The first official publication of the "Modeling Religion Project" has just become available online - "Modeling Terror Management Theory: Computer Simulations of the Impact of Mortality Salience on Religiosity."
The article was co-authored by several members of the research team (yours truly, Justin E. Lane, Wesley J. Wildman, Saikou Diallo, Christopher J. Lynch & Ross Gore).
ABSTRACT: "This article outlines the development – and reports on the experimental findings – of two computational models designed to simulate the dynamic systems and behavioural patterns identified and clarified by research on terror management theory. The causal architectures of these models are informed by empirical research on the effects of mortality salience on “religiosity” (and vice versa). They are also informed by research on the way in which perception of personal and environmental hazards activate evolved cognitive and coalitional precautionary systems that can intensify anxiety-alleviating behaviours such as imaginative engagement with supernatural agents postulated within a religious coalition. The capacity of the models to produce emergent patterns and behaviours that are similar to the results of other empirical studies supports the plausibility of their causal architectures. After tracing some of the literature that supports the causal dynamics of our models, we present the two models, describe the experiments, and report the results. We conclude by discussing the importance of the findings, the limitations of the models, and directions for future research."
The following announcement is for a position at CMAC in Boston. The post-doctoral fellow would be part of the international team that collaborates with us here at the Modeling Religion in Norway (MODRN) project.
"The Center for Mind and Culture (CMAC) is a non-profit think tank conducting non-partisan research into aspects of the mind-culture nexus (see www.mindandculture.org). CMAC is seeking a post-doctoral research fellow expert in modeling and simulation and interested in applying those techniques to religious cognition and behavior, immigration and integration, and related areas. Java and NetLogo are the principle coding languages in use on this project. Also desirable are statistical skills in dataset and network analysis, so established skills in R and SEM would be helpful. This post-doctoral fellow will be based in Boston and would join an active international team of researchers, helping to train graduate students. The position begins immediately and runs through June 30, 2018, when grant funding expires. The salary is $50,000 per annum with standard CMAC benefits, including health insurance assistance and retirement contributions. Applicants should be US citizens or those with prior permission to work in the USA that extends through June 30, 2018. For more information about the funded project, see the Modeling Religion Project at CMAC's website dedicated to the scientific study of religion: www.ibcsr.org. Applicants should email an application letter, a cv, and three letters of reference to Mary Williams at the Center for Mind and Culture (email@example.com). Consideration of applications begins April 1, 2017 and continues until an appointment is made."
Over the last few years, the island of Lesbos has been significantly impacted by the refugee crisis, and government officials and NGOs continue to work together to improve the conditions and serve the needs of the ongoing tide of hopeful immigrants.
After interacting with local stakeholders, our research team will meet together for a week to develop (at least) four computational models that can shed light on the complex dynamics involved in the migration of peoples of different faiths into contexts that are often characterized by secularization.
16 members of the MODRN project team will work in small groups to explore four phases of the immigration process: (1) the displacement of refugees, (2) the initial integration of immigrants in a host country, (3) second-generation immigrant integration, and (4) the longer-term processes of acculturation once an ethnic or religious group settles within a larger population.
Our goal is to construct multi-agent artificial intelligence models, with architectures based on the integration of empirically validated theories of intergroup religious conflict and acculturation, which can be used to simulate the relevant social dynamics within an "artificial society."
If successful, these simulations will help policy-makers (governments, NGOs, etc.) to evaluate and adjudicate between competing policies for promoting healthy and peaceful intergroup interactions throughout the various phases of the immigration process.