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My Judeophilia

One of the implicit attitude tests confirms something I've always suspected: that I am somewhat Judeophilic (or whatever the the opposite of anti-Semitic is). Well, technically, the test says I have "a moderate preference for Judaism compared to Other Religions."

You have completed the Judaism-Other Religions IAT.
The line immediately below summarizes the results of your task performance.

Your data suggest a moderate automatic preference for Judaism compared to Other Religions.
If your feedback was 'The result could not be determined', click here.

Your result, reported above, is already corrected for the order in which you took the parts of the IAT. If you have a question about the effect of order, please read the answer to FAQ 1 on the page of FAQs for this test.

The interpretation shown above is described as 'automatic preference for Judaism' if you responded faster when Judaism faces and Good words were classified with the same key as opposed to Other Religions faces and Good words. It is marked 'automatic preference for Other Religions' if you were faster when giving the same response to Other Religions faces and Good words. Depending on the magnitude of your result, your automatic preference may be described as 'slight', 'moderate', 'strong', or 'little to no preference'.

This test measures implicit anti-Semitism, a tendency to associate Jews or Judaism with negative concepts more so than other social groups and religions. Anti-Semitism is widely believed to have declined in the last century, but nevertheless still exists, and may now exist more in implicit than overt form. This test uses symbols associated with Judaism, and contrasts them with combined symbols of several other religions. This design was intended to create a more general test than one that contrasted Judaic symbols with those of just a single other religion.

If you have unanswered questions about the task, please review the frequently asked questions about this type of research. Any followup questions can be directed to the researchers by email at that page.

Actually, I would say that I am not so much pro-Judaism as I am pro-Jews. When I was an undergraduate, all of my favorite professors were Jewish. Some of my best friends are Jews. Many of the people I admire the most in the arts and sciences are Jews. In my entire life I can recall only two Jews that I did not particularly like. One was a neighbor who was simply loony. Another was a professor in graduate school who, for no reason I could fathom, took an extreme disliking toward me, and this hurt my feelings.

The religion of Judaism, on the other hand, I find just as primitive as any religion. The best thing that it has going for it is that members usually do not proselytize. Therefore, my favorite Jews are atheistic Jews. If I had to pick a religion it would be a godless, Eastern religion.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
May. 12th, 2006 08:19 pm (UTC)
I personally find orthopraxy healthier than orthodoxy

Yeah, me too, as long as the practices don't interfere with other important parts of your life. I dig celebrating the major Sabbats, even if I lack belief in the God and Goddess. Well, maybe I temporarily suspend disbelief on those nights . . .
May. 12th, 2006 09:57 pm (UTC)
"orthopraxy"? I'm unfamiliar with the term... and the only definition I found on dictionary.com was medical.

Interesting, isn't it, that we both got the same result on this tests-- a preference for Judaic symbols that we attribute to a general positive stereotype of the Jewish people. In my case, I think it's mostly family-based, but also there are a lot of Jewish scientists, etc. (mostly scientists) whom I admire greatly. I'm thinking of starting a "Culturally Jewish" community, actually-- I now have quite a few friends who, like me, feel a strong attraction to our Jewish heritage and culture, but are not religiously Jewish.

Don't know how much you're interested in psychology, but I'm curious to know what you think of the testing method used. How accurate do you think it is? I think it's pretty good, on the whole, but I'm wondering if it's been compared against some other, more generally recognized, method of testing for biases.
May. 13th, 2006 12:42 am (UTC)
Ortho="right" or "correct"
Orthopraxy="right practice" = faithful reproduction of ancient rituals.

Many Jews have told me that Judaism is defined primarily by traditional religious practices rather than beliefs. I think I truly understand how fulfilling it can be to carry on traditional practices. I play at this myself by doing small ritual work on the traditional pagan holidays.

Daniel Dennett, by the way, has a terrific analysis of the passing on of religious rituals in his book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

As for how much I am interested in psychology, well, I am a professor of psychology so I am sometimes interested in the subject. ;-)

In fact, psychological assessment is my specialty. Implicit attitude testing is a relatively new technology, the modern equivalent of the Rorschach inkblot test. Like scores on projective tests, scores on implicit attitude tests tend not to correlate with scores on questionnaire-type measure, which presumably are subject to conscious manipulation. Unlike questionnaires, implicit attitude tests do not have a strong track record of predicting real life events.
May. 13th, 2006 12:39 am (UTC)
Woo! Go atheistic Jews!

But notice how the vast majority of influential Jews in the arts and sciences are atheists as well? Or that pretty much anybody making important contributions is an atheist? My rabbis would always try to argue that the large number of influential, creative and scientific Jews "proved" that our religion is correct, because obviously "god" is watching out for us. I'd counter by saying that three of the four most influential Jews (Freud, Marx, Einstein and Jesus) were atheists, and that the fourth spawned a new religion. They'd get all miffed and try to claim that Einstein wasn't really an atheist. Good times in Yeshiva.
May. 13th, 2006 12:46 am (UTC)
Damn straight!
May. 14th, 2006 11:01 pm (UTC)
statistical analysis...
Perhaps we should look at the fact that so many Jews are atheists... particularly among the intelligentsia. Is that because that intellectual life (highly supported in Jewish culture) tends to lead to atheism? Is it because many of the famous influential Jews (such as Einstein and Freud) existed in the post WWII era, when a huge percentage of Jews lost their faith because of the Holocaust? Or am I wrong to think that a higher percentage of Jews than other religions have become atheist?

If you don't mind a personal question, are you also an atheist Jew? I've been talking with a few friends about starting up a "Culturally Jewish" community for those of us who feel a tie to our heritage but not the faith itself. Would you be interested?

by the way, I'm not sure, but I think you may be wrong about Einstein-- he wasn't religious, and I understand he was fairly set against organized religion, but I don't think he was an atheist-- agnostic, perhaps. A number of his quotes make reference to god (including the ever-famous "I cannot believe that God plays dice with the Universe"), and I don't think the mention was facetious.
May. 15th, 2006 12:03 am (UTC)
Re: statistical analysis...
Here are some quotations about Einstein's religious beliefs:

My favorite is, "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
May. 16th, 2006 04:48 pm (UTC)
Re: statistical analysis...
well, yes, I know that Einstein didn't believe in a personal God (and that if he did have any such conception, it was Jewish rather than Christian in nature), but that's rather different from saying that he is an atheist. I think he maintained a sense that there was a divine force behind the workings of the universe. Doesn't quite qualify him for the atheist camp, I'm afraid. Brilliant man, though. Had some great ideas.
May. 16th, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC)
My case for Einstein's atheism
I like to trot out the following argument for calling Einstein an atheist. Whether or not you buy it is your call . . .

Einstein was quoted as saying "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings."

Now, Spinoza was a pantheist. A pantheist identifies God with the entire natural universe, viz., everything is God.

Next, consider that concepts achieve meaningfulness through contrasts with what they are not. So, for example, "sacred" has meaning only through its contrast, "profane."

But, what happens if you try to apply a concept to everything? If you say, "Everything is sacred," is that different from saying, "Everything is profane?" I think not.

Therefore, I see no difference between saying, "Everything is God" (pantheism) and "Nothing is God" (atheism).

We had a discussion about this on alt.atheism back in 1993:
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )