Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

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Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby weakmagneto on April 29th, 2012, 8:48 pm 

Logic Quashes Religious Belief
Huffington Post
Dr. Douglas Fields
Posted: 04/26/2012 4:19 pm

Psychologists William Gervais and Ara Norenzayan, at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, set out to determine whether or not critical thinking promotes religious disbelief. Their cleaver experiments show that this is indeed true, and the results illuminate how our two minds -- one analytical and the other intuitive -- compete in reaching a decision about what we believe.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-dougla ... 55683.html

Analytic thinking decreases religious belief.
Psychology Today
Religion and Reason
Published on April 26, 2012 by R. Douglas Fields in The New Brain

Psychologists William Gervais and Ara Norenzayan, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, predicted that people who were more analytic in thinking would tend not to believe in religion, whereas people who approach problems more intuitively would tend to be believers. Their study confirmed the hypothesis and the findings illuminate the mysterious cognitive process by which we reach decisions about our beliefs.

Cognitive theory of decision making supports the hypothesis that there are two independent processes involved in decision making. The first process is based on gut instinct, and this process is shared by other animals. The second cognitive process is an evolutionarily recent development, exclusive to humans, which utilizes logical reasoning to make decisions. Their study of 179 Canadian undergraduate students showed that people who tend to solve problems more analytically also tended to be religious disbelievers. This was demonstrated by giving the students a series of questions like the one above and then scoring them on the basis of whether they used intuition or analytic logic to reach the answers. Afterward, the researchers surveyed the students on whether or not they held religious beliefs. The results showed that the intuitive thinkers were much more likely to believe in religion.


http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the ... and-reason

Wow! From my understanding, this area hasn't been studied that much and this is supposed to be quite a controversial study. Any comments?
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Progression on April 29th, 2012, 10:26 pm 

Q: If a baseball and bat cost $110, and the bat costs $100 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost? A: If you answered $10 you are inclined to believe in religion. If you answered $5 you are inclined to disbelieve.


This is an interesting concept, but ultimately, I think it's rather useless. To me, this shows more your mathematical abilities rather than your likelihood of believing in religion. I would have to see more of the questions that were used in the study, but going on this question alone I'd have to doubt the legitimacy of this study. Analytically based thinking applies to much more than math, though that is one way to consider it. That being said, I would have to agree that people who listen to their instincts would be more likely to believe in "religion" (though this should also be defined more specifically in the study) because they would be more likely to allow emotion to influence their reasoning.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Dawnscout on May 2nd, 2012, 11:21 pm 

Seems to me that the brain/mind consciousness is limited and attenuated simply to permit one to exist and function in what one percieves as ordinary reality. The trick is to not mistake restricted consciousness and its attendant limited reality (as experiments like this might promote) for a complete explanation. The brain determines your everyday consciousness, not as a source, but as a filter. Most people can be both analytical and intuitive and not malfunction in society. Few understand (or want to believe) that consciousness connects all of us on more than one level of reality, so why focus on the differences when the similarities might prove more educational?
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Magister Miguel on May 3rd, 2012, 11:45 am 

Does it decrease religious belief specifically, or does it just decrease the dominant generally accepted belief?

In the old USSR, where religion was generally discouraged (to put the matter mildly), people who came from non-religious backgrounds and deliberately chose to practice a religion tended to be better educated and more intelligent than the norm.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Marshall on May 3rd, 2012, 3:00 pm 

Magister Miguel wrote:Does it decrease religious belief specifically, or does it just decrease the dominant generally accepted belief?

In the old USSR, where religion was generally discouraged (to put the matter mildly), people who came from non-religious backgrounds and deliberately chose to practice a religion tended to be better educated and more intelligent than the norm.


In the old USSR there was a class of people loosely called "dissidents" who bucked the system and asserted intellectual freedom and independence in a variety of ways. The dissidents were a minority. It's possible that as a whole they were better educated and smarter, however that would be measured.

To conclude anything we'd have to see reliable statistics and know how things were measured and how the data were gathered. But it sounds to me like you are talking about a subclass of dissidents. The motivation to be a dissident and stand at odds with the prevailing norm is complex. Among dissidents there could be both highly intuitive people and highly methodical analytical people.

Likewise among educated people there are these differences. I'm not clear what your point is.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Marshall on May 3rd, 2012, 3:13 pm 

Progression wrote:
Q: If a baseball and bat cost $110, and the bat costs $100 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost? A: If you answered $10 you are inclined to believe in religion. If you answered $5 you are inclined to disbelieve.


This is an interesting concept, but ultimately, I think it's rather useless. To me, this shows more your mathematical abilities rather than your likelihood of believing in religion. I would have to see more of the questions that were used in the study...


Right! Of course you would have to see more. You can judge absolutely zero about the validity of the study if you go on the basis of one question which the journalist picked out to represent the whole set of questions.
The other questions may or may not have been mathematical---we do not know.

I imagine it would be really challenging to think up questions that would distinguish between different ways of thinking. You would want to think of questions which the intuitive thinker gets RIGHT and where the analytical thinker get's trapped in a blind alley. If they made all the questions involve numbers and all of them like that $110 question, then they failed. It seems to me really hard to make up a good list. Almost impossible not to do a poor job.

But they are being published in SCIENCE magazine. That's good. Science magazine has high standards.
It might be worthwhile following up on this. Check the article when it comes out.
http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~will/pubs.html
"All materials available from authors on request."
http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~will/Online%20Supplement.pdf
Here's the summary page in Science magazine of 27 April
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/493
Science 27 April 2012:
Vol. 336 no. 6080 pp. 493-496
DOI: 10.1126/science.1215647
REPORT
Analytic Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief
Will M. Gervais*, Ara Norenzayan*
+ Author Affiliations

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T1Z4, Canada.
↵*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: will@psych.ubc.ca; (W.M.G.) ara@psych.ubc.ca (A.N.)
ABSTRACT

Scientific interest in the cognitive underpinnings of religious belief has grown in recent years. However, to date, little experimental research has focused on the cognitive processes that may promote religious disbelief. The present studies apply a dual-process model of cognitive processing to this problem, testing the hypothesis that analytic processing promotes religious disbelief. Individual differences in the tendency to analytically override initially flawed intuitions in reasoning were associated with increased religious disbelief. Four additional experiments provided evidence of causation, as subtle manipulations known to trigger analytic processing also encouraged religious disbelief. Combined, these studies indicate that analytic processing is one factor (presumably among several) that promotes religious disbelief. Although these findings do not speak directly to conversations about the inherent rationality, value, or truth of religious beliefs, they illuminate one cognitive factor that may influence such discussions.

I found a few other examples of their questions here, no idea if it is a fair sample though:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/suppl ... ais.SM.pdf
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby mtbturtle on May 3rd, 2012, 4:53 pm 

From the other side...Trent Dougherty doesn't think too much of this study nor the reporting on it.

http://prosblogion.ektopos.com/archives ... hinki.html

"Critical Thinking" and Theism, contra SA
By Trent Dougherty on May 3, 2012 11:37 AM

That venerable publishing outlet of the Secular-Industrial Establishment the Scientific American at least once had decent journalism and intelligent writing. That started to slide at least a decade ago, and though there are still some occasional gems, there is also plenty of tripe. To wit: this article called--utterly misleadingly--"How Critical Thinkers Lose Their Faith in God: Religious belief drops when analytical thinking rises.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Natural ChemE on May 3rd, 2012, 6:31 pm 

mtbturtle,

What's the "Secular-Industrial Establishment"?
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby mtbturtle on May 3rd, 2012, 6:36 pm 

NaturalChemE,

If you can't figure it out from the context of his comments, I surely can't provide you with a definition.

Despite such language (which perhaps is intentional given his comments regarding the language used in some of the stories - I really couldn't say), he makes some interesting comments and some fair points regarding the study and how it's being presented and used.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby sara20 on May 14th, 2012, 1:16 pm 

DUH!
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby TAMallick on May 14th, 2012, 1:45 pm 

Religious belief or disbelief is not main thing. I think most of wise people are believe in God.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Progression on May 14th, 2012, 2:57 pm 

TAMallick wrote:Religious belief or disbelief is not main thing. I think most of wise people are believe in God.


I'm not positive of what you meant by this, but if you are saying that MOST people who are WISE believe in God, then I think you may be mistaken. Of course, to make that claim you would have to provide a clear definition of what makes someone "wise". Also, a generalization like "most people" is a bit vague, especially when considering a topic like religious belief.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Dawnscout on May 16th, 2012, 10:54 am 

My question is, If analytical thinking is the same as thinking like a machine, then what is the benifit for a human being that tosses out all other forms of thought associated with the side of the brain that believes in God? I say, there goes creativity and spontenaity of thought when this occurs.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Athena on May 16th, 2012, 11:24 am 

weakmagneto wrote:Logic Quashes Religious Belief
Huffington Post
Dr. Douglas Fields
Posted: 04/26/2012 4:19 pm

Psychologists William Gervais and Ara Norenzayan, at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, set out to determine whether or not critical thinking promotes religious disbelief. Their cleaver experiments show that this is indeed true, and the results illuminate how our two minds -- one analytical and the other intuitive -- compete in reaching a decision about what we believe.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-dougla ... 55683.html

Analytic thinking decreases religious belief.
Psychology Today
Religion and Reason
Published on April 26, 2012 by R. Douglas Fields in The New Brain

Psychologists William Gervais and Ara Norenzayan, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, predicted that people who were more analytic in thinking would tend not to believe in religion, whereas people who approach problems more intuitively would tend to be believers. Their study confirmed the hypothesis and the findings illuminate the mysterious cognitive process by which we reach decisions about our beliefs.

Cognitive theory of decision making supports the hypothesis that there are two independent processes involved in decision making. The first process is based on gut instinct, and this process is shared by other animals. The second cognitive process is an evolutionarily recent development, exclusive to humans, which utilizes logical reasoning to make decisions. Their study of 179 Canadian undergraduate students showed that people who tend to solve problems more analytically also tended to be religious disbelievers. This was demonstrated by giving the students a series of questions like the one above and then scoring them on the basis of whether they used intuition or analytic logic to reach the answers. Afterward, the researchers surveyed the students on whether or not they held religious beliefs. The results showed that the intuitive thinkers were much more likely to believe in religion.


http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the ... and-reason

Wow! From my understanding, this area hasn't been studied that much and this is supposed to be quite a controversial study. Any comments?



Ouch, ouch! I don't know if I want to waste time on biased research. To begin by wanting to prove a point and using tricky questions to do, does not sound like my idea of good research. Besides the science community tends to be intolerant of religion, and all the science forums have rules controlling what can be said about religion, so maybe our "critical thinking" is really isn't critical thinking but is bias thinking, with too much faith in human driven science? Like is this not the wrongs of the church only the faith has changed?

For sure Dawnscout's concern is valid! Education for technology has destroyed our nations critical thinking, because we are now thinking in terms of true or false, and our politics have become as reactionary as German politics when Hitler came to power. I think we are going off the deep end.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Athena on May 16th, 2012, 11:30 am 

Magister Miguel wrote:Does it decrease religious belief specifically, or does it just decrease the dominant generally accepted belief?

In the old USSR, where religion was generally discouraged (to put the matter mildly), people who came from non-religious backgrounds and deliberately chose to practice a religion tended to be better educated and more intelligent than the norm.


May I suggest this is because religion teaches self discipline, and those without religion do not have a good bases for learning self discipline. Sure getting a degree requires self discipline, but this isn't exactly the self discipline that comes through religion and has a more general application in our lives.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby neuro on May 16th, 2012, 11:35 am 

Dawnscout wrote:My question is, If analytical thinking is the same as thinking like a machine, then what is the benifit for a human being that tosses out all other forms of thought associated with the side of the brain that believes in God? I say, there goes creativity and spontenaity of thought when this occurs.


I think this is a nice way of putting it.

Still, analyticity does not prevent getting puzzled by wonderful things and events in life, from looking for new possible answers to open questions, and from trying to gain insight by switching perspectives.

Actually, my impression is that sense of humor and love for paradox are much more important than believing in God, in order to exploit that part of the brain and to be creative and spontaneous...
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Athena on May 17th, 2012, 10:16 am 

neuro wrote:
Dawnscout wrote:My question is, If analytical thinking is the same as thinking like a machine, then what is the benifit for a human being that tosses out all other forms of thought associated with the side of the brain that believes in God? I say, there goes creativity and spontenaity of thought when this occurs.


I think this is a nice way of putting it.

Still, analyticity does not prevent getting puzzled by wonderful things and events in life, from looking for new possible answers to open questions, and from trying to gain insight by switching perspectives.

Actually, my impression is that sense of humor and love for paradox are much more important than believing in God, in order to exploit that part of the brain and to be creative and spontaneous...


Okay and how do humans gain a sense of humor and love for paradox?
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Lomax on May 17th, 2012, 12:23 pm 

neuro wrote:
Dawnscout wrote:My question is, If analytical thinking is the same as thinking like a machine, then what is the benifit for a human being that tosses out all other forms of thought associated with the side of the brain that believes in God? I say, there goes creativity and spontenaity of thought when this occurs.


I think this is a nice way of putting it.

Still, analyticity does not prevent getting puzzled by wonderful things and events in life, from looking for new possible answers to open questions, and from trying to gain insight by switching perspectives.

Actually, my impression is that sense of humor and love for paradox are much more important than believing in God, in order to exploit that part of the brain and to be creative and spontaneous...

Well said Neuro. We can toss out God without tossing out that side of the brain; there are plenty of creative atheists.

Athena...

Athena wrote:Ouch, ouch! I don't know if I want to waste time on biased research. To begin by wanting to prove a point and using tricky questions to do, does not sound like my idea of good research.

You know it's standard practice for a study to begin with a hypothesis, right?

Athena wrote:Besides the science community tends to be intolerant of religion

I note a historical special pleading; if scientists believe in religion, apologists go "see! Look at Isaac Newton! Look at Francis Collins!". If not they go "it's bias! It's all a conspiracy against us!"

Athena wrote:our politics have become as reactionary as German politics when Hitler came to power.

Beware of discrediting your argument with hyperbole.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Magister Miguel on May 17th, 2012, 1:06 pm 

Marshall wrote:Likewise among educated people there are these differences. I'm not clear what your point is.


My point is that there is nothing here to suggest that analytic thinking decreases religious belief - I could just as easily argue that analytic thinking reduces whatever the prevailing belief is.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Athena on May 19th, 2012, 1:20 am 

Lomax wrote:
Athena...

Athena wrote:Ouch, ouch! I don't know if I want to waste time on biased research. To begin by wanting to prove a point and using tricky questions to do, does not sound like my idea of good research.

You know it's standard practice for a study to begin with a hypothesis, right?

Athena wrote:Besides the science community tends to be intolerant of religion

I note a historical special pleading; if scientists believe in religion, apologists go "see! Look at Isaac Newton! Look at Francis Collins!". If not they go "it's bias! It's all a conspiracy against us!"

Athena wrote:our politics have become as reactionary as German politics when Hitler came to power.

Beware of discrediting your argument with hyperbole.


Beginning research with a hypothesis is very different from knowing the answer you want, and designing the research to get that answer. Maybe it is only in social sciences where this a stress?

I do not understand what you are talking about in your "note a historical special pleading"? What does Isaac Newton have to do with beginning intolerant of religion?

Perhaps if you question me, you will decide hyperbole is not a problem in what I said.

This thread made me realize there is an important difference between analytical thinking and conceptual thinking. I think it is perhaps a lack of conceptual thinking that has made our politics become reactionary. When we were focused on teaching progressively more complex concepts, text book would sometimes begin with a warning to the teacher, to not pay too much attention to details such as dates and names, and to be careful to ask open ended questions. When this was the focus of education, a student could disagree with a teacher and get a good grade, as long as s/he demonstrated an understanding of the concept. How do I say? Knowing concepts is different from knowing facts. I hope someone here can explain this better than I am doing.

Like I said in another thread, conceptual thinking is about how we think, not what we think.
But education for technology is about what we think. It is facts devoid meaning, and amoral. A whole different mind world from earlier years when education was about good moral judgment. This new mind world tends to be right or wrong, reactionary. It is conditioned thinking. Not the pondering thinking of the past, and thinking about what we think. It comes from the education philosophy that we are all born with blank brains and anything can be written on them if the right technique is used, and the state has the right to determine what to write on those brains. It is education for the technology necessary to the Military Industrial Complex. Totally different mind world.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Whut on May 19th, 2012, 1:28 am 

IMO: Looking at the sample question (trick question), this test says more about the relationship between religion, TRUST and SKEPTICISM, than it does analytical processes in general.

/psychology
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Athena on May 19th, 2012, 11:09 am 

Whut, what you said is enlightening. Christians being with a premise that we are born in sin and are not to be trusted, unless we are indoctrinated as they are. I am beginning to fully understand this.

I am skeptical of the research, because I think it is biased by a desire to prove religion is not necessary. Which is a failure to understand why it is necessary. Like Socrates, I believe there is a better alternative, but destroying religion without developing the alternative is, like selling both of ones kidneys to buy a TV.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby CTD on May 20th, 2012, 4:04 am 

So first the euphemism was "Science" = atheism
Then "Rational" = atheism
Then "Skeptical" = atheism

...and some others...

...and now "Analytical" = atheism!

To funny! Real beliefs don't need to compromise meanings and steal terms.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Athena on May 27th, 2012, 8:39 pm 

I am coming back to this thread because of a conversation I had with my friend, while walking through a park. We passed a picture of a castle, and knowing he is a bit of an expert on history during the time of kings and knights, I asked him if the gate to castle was well guard, and he immediately noticed the turrets were missing. From there the discussion got most interesting and romantic if you like the idea of knights and kingdoms, and he commented about our young no longer have imaginations. This hit me like lightening, because it is what I deal with in these internet discussions, especially when speaking of God. We have become so materialistic and so factual, and so unimaginative and intolerant.

It is wonderful to distinguish between correct information and false information, but to not be able to contemplate God, morals and our souls, is another matter. To be too rigid, and intolerant is not a good thing, and this is what education for technology has brought is to.

I am quoting Charles Sarolea form "The Anglo-Saxon Problem". A book he wrote to convince the world that Germany was preparing for war. His book was ignored until the outbreak of the first world war shortly after the first publication of his book.

"The Prussian remains as he has always been, inartistic and dull and unromantic. Prussia has not produced one of the great composers who are the pride of the German race; and Berlin, with all its wealth and its two million inhabitants, strikes the foreigner as one of the most commonplace capitals of the civilized world. The Southern and Western German is gay and genial, courteous and expansive; the Prussian is sullen, reserved, and aggressive. The Southern and Western German is sentimental and generous; and the Prussian is sour and dour, and believes only in hard fact. The Southern and Western German is an idealist; the Prussian a realist and a materialist, a stern rationalist, who always keeps his eye on the main chance. The Southern and Western German is independent almost to the verge of anarchism; he has a strong individuality; his patriotism is municipal and parochial; he is attached to his little city, to its peculiarities and local customs; the Prussian is imitative, docile, and disciplined, his patriotism is not the sentimental love of the native city, but the abstract loyalty to the state. .... Prussia is a settlement, an army, and a bureaucracy rather than a nation; but the Prussian is unswervingly loyal to the commander of that army, submissive to the chief of that bureaucracy."
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Deftil on May 27th, 2012, 9:06 pm 

I'm never sure how to respond whenever I see studies like this... especially without sounding like a jerk. But yea, the results aren't particularly surprising to me, regardless of whether the results of this or any other particular study were arrived at in a reliable and completely legitimate fashion.

Psychologists William Gervais and Ara Norenzayan, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, predicted that people who were more analytic in thinking would tend not to believe in religion, whereas people who approach problems more intuitively would tend to be believers. Their study confirmed the hypothesis...

Studies do have kind of a funny way of proving researchers' hypotheses.
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Re: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief, new study

Postby Athena on May 28th, 2012, 1:14 am 

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/blog/torture/

On the subject of questioning authority, perhaps nothing is more important than this report on the Bush administration and torture. We are totally hypocritical to point an accusing finger at Germans for what happened during WWII, while we deny the abuse of authority and the human cruelty that occurred during the Bush administration. We need to address what occurred during the Bush administration as the world addressed what happened in NAZI Germany, and apply international law to ourselves, not just others. This really is a question of authority and who gets away with what. We should not abuse the power of our nation by putting our own above the law. How is this different from the mentality of Hitler and those who followed him?
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