Critics say religious children can't tell fact from fiction; researchers disagree

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  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Aug. 15, 2014 6:37 a.m.

    @ 4601
    Religious folk are always trying to silent the atheists. Generally because they're afraid they're right (atheists) and worry that they've wasted their time involved in religious activity.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Aug. 14, 2014 6:25 p.m.


    "Atheists try to insert their message into everything. It gets old."

    Have you seen the story "Bibles booted from U.S. Navy base guest rooms?"

  • 4601 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 14, 2014 5:34 p.m.

    There You Go Again
    Saint George, UT

    Blame FoxNews, the Dredge Report, Republicans, It's an old defense, but one without relevance. When you can't dispute the facts, shoot the messenger.

    ordinary folks,

    My experience has been the opposite. Atheists try to insert their message into everything. It gets old. A famous atheist once said they the only thing he can't stand is someone who believes they are right, but refuses to tell others. If you don't like the program, change channels.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Aug. 14, 2014 9:13 a.m.

    @ Tators

    "The most liberal of the group, MSNBC ended up the least, coming in at only 5% who trust it. Fox News...was the most trusted by 26% of respondents..."

    I happen to really care what is true, whether or not I like it, so I don't watch either. My observation and experience is that, the more conservative one is, the less likely this is going to be the case.

    So maybe these stats reflect the relative standards associated with one's general worldview. Maybe they suggest that, the more conservative you are, the more you value hearing what you believe to be true as opposed to what is actually true.

    It also occurred to me that, assuming your stats are accurate, they may also reflect the breakdown of those on the extremes. I often see stats suggesting that 20-25% of the population is "far-right conservative." This coincides nicely with the stat you cite. I wonder if the 5% who believe MSNBC is trustworthy represent the far-left liberal population. Their standards for truth are no better than their polar opposites. Again, based on personal observation only.

  • Michael Matthews Omaha, NE
    Aug. 14, 2014 6:31 a.m.

    @ Tators

    Your argument packs little punch. If we currently polled America and asked them to solve a particularly hard math problem (multiple choice even) and only 5% got the correct answer, it would change nothing about the truth. You certainly can't trust opinion polls in terms of finding truth.

    However, having said that, I find it easy to show that Fox news does an overt job of slanting issues toward Republican ideas while it's just as easy to show that MSNBC does the same exact thing in slightly (and only slightly) less overt ways for Democratic causes.

    Stating openly that those who read Fox News are being essentially brainwashed and lied to without making the same claims about MSNBC is certainly one-sided and sad too because those who can't see both are slanted are indeed "drinking Kool-aid" somewhat and being tossed around by the winds of political doctrine.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Aug. 14, 2014 5:17 a.m.

    "Can't tell fact from fiction". Then they grow up (the implication of the story) into adults that can't tell fact from fiction. It's what religion is and always has been. All you can hope for is your own specific belief system is a little more tolerant than the others.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 4:41 p.m.

    @liberty or...
    "Your temprature degree statements according to Al gore, Hansen, and 90's enviromentalists are off by about 10-20 degrees from what they said in the late 80's and 90's."

    Hansen and climate scientists (and even politicians like Al Gore) never predicted a 10-20 degree increase in temperature over a span of 20 years. That's just completely false. On a related note, I'm much more concerned about adults and politicians mistaking fact and fiction (like Joni Ernst talking about Agenda 21 the other day) than I am children.

  • Tators Logan, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 4:06 p.m.

    @ There You Go Again:

    Interesting that you are dissing Fox News. An independent national survey was done about 2 months ago asking Americans which news services they trusted most. There were approximately 8 affiliates involved.

    The most liberal of the group, MSNBC ended up the least, coming in at only 5% who trust it.
    Fox News, the one that apparently bothers you, was the most trusted by 26% of respondents... the highest percentage of any sevice in the survey. The others all came in-between those two.

    As such, it would appear you yourself might be struggling with how and where you can go to distinguish truth from fiction. Based on current adult perceptions, Fox News is the most trusted in our entire country. Your probable favorite is currently the very least trusted.

    Good food for thought.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 3:54 p.m.


    "Most every atheist or agnostic I know does not give a flip about your deity or anyone else's". Well you seem to care plenty to file law suits at Christmas time stopping us from expressing our beliefs but I don't see any law suits from Christians against your leftist crowd demanding you take down your athiest bill boards advertisements...correct? Yes I am correct. You see - you speak of good people but what we see in practice is not-so-good people on your side. In fact we see angry - hate filled people with ZERO tolerance for any opinion but your opinion which is typical of secular America.

    One more point - do you understand what "freedom of religion means"? One part of that freedom is freedom from hate filled people attempting to STOP the public worship of religion. Yes public worship is part of what America is all about. In horrible Communist places like the old USSR there is no public worship allowed - only private which seems to be to your liking. Correct? Thankfully our founders granted us freedom of religion allowing us to publically worship without fear.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 3:42 p.m.


    "we just want you to not try to impose your religion on the rest of us"

    I find it funny when you on the secular left speak of not wanting us on the right to not impose our religion on you. It seems to me that there are no law suits by conversatives or Christians attempting to force anything - all the "force" and "law suits" come from your guys. Every year there is a flurry of anti-christmas law suits but I don't see any anti athiest law you?? Show me one. I can show you plenty from your side. You see - conservatives are content to live WITH atheists and accomidate and respect their dis-belief but that does not go both ways unfortunately. One more thing - in a free republic like America it is the majority that rules in our nation - our states - our towns. Yes the majority by democratic vote rule. That is how our framers created it. You seem to have a problem with allowing the will of the majority to rule. Correct? If you want change then get out and find enough like mined people who will vote your way.

  • Objectified Richfield, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 3:09 p.m.

    @ calu:

    I, my grown children, and most other adults I associate with have gone through similar experiences as you... but without the ever wondering about the reality of God... even after eventually figuring out the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause stuff.

    There seems to be something deep within a person that testifies and verifies to a person that God is indeed real and exists with a master plan for our entire existence.
    A person can deny and minimize that innate feeling after going through some struggles in life... and some do. But it's definitely there for most people... even as smaller children. In my experience, most seem to retain it throughout life without experiencing much doubt.

    If you are still struggling with it, sit down and pray about it with sincere intent. Then quietly listen to your inner voice that will follow to obtain your desired verification.

  • calu Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 2:45 p.m.

    When i was a child first I learned there was no Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny. of course I was sad, but my very faithful Mormon parents kept up with the Santa Claus myth for a while. I truly believed in Santa-that he could see if I was "naughty or nice" and so on. When they finally told me there was no Santa Claus I was waiting for them to tell me there was no God either. In my mind there was not much difference. And my very loving parents had lied to me, something I had been taught not to do. What is right and wrong? Sometimes I still have to sit down and sort it out.

  • Tators Logan, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 2:40 p.m.

    If anyone wants real examples of people trying to decipher fact from fiction and struggling with it, they have to look no further than at the campaign promises Obama made back in 2008 when he first ran for president. Wow! Most of those went from "reality" to bona-fide fiction in a relatively short time.
    Then the numerous fictitious lies he told about Romney in the 2nd campaign have since been verified as such... after the intended damage was already done as intended.

    I'd try listing all the bogus promises but am limited to a mere 200 words in this format. But here's just a few...

    "I will cut the federal deficit in half by the end of my first term."
    Reality: He essentially doubled it instead.

    "I will eliminate the gridlock in Congress."
    Reality: I can never remember the gridlock being worse than it now is.

    "I will close Guantanamo Bay within my first year in office".
    Reality: It's still there and running 6 years later.

    "If you want to keep your insurance and your doctor, you can. Period!"
    Reality: Obama won several Pinocchio lying awards from the Washington Post for that one.


  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    Aug. 13, 2014 2:35 p.m.


    It is good to see that someone gets away with capital letters. It seems the Deseret News censors get upset when I use them to denote members of the Later Days Saints. Well at least I know that when I pursue a religiously conservative agenda that all capital letters are allowed. Good to know the rules.

    Snark aside, you do need to get a grip. Most every atheist or agnostic I know does not give a flip about your deity or anyone else's. It is simply not a point of reference. All these good people care about is the insistence of religionists to proselytize and propagandize your particular faith traditions in the public arena.

  • liberty or ...? Ogden, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 1:46 p.m.

    @ Schnee... actually the solution for the ozone never happened. Even Bill Nye the Science guy (and I say that with the greatest amount of sarcasm) highlighted the Greenhouse gas emissions and even styrofoam decomposition (something your meat from the supermarket is packaged in everyday) as primary causes. Even the founder of green peace has admitted this was false, ourgreen house emissions with the progress in China and India have increased not decreased and the Ozone layer is not only not 40% depleted it is shown to be fluctuating and growing smaller and larger which is irrelevant of the emissions or production. Your temprature degree statements according to Al gore, Hansen, and 90's enviromentalists are off by about 10-20 degrees from what they said in the late 80's and 90's. They had to revise it since the average temprature stopped rising in 1998. Incidentally this is when we started getting the term Climate change instead of Global warming as a CYA excuse never mind Hansen one of the leading researchers of GW was caught fudging the tempratures from warmer months into colder months at NASA around the same time.

  • mcclark Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 1:33 p.m.

    "Patriot" Nonsense, we just want you to not try to impose your religion on the rest of us. Believe what you want, I don't care, just dont try to make me live your religion. I find it silly that you believe your morals are better then mine when you know nothing about me. I must have missed the memo with the stated mission goal of destroying the fabric of America.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 12:14 p.m.

    Let's cut to the REAL issue here with atheists and the secular world - atheists and the secular world HATE God and anything to do with GOD therefore the natural progression in that poisonious thinking is to marginalize and condemn anyone who DOES believe. How to best accomplish that agenda is to first start with the youth and attempt to create some alarming study that shows how dangerous religion is with children. Out pops the fact and fiction nonsensical claim. Of course there is no evidence to support such a claim - not real scientific study - but there is plenty of anthiest blogging and articles by athiests and secular progressives to create the illusion that somehow there is real evidence (when there is not). The goal here remember is to create some sort of hysteria in the minds of society which would natually propel them to curb down religious teaching with children.

    The reality: the atheist, secular, political left will not stop trying to destroy the founding fabric of America. It is there stated mission and goal. Fundamental change - remember?

    The solution: common sense and core values will win the day for America and Americans over this vile propaganda.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 10:47 a.m.

    @liberty or...?
    "that the Temperature predictions from the 1990's where we are already supposed to risen 10-20 degrees which even there own Data at NASA has disproved"

    I think you mean .1-.2 degrees since that's what the prediction was. And then the 2000s were something like .1C warmer than the 1990s.

    "How about the Ozone fairy tail where by now according to their predictions should be depleted by nearly 40% (was taught this as a sophmore by my SCIENCE teacher)? "

    You forgot the detail where we did something about it to try and stop the downward trajectory.

  • liberty or ...? Ogden, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    What Fiction stories? You mean the scientific fiction story that we were all going into an Ice age due to Global cooling back in the 1970's? How about the Global warming fiction story that the Temperature predictions from the 1990's where we are already supposed to risen 10-20 degrees which even there own Data at NASA has disproved.How about the Ozone fairy tail where by now according to their predictions should be depleted by nearly 40% (was taught this as a sophmore by my SCIENCE teacher)? You mean the common core fiction assignment in California that denies the Holocaust actually happened? Or the Atheist claims that are country was not founded on Judeo Christian principles when John Adams and James Madison themselves credit Deuteronomy as the principle source of inspiration for the constitution and the Declaration of Independance? But I agree there have been alot of scientific fiction taught as fact just as there has been some religious fiction taught as fact.Still a lot of spiritual fact has been ignored as fiction despite the evidance of our own societal decline and its abandonment of spirtiual morals.Maybe both are needed

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Aug. 13, 2014 9:58 a.m.

    I think the secret is not to go to extremes on one side or the other - in religion as well as politics. There are only a few core beliefs that really matter as far as religion is concerned: God lives, unconditional love offer peace and control of our lives, Christ's atonement offers us second chances and a pathway to improvement. Same with politics: vote, serve your country, live and respect the law.

    What party we belong to, which church we attend or whether we even believe, is second in importance to the fact that we are all human beings and deserving of respect. Just as I mistrust fundamentalists who think all others will go to Hell, I fear Atheist factions who are now saying my practice of religion in my family is "child abuse". I likewise don't think you have to be Republican or Democrat to be a good American.

    It's ironic in this age of "information", how ignorant, extreme and tribal we are becoming...

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 8:45 a.m.

    There You Go Again:

    Obviously you believe that the only political Kool-Aid drinkers are on the right. No one on the left has their reality shaped by the steady stream of propaganda from progressive news outlets, right?

    I just wish that as many liberals were as skeptical about the policies and motivations of the leaders in the Democratic party as conservatives are about the GOP.

    I am a conservative but I will be the first to call out the GOP when someone does something stupid, is caught in an ethics scandal, or tells blatant lies. I rarely see any of that on the left. They only see problems in the other party, not their own.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 7:40 a.m.

    Can't tell fact from fiction?

    The same can be said for adults whose reality is shaped/based/formed/framed by a steady diet of FOX News, The Drudge Report as well as other Republican Network News affiliates.

    C'est la vie.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Aug. 13, 2014 7:13 a.m.

    The conclusion in the abstract is, "The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children's differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories."

    But as the quote from Corriveau suggests, the power is not in religious ideas themselves, but how they are presented to the child - who is, after all, programmed to believe its caregivers and authority figures in early childhood.

    So I think the study suggests that, when children are taught that magic is real and they are surrounded by adults who consistently reinforce this belief, this can strongly impact their ability to differentiate between reality and fiction. Not an earth-shaking revelation by any means - just confirmation of what we already knew. Children would likely also continue to believe in Santa Claus if this myth was reinforced after they began to question it.

  • bass679 Novi, MI
    Aug. 13, 2014 6:32 a.m.

    Honestly this makes a lot of sense to me. I remember when I was a kid having the hardest time remembering whether Samson or Hercules was a real person. I don't know how much it helped abstract thinking later in life (majored in physics) but I don't think it hurt at all. However it made me much more cautious to call someone else's beliefs "silly". Because I know I believe many things they would likely call silly with a very similar conviction.

  • Liberal Ted Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 6:15 a.m.

    These are 5-6 year old kids. Give them a break. I could phrase those paragraphs to prove that atheist kids don't have an imagination or an ability to be creative. We have grown adults who are clueless as to who is president right now, but, voted for him.

  • Philosopher Goose Creek, SC
    Aug. 13, 2014 6:00 a.m.

    You can find almost any study to support any point of view. Point in case: "Benefits of running daily" vs. "Why you shouldn't run daily." Those who want to promote atheism will find any study to support their views, and those who support religion ought to discount the aforementioned studies.