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The social mind & cognitive
Morals - religion
Gender differences and ToM
Common reasons
 Why be religious? Popular beliefs
Why have mascots?
Make sense of otherwise unpredictable events
Personal crisis
Adolescence – identity crisis
Luck, chance, etc..
Make sense of the world – the problem of
 Human obsession : causal thinking – there HAS
to be a cause for everything
 Attribution: percieved cause of action
Internal vs external attribution
Consensus – other people same situation
Distinctiveness – same individual – different situation
Consistency – same individual – same situation
Interoceptive sensations of bodily action
Flaws in the system
Actor/observer effect (Jones and Nisbett) –
fundamental attribution error
Attention: drawing attention either to self or others
shifs attribution
Self-serving attributions – just world
Avoid feelings of vulnerability and mortality –
Why do we inevitably feel stupid after an
interview or presentation?
self-awareness – how conscious we are of our
own looks, behaviour and words
Enhances negative opinion – as a result of
experiencing oneself as the source of perception
and action
Interview – people look bored – reason
Footnote: depression – more self-aware?
The „mirror experiment”
 subjective and objective self-awareness (Duval and
Wicklund, 1972)
 Mirror makes people more self-aware and less environment
 Mirrors make one stick to norms more often
Stigmas – social and linguistic enhance self-awareness
and conforming to norms
 A footnote on linguistics
Bement a házba.
Bent van a házban.
 Mirror: sticking to the norms more
God’s authorship
 Authorship in a word recognition task
 Participants are told they are competing with a computer
The computer takes the word off the screen after 450,
500, 550, 600, 650, 700 ms
Participants have to make a judgement on 1-6 scale
whether it was them or the computer who took the word
off the screen
Dijksterhuis, A. et al., EVects of subliminal priming of self and God on self-attribution of authorship for events, Journal of
Experimental Social Psychology (2007), doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2007.01.003
17 ms prime
250 ms
50 ms
Target word
task: was it
you or the
(1 computer
6 me)
 No differences in lexical decision time
"It wa
me wh
did th
is "
Sociology of religions
 Five main religions:
 This is based on a historical account – not on
current sociological averages
Religions – how important is it?
Religions in the world
Atheism - The Lenin Mausoleum
 Embalmed body of
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
2 reasons for
proper burial
Eva Perón
Abraham Civil
Some religions
explicitly forbid
An interesting footnote
 The Cathedral of Our
Lady of Kazan
 Museum of the History
of Religion and Atheism
Evolutionary accounts of religion
 Richard Dawkins
 Openly attacking religion –
derogatory of believers
 Supporter of the Brights
 Bright – Paul Geisert’s
umbrella term
 Daniel C. Denett
More of a compromise
Restricts himself to the
argument that religion can and
should be studied by science
Dawkins’s previous views
 An ardent opponent to creationism and
proponent of evolution - earning him the title of
Darwin’s Rottweiler
 The Blind Watchmaker – focuses on how
evolution could create marvellous structures –
like the eye
Not openly against religion
William Paley – a watch presupposes intelligent
design because of its complexity
The Weasel problem
 Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in
shape of a camel?
Polonius: By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.
Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.
 Based on the infinite monkey theorem
 A monkey bashing away at random on a
typewriter – given enough time he would type
the entire works of Shakespeare
 how long would it take him to produce the
sentence ‘Methinks it is like a weasel.’?
The Weasel problem
Methinks it is like a weasel
This is 28 characters
Using 26 letters – only capitals and aspace bar
2728 = 1040 = infinity, or at least much longer than
milliseconds from the existence of the universe
(13,73 billion = 13,73 * 109 years = 7,22 * 1018
Sir Frederick Hoyle
„approximately the same order of magnitude
as the probability that a hurricane could
sweep through a junkyard and randomly
assemble a Boeing 747.”
solar system full of blind men solving Rubik's
Cube simultaneously.
The simplest bacterium needs 1040,000
permutations, while the number of the atoms
in the universe is „only” 1080,
 the chance is the same as throwing 50 000 sixes
in a row with a die
Astronomer and sci-fi writer
He opposed the Big Bang theory – because it
needs a cause Steady State theory
He also opposed natural abiogenesis!
 Intelligent design - Evolution from Space
Hoyle’s fallacy
They calculate the probability of the formation of a
"modern" protein, or even a complete bacterium with all
"modern" proteins, by random events.
 This is not the abiogenesis theory at all – it starts with VERY
SIMPLE organisms (you don’t need 28 letters. You start with
say 3.)
They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with
fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.
They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather
than simultaneous trials.
 Changing one at a time – mutations are rare but do not exclude
each other
They seriously underestimate the number of functional
enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random
sequences – only one good solution fallacy
The Weasel problem
 Cumulative selections instead of a single step
 Two differences in his model:
 Copying mechanism – it retains previous
 There is an inherent goal – any change that
occurs towards methinks it is a weasel is
kept, others are discarded
 Fitness or adaptive
landscapes – genetic
variation is pushed to the
direction of the arrows
 Waddington – epigenetic
landscape – curiously posits a
rolling, not a climbing ball
 Saddle points in
mathematics as non-optimal
The circular argumentation problem
 Inherent goal – often evokes attacks of circular
The effects strive towards the goal
The goal preexists (who invented the goal?)
 Answer – evolutionary forces
How do you know this was the goal?
 Because it is reached!
 The book was a best-seller
sold over 1,5 million copies and translated to 31
„If this book works as I intend, religious readers
who open it will be atheists when they put it down.
What presumptuous optimism! Of course, dyed-inthe-wool faith-heads are immune to argument,
their resistance built up over years of childhood
indoctrination using methods that took centuries to
mature (whether by evolution or design).”
„But I believe there are plenty of open-minded
people out there:”
 Conversely it raised sales of spiritual books by 50%
and the sales of the Bible by 120% (
 Douglas Adams:
 "isn't it enough to see that a garden is
beautiful without having to believe
that there are fairies at the bottom of
it too?„ (The Hitchhiker’s guide to the
 Robert Pirsig:
 when one person suffers from a
delusion it is called insanity. When
many people suffer from a delusion it
is called religion.
The God hypothesis
 Einsteinean religion
 Metaphor for nature or the mysteries of
the universe
 „God does not play dice” – rules of
nature can be established
 (there is a trap of intentionalism here)
 The God Hypothesis
 God=creator of universe, who needs to
be worshipped
 Denies the fact that science and religion
are non-overlapping magisteria
The God hypothesis
 „How the complex, improbable desing of
the universe arises”
 The Arument from Design vs natural
 The Ultimate Boeing 747 Gambit
The God hypothesis
 Curiously universal
 „theory of religion as an accidental by-product – a
misfiring of something useful”
 The intentional stance
 Memes
 Morals
 would you commit murder, rape or robbery if
you knew that no God existed?
 Kant : categorical imperatives
 Dawkins : altruistic genes selected for by
evolution creating natural empathy
 Strongy against the religious indoctrination of
 Should all cultural practices be banned then?
Denett on religion
 An argument towards the scientific study of
religion – terrorist attempts 9/11
 Explanation given on the basis of meme
theory (by Dawkins)
 Evaluation of good and bad aspects
Denett on religion
 Part I: Opening Pandora's Box
Relationship of science and religion
 Part II: The Evolution of Religion
 Part III: Religion Today
What should be done to stop religious
Breaking which spell?
 The story of the suicidal ant and the lancet fluke,
a small worm
 There are many ideas to die for protecting
(other animals protect food, cubs or habitat only)
The curious example of the dog (domestication)
 Ideas are not intelligent themselves- why should
they cause others to kill
Neither are lancet flukes and the wings of
Breaking which spell?
 Religion
Social systems
 Participants avow belief
 In supernatural agents OR
 Agents whose approval is to be sought
Elvis Presley fan club is not one
Need not be anthropomorphic
 Jehova exists in real-time according to some accounts
and not real.time according to others
If prayer is a symbolic activity, not addressed to anyone, it
is not part of religion
 Maybe this is the origin of religion
 Some rituals can pass to non-religious (Santa Claus or
Private religions – spiritual in his terms, not religious
Black magic and satanist cults
 They are not religions, because no one thinks so??
Buddhism & Confucianism (again a contradiction)
Breaking which spell?
 Breaking the spell – of religion
 The analogy of the men with a cell phone in the
 Religion as a potentially evil spell – Sharin gas
attack, 9/11
Other ones mentioned:
 Drugs
 Gambling
 Alcohol
 Child pornography
Addiction? – life without it is not worth living
 Excessive physical or psychological dependence
(conversation? Communication?)
Breaking which spell?
 Wouldn’t an extensive and invasive examination
destroy the phenomenon itself?
Nobody knows the answer – incl.Denett
Endangered species – often become extinct
because of capturing them to breed – which they
don’t in captivity
Isolated people are often changed if studied by
Cadavres were prohibited to study – medicine
started off, when they did
Alfred Kinsey’s study of Human sexual behaviour
– myths dispelled – it improved sex life
 although consider „free love”
Breaking which spell?
 Reformulating the category names
Gays and straights (and not glum)
Bright and … supers? (from supernatural)
 Philip Tetlock’s sacred values
You’re money or your life!
I’m thinking, I’m thinking!
Aside – mugging becomes lucrative..
Breaking which spell?
 Religion is a natural phenomena
 Not an opposition of culture
Of course it is cultural
Not an opposition of supernatural either
It is in the nature of the homo sapiens to
create religious memes
 New myths
 What about a Harry Potter day?
A new pretext to recieve presents!
Would you be in favour of inventing it?
Santa Claus - 1985
Some questions about science
 Basically the same argument as Dawkins’ – and
Gould’s non-overlapping magisteria again
 It is possble to be neutral to religion
 The gap between mind sciences
(Geistwissenschaften) and nature sciences
(Naturwissenschaften) is narrowing (though not
yet disappeared)
Some questions about science
 Homo sapiens – the power of the source of prediction
 We can minimalize damages by preventing them – no
other species has been observed to do that (collecting
food is a general answer to periodic changes)
 Epidemics
 Economical crisis
 Hurricanes
 Can we prevent the next 9/11 by studying religion?
 What if music is bad for you?
 It can’t feed anyone or cure the ill…
 All he asks for is to study religion – f it turns out to be
bad, we need to think if it turns out to be good, atheist
attacks can be silenced
Why Good things happen
 Because of evolution…
 Footprintsof coyotes and dogs
 Why do coyotes howl?
 The homo sapiens sugar industry
Tons of sugar and its counterpart – obesity
clinics, toothpaste
Co-evolution of plant strategies to spread
and homo s. strategies to find energy source
The free-floating rationale
It is perfectly rational as a mechanism, but
nobody – including the participants – is
aware, not conscious
i.e. you don’t need to understand it for it to
Why Good things happen
 The CUI BONO obsession
 No free luch – somebody has to benefit
 „Evolution is remarkably efficient in
sweeping pointless accidents off the
Remember the lancet fluke
And the toxoplasma gondii
 Which lives in rats, drives them reckless, so
they get eaten by cats, which is the only place
they can reproduce
Sexual reproduction vs asexual –
 making offspring more inscrutable to parasites
– actually adaptation in general
 Parasites are in an arms race with hosts
Why Good things happen
 The Good Trick obsession
Anything that enhances fitness is a Good
 Flight and eyes were invented repeatedly over
the course of evolution
Religion takes time & energy, both valuable
and finite resources -> it must be a Good
Trick -> cui bono?
Free-floating rationale works with culture too
– that is a meme
 You don’t have to understand the shape of the
boat in terms of biodynamics it it is a tradition
(N.B. is this true for modern science ?)
Why Good things happen
 The CUI BONO of religion
The sweet tooth theory
Religion is good for us – just as sugar is –
and we have developed a taste for it
And just as sugar – saccharine – it can be
The Symbiont Theories
The lancet fluke theory
Primarily it is not the Homo S that religion is
good for
 Mutualists
 Commensals
 Parasites
Hundred trillion cells – 90%
not human cells
Why Good things happen
 The CUI BONO of religion
 Sexual selection
 The Peacock’s tail theory
 Runaway selection
 A whim of females?
Fitness indicator
 Not a whim a sign of health
 Faithfulness
 Intelligence – music
Group selection
 People with religion were more altruistic in
necessary cases – better survival in rough times
The pearl theory – spandrels in a cathedral
 A beautiful by-product
 Does not enhance anything, it is an objet trouvé
The roots of religion
 Historians „There have always been
Dennett: that only means religion is more
ancient than history writing
 The CARGO cults & Melanesians –
shows the formation of new religions
The John Frum cult
The Pomio Kivung cult
The roots of religion
 Formation of new religions goes at an
astounding pace
2-3 created every day
Average lifetime is less than a decade
 Religions – as known today – are relatively
young historically compared to other cultural
Christianity – cca. 2,000 years
Judaism – cca. 4,000 years
Writing – cca. 5,000 years
Agriculture – cca. 40,000
Language – cca. 35,000 - ?
The roots of religion
Psychological explanations – raisons
To confort
To explain the unexplainable
Encourage group cohesion
Premature curiosity satisfaction (Dennett
– the hows and whys)
The roots of religion
Modules that are
Pascal Boyer
Agent detector
Movements –
categorizing them
•Useful if you need to find agentive
entities in a noisy background
Biological motion
• based on a few dots
• it does not work upside
• pattern of activity
• gender!
The roots of religion
HADD – Hyperactive Agent Detector
Device (Justin Barrett)
Signal detection theory and game theory
Is this noise a tiger?
I think it is
It really is
False alarm
The roots of religion
HADD – Hyperactive Agent Detector
Device (Justin Barrett)
Better safe than sorry
Missing a signal is more expensive than
a false alarm
the sun smiles at you
There are spirits in every tree
My computer hates me…
The less predictable something is, the
more you tend to attribute intentions to it
Practical animism – flowers and river
The roots of religion
Rain dances – impractical animism
(at least without proper meteorological
Skinner, B.F.
Pigeon superstition
Random reinforcement
Elaborate dances
The roots of religion
Successful memes
Some counterintuitive ideas are more
interesting than others
Invisible person?
Living dead?
Invisible axe with no handle?
Axe made of cheese?
Contradict only one or two biases – but in
other ways they fot the schema
Often concerned with animacy
Proto-meme – obsessional thought
Do not miss the circular argument – again…
The roots of religion
Supernormal stimuli – success?
Tinbergen – the gull and the orange spot
Humans love to surround theselves with
supernormal stimuli
Music – rather pure sounds than noise
Pure vowels – melody
Pure consonants – rhythm
Pure coloured pictures - art
Bilateral symmetry
It is only characteristic when the other
faces you
Sign of health!
The roots of religion
 „But the bogeyman under your bed is not yet
 You need to believe that they exist!
Non-referential names abound
 Cinderella
 Unicorns
Flying carpets
The roots of religion
Strategic information = theory of mind = intentional
Homo s. obsessed with societal relationships and
other minds (remember their group size!)
Stories – learn about the intentions and beliefs
of others = gossip
A Full Access Agent?
In traditions it is often ancestral figures
Parents seem like that to children
Freud – Father Figure mythic struggles
Not necessarily omniscient – if you lost your
knife vs. You left it at the crime scene (strategic
information only)
They became omniscient later on (Boyer)
The roots of religion
Why are parents like full access agents?
Precocial species
less prone to epigeneic effects
Altricial species
Prolonged paternal care & training – extended
information transmission
Informational superhighways
is everything needed to be coded in the
Presupposed regularities
Gravity, salinity, electromagnetic wave spectrum,
composition of atmosphere
Instructional pathyway
The roots of religion
 Coevolution of cuteness – altricial species
 Humans
 Dinosaurs - fossils
 Mickey Mouse
The roots of religion
 Coevolution of hones information - teaching
 It is in the best interest of parents to inform
and not misinform
 It is in the best interests of children to listen
and be obedient
 Authority figures often have hypnotical
The roots of religion
 Suppose there is a Full Access Agent – you need a wa to
know what he knows
 Divination!
Flip a coin –
More serious rituals
take away the responsability – and the acrimony of
bad decisions
Tea leaves
Melted wax pored into water
exopsycic methods of decision making
The idea of randomness is relatively new
The roots of religion
 Decision making
 Maybe people just need a placebo effect of
support from their ancestors – (remember
what we said about the consciousness of
decision making!)
 Skeptics are spoiling the fun
The roots of religion
 Shamans and rituals – it actually works
 Jared Diamond – we have discovered all
edible plants (even if preparation needed)
and most medical plants
 Ritual healing : Psychological/hypnotic effect
– usually called placebo today
 Shamanic treatment is correlated with
patient hypnotizability
 Childbirth! Direct connection to evolution
The roots of religion
 Why are we susceptible to hypnotizing effects at
Humphrey (2002) economic resource
 Body has its own cures : fever, vomiting, pain,
immune system
 However this is costly
 Stress reduces the possibility of these responses
– energy is needed for immediate defense
against something else
 Only works if there is hope of curing
 Hypnosis creates both!
Shamanic healing – ancient health insurance!
The roots of religion
Rituals – functions
Shamanistic healing
Multilexing – creating a common memory
store to preserve knowledge
The more people know sg the less likely it
is that it is forgotten – repeating all over
Evans-Pritchard – shamans typically try to
enlist people from a young age to these
 Practitioners of folk religions do not go about
convincing each other of the existence of the
spirits – no more than we go about convincing
each other of the existence of germs, atoms,
oxigens or gravity
 How do you know? Best to rely on others about
Conducting R&D is expensive
Neolithic – agricultural revolution and population
boom – no time to theorize
 Separation of proto-science and proto-religion
 Unable to refute
 Invisible- cannot
 Ecplicit instructions not to
 Of sheep and men
 Domestication – caused a population growth in
both species
 Clear case of symbiosis
 Religion meme and its shepherds
 Teachers and priests keep religious and calculus
memes alive
 The memes keep them alive
 Dawkins’s idea on kleptocracy
 the entertwining of the political and religious
 Threat of an Ultimate Being
Studies of fanatism in
 Cross/culturally recurrent features of religion:
 communal participation in costly ritual
 belief in supernatural agents and
counterintuitive concepts
 separation of the sacred and the profane
 adolescence as the critical life phase for the
transmission of religious beliefs and values
costliness of religious activities
 the four “B’s”
 religious belief
 behavior (rituals)
 badges (such as religious attire)
 bans (taboos)
 Sosis, 2006: honest signals
 costly religious demands are today increasing in many
communities throughout the world!
 kashrut (laws pertaining to edible food) among UltraOrthodox Jews are more stringent now than at any time
 multicultural openness of Western societies
 in-group cohesion requires that groups increase their
distinctiveness in order to preserve the relative
costliness of the group’s previous bans and badges
 the universal features of religious terrorists is a strong
rejection of Western multiculturalism!
 video testaments - undeniable contracts
 How could suicide terrorism be adaptive?
 suicide terrorism is likely to benefit the group - groups
deploying suicide terrorists tend to achieve their goals
 recoup their losses through benefits to their kin
 Palestinian suicide terrorists receive financial payments
(up to $10,000) for their martyred sons and daughters
 Israel’s policy of destroying suicide bomber’s homes !
 payoffs motivating suicide bombers are not material but
rather otherworldly
 72 virgins await a shahid
 Female martyrs are promised to be the chief of the virgins
and exceed their beauty
Suicide terrorism
 Religious?
 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a
Marxist-Leninist group
 Bin Laden
local grievance (getting U.S. troops off
“Muslim” soil) into a cosmic clash between
Controversial ideas
 Palestinian suicide bombers have above average
education and are economically better off than the
general population
 no evidence of psychopathology in an international
sample of Muslim terrorists (not depressed)
 religion is the means by which terrorists translate a
local political struggle into a cosmic war – divine
Suicide terrorism
 Group cohesion?
 Conscious of death – anxious to defeat it
(cemeteries – exclusively human)?
Religion and morals
 The Ten commandments of Christianity
 The Qu’ran
 Moral Dilemmas
Development – Kohlberg
Moral dilemmas
 Two approaches
One emphasising development – Kohlberg
Moral stories - development
Another emphasising universality of morality
Moral relativity/subjectivity or universalism
Moral stories – universal patterns of answers
Kohlberg and his dilemmas
Hans, the pharmaceutist story
Level 1 (Pre-Conventional)
 1. Obedience and punishment orientation
 (How can I avoid punishment?)
2. Self-interest orientation
 (What's in it for me?)
Level 2 (Conventional)
 3. Interpersonal accord and conformity
 (Social norms) social relationships
 (The good boy/good girl attitude) – the golden rule – ToM!
4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation
 (Law and order morality) rigid dictums (Kantean imperatives)
Level 3 (Post-Conventional)
 5. Social contract orientation
 6. Universal ethical principles
 (Principled conscience)
Universal moral grammar
 Certain actions are prohibited in all cultures
 Intuitive jurisprudence is very similar to a well-developed legal
 3-4 years
5-6 years
Use intent or purpose to evaluate an action that has the same
Genuine violations – violations of social conventions (battery vs
wearing pyjamas to school)
Distinguish between false factual beliefs and false moral beliefs
Purpusful: dullus directus (want), dullus eventualis (don’t
mind (stealing a bag with ID card))
Non-purpuseful: luxuria (consciousness), negligentia
(unconsious) - taking into account individual abilities
Uncle Joseph falling in the pit
 The trolley and other dilemmas
 Universal moral codes
 Poverty of stimulus
Battery as means vs battery as side effect
Other considerations
 Personal vs impersonal attacks
 Using fellow men as „tools” – not living
 Scripts activated as a basis for the event
Structural grammar
 Variation is still too big compared to meta-
linguistic judgements
 In some cases you do have „gut feelings”, but
in others you just have to think (Dupoux)
The essential
Some background for theory of mind
 “I know you think you understand what
you thought I said, but I don’t think you
realise that what you heard was not what I
 ~ Daniel Greenspan
 Theory of Mind (ToM):
The ability to understand that others have
beliefs, desires and intentions that are
different from one's own. (David Premack and
G. Woodruff, 1978)
Three questions:
•Do animals have TOM?
•When do children start to have ToM?
•What is the mechanism of origin of ToM?
Chimps have shown evidence of
culture, imitation, deception, and selfawareness in both the wild and in
controlled experiments
• complex, shifting social coalitions
• hide objects to deceive others
• occasionally use naturally occurring
gestures to direct behaviors of partners
• brush lipstick from own forehead
• captive chimps point when interacting
with humans
• hide objects from others
But do these behaviors show ToM?
• never use gestures to solicit help or
direct attention of another, even with
extensive training
• notice the regularities in behaviors of
others, not mental states when they
• do not follow gaze of others and
oblivious to attentional state of others
• experimentally shown not to
understand that people have to see them
to respond to a begging gesture … until
they were adults (over age 11)
Gergely & Csibra
First-Order False Belief
The ability to infer one person’s mental state. In this
case, the child recognizes that Little Red Riding Hood
thinks that it is her grandmother in the bed, but the
child knows it is really the wicked wolf. Typically
developing children recognize this by 4 yrs; m.a.
matched children with autism instead report what they
themselves know; may pass it at older m.a..
Sally Anne False Belief Task
The Sally-Anne
task is usually
administered using
puppets or dolls.
Like all False Belief
tasks it requires the
child to take the
perspective of
another, and to
answer questions
based on what the
other person knows.
1) Sally plays with her ball, puts it in a basket. 2) Then she leaves.
3) Anne moves the ball to a box. 4) Where will Sally look for it?
Where does Anne think Sally will look for the ball?
Rizzolatti (2002) recorded from the ventral premotor area of the
frontal lobes of monkeys and found that certain cells will fire
when a monkey performs a single, highly specific action with its
hand: pulling, pushing, tugging, grasping, picking up and putting
a peanut in the mouth etc. Different neurons fire in response to
different actions.
The essential idea in ToM:
Link first–person and third person experiences
HUmans respond to mimicked movements as well! – fMRI
15% of neurons that respond to action sound scenes (cracking peanuts,
tearing paper apart) respond to sound alone as well.
Simon Baron-Cohen
 The female and male brain types
The other side – social constructionists
 Sex might be biological – but gender is entirely
 Talking about gender is like fish talking about water
 Gender is one of the major ways that humans
organize their lives:
Division of labour
Allocation of scarce goods
Assigned responsability for taking care of children
Choosing people for a job : ageism and sexism exist in
all cultures
We are not animals
 Rituals – animals have none
Some of these create gender – different for
men and women
 Incest taboos in H.S.
 Dominance hierarchies- based not on
physical power, but on other things – control
of surplus food, etc.
 Mating feeding nurturing
In animals its inborn, in humans its learned
Gender transgression – construction!
 Some societies have three genders
Berdache, hijra, yanith – biologically male, but
treated as women
Manly hearted women
 Western society:
Women fighting in wars
Gender bending
 Homo sapiens shows very little physical difference
between the sexes
Needs identifying clothing, jewelry, hairstyles
Common gender misidentification with people in jeans
and T-shirts
Jan Morris Conundrum – easy to shift from one gender
to another
Queen Elisabeth and Saudi Arabia – an honorary man
Theater – Japanese kabuki or Shakespeare’s theatre
M Butterfly
Gender blenders
 Women with short hair, jeans, no jewelry, etc.
Sent out from ladies washrooms
 Tertiary sex characteristics
Children are taught, to walk, talk, eat and gesture according
to their biological sex
The accidental transsexual – the case of circumcision
Even bodies are formed
Chinese feet
Genitalia mutilations
 Parents create gender entire, with their behaviour to children
 The Baby X experiment – hypothetical
People’s perception of anger or sadness of them if they cry!
 Sameness taboo
Women in the military are required to wear
make-up and skirts at balls
 Gender differences in society
Work and wages (transsexuals)
Prestige of a job (Russian doctors)
Learned helplessness (opening doors for
 Freudian psychoanalytic theory
Oedipous conflict
 The Maxist explanation
Keep them in the dark
 Szendi:
Evolutionary strategy – control over the very
scarce resource of reproduction! 
„Harry Potter is a sexist,
Rosie Ivády
 Women
The universal second race
 Rarely in power – secondary positions
 Homogenic group compared to men (well
 Some argue this is an accident and women are portrayed
 // that of course depends very much on what you
consider positive
, 2008-10-04
Sexist- Heads of House
Filius Flitwick
Severus Snape
Albus Dumbledore
Severus Snape
?Minerva McGonagall?
 Pomona Sprout
 Minerva McGonagall
(that only becomes clear
in later interviews)
Sexist – main characters – the Dark
Side and the Light Side
Amycus Carrow?
Fenrir Greyback
Lucius Malfoy
Draco Malfoy
Severus Snape
Albus Dumbledore
Harry Potter
Ron Weasley
Bellatrix Lestrange,
Alecto Carrow
Narcissa Malfoy?
Minerva McGonagall
Hermione Granger
 Conservative?
I take as „adherent to traditions”
Hogwarts is the very symbol of traditions
Harry Potter – constant evasion to a
Golden age past –family reunion
FAMILY itself is central
Consider the Weasleys – the ideal family with
traditional roles
Potter family – and Auror and a ???
Aurors in general are men – except for N.
Consider Hogwarts as a quasi-family. /Your
house is going to be like your family here./
 Political power in the hands of a single self-appointed ruler
 Harry Potter by the end of the series
 It is rather an oligarchy, a triumvirate ruling over the fate of
the world (no cooperation with the ministry, does not tell
ANYone what he is doing, battle scene)
 Autoritarian in sociopsychological sense – group leading
 Only in the 7th book.
 6th – rather ridiculized because on his idea on Malfoy (which
in case turns to be true), but by the end already orders
people around
 1-4th Harry-Hermione division
„Harry Potter is a sexist,
No good answer – please rely on your own
common sense.
Thank you for your attention!
This presentation would not have been possible without the ingeniously
fantasy-rich schematic work of J.K. Rowling. I thank her for the inspiration.