God statements! Why would they do that, if they don’t believe in God?
This may well be an example of “bad science”. With that in mind, I invite Fourat J to have a look. Below I have outlined why I think the research was not necessarily bad science, but that the conclusions far overreach the data. Okay, so that may make for bad science. The comment was not left on the article itself, but on reporting of it I found here (take a look at it all and tell me whether it is good science):
I want to see this method repeated, but the variation should not be the inclusion of God, or not. The variation should be the inclusion of any number of fictional characters, real characters and the control group of passive voice statements. An example of these three would be:
I dare God to drown my parents,
I dare Barack Obama to drown my parents,
My parents will be drowned.
This should determine whether any incitement of horrific acts towards family cause these fluctuations in skin-conductance, or whether the conductance in some way represents belief.
Also, in criticism on the conclusions, I feel emotionally different saying “I will kick a puppy” and “it is okay to kick puppies”. I don’t know why I do, but I do. So the control statements are not calibrated properly.