By Golly, I’ve Begun a Blog!

Welcome to A Theory of Mind.



A bit about the blogger: I am Erika Salomon, a graduate student in social psychology at the University of Illinois. Before starting my current program, I studied English as an undergraduate, worked as a tutor and education research assistant, and earned a master’s degree in cognition and culture. My current academic work focuses on how people think about religious ideas and how this influences belief and behavior. I chose to study religion because it is one of the most important and interesting human activities and because it interacts with other important domains of human life, such as morality, politics, and social relationships. Thus, research on religion is often relevant to much more of our social world than “just” religion.

One of my cats. Likes to attack things on the internet.

One of my cats. Likes to attack things on the internet.

Another bit about the blog: It’s hard to predict right now exactly what will happen on this blog, so I won’t promise an update schedule or list of topics. These will likely change anyway, depending on my own interests and those of anyone who reads this thing (what we English majors call “the audience”–but that sounds way too presumptuous to describe the three people who will read my blog [me, my husband, and maybe one of my cats]). That said, I intend to write mostly about the science of religion for non-scientist readers. This might include summaries of psychological research on how people behave when they think God is watching them, anthropological work on local religious traditions, demographic research on which religions have the most babies, or any number of other topics. Of course, “religion” is hard to isolate from all of the other things we humans do, so these posts will be accompanied by commentary on how all of this academic work helps us understand everyday social interaction. I also hope to apply scientific research to understanding current events (like the recent Rapture that didn’t happen).

I hope you enjoy reading along–aw heck, really, I just hope you read at all… or that anyone does for that matter! Feedback of all kinds (including compliments, suggestions for topics, and even angry rants) is welcomed and encouraged.


8 Comments to “By Golly, I’ve Begun a Blog!”

  1. Hi Erika and welcome to the blogging world! We all have different reasons for blogging, but I can tell you that it can be an exceptionally useful tool for graduate work. Why create a database for your research when you can actually write it up and put it all in your blog? Best thing I have ever done. Okay, maybe not the best, but it is up there. Hope to see you around, both here and over at my site.

    • Thanks, Cris! I love your blog and am flattered you stopped by to say ‘hi.” The encouragement helps–really! I admit to being absolutely terrified of all the mistakes I will make along the way. But I am also looking forward to interesting discussions that will help me understand research better and do better research myself.

      • Ah, the Kierkegaard in you! The good thing about a blog is that you can test your ideas and play with words in a non-terrifying way. We all sometimes post things that we later regret, which is why it is a good idea never to drink and post!

        Other than that, you should register your blog with Research Blogging; it takes them about a week to review your blog and grant posting privileges, but it is a great way to advertise your site and work.

        Another way to get you jump started is to have you draft a guest post over at my blog, and I will use that to introduce my readers to your blog with an announcement and link. If you are interested, shoot an email to cris at genealogyreligion dot net

        Your lab looks quite interesting; I will confess to not having heard about it. I assume you studied with Jesse Bering?

    • Thanks for all of the advice! One of the great benefits of joining Twitter a few years ago was to meet people in my field, and, so far, blogging seems to be taking that to a new level! Your offer to guest post is very kind; I’d love to take you up on it. I’ll send you an email over the weekend.

      Perhaps I ought to read some Kierkegaard; sounds like a decent fellow. Any suggestions for a good work to start with?

      I will shamelessly admit that my lab is awesome. 🙂 And, yes, I studied with Jesse Bering at Queen’s. I’ve been very fortunate so far to work with excellent people there and here at Illinois. One thing I learned at Queen’s is how important it is for psychologists and anthropologists to work together, which is why I really enjoy your blog. (Your most recent post on animism is a great example.)

      • I feel like ought to link to your post on animism for anyone who stumbles on this conversation; it’s a great read!

      • Thanks for the kind blog compliments! I too think it exceptionally important for disciplines to transgress traditional boundaries, and work towards some kind of synthesis, however preliminary. It seems that a major failing of modern scholarship is the lack of syntheses that can be understood by the larger public or intelligent laypeople.

        As for Kierkegaard, the two recommendations would be “Either/Or” (his examination of hedonism/ethics) or “Fear and Trembling” (an early “existential” work that is overtly theological). The first might interest you more, given your interest in morality. Having said that, Kierkegaard is generally understudied and adding knowledge of his work to your personal repertoire is always a good thing.

        It is fantastic that you worked with Jesse Bering (whose work I much admire), and now you have a new Jesse. You seem to have a thing for Jesse(s).

        Did Jesse Preston work with Marc Hauser at Harvard? Her work on primes/morality looks like Hauser’s kind of thing.

        I look forward to your email. We can discuss whatever it is you would like to post, and we will of course cross post it at your blog.

  2. I ended up here via The Genealogy of Religion. Really interesting stuff – I hope you keep it up.

    • Thanks, Dan! Really glad you are enjoying it. I am already working on my next post (on how thinking about being watched makes us behave better). Of course, if there is anything you’re like to see me cover, just let me know.

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