Here’s an interesting post from The Economist. They had interviewed random people in New York and New England where they had presented them with a few short stories about a guy named ‘David’. Well, David, being a horrible driver, gets into a car accident. In one scenario David lives, another, he dies, and the third, he recovers but is in a ‘Persistent Vegetative State’ -aka zombie.
So the people they surveyed rated David’s hypothetical mental acuity after each scenario from 3 to -3.
Alive David = 1.77
Dead David = -0.29
Zombie David = -1.73
Which concludes that people think the David that actually DIED has more brainpower than Zombie David. Peculiar…..
This was equally true, regardless of how religious a participant said he was. However, ratings of the dead David’s mind in the story in which his corpse was embalmed and buried varied with the participant’s religiosity.
Irreligious participants gave the buried corpse about the same mental ratings as the vegetative patient (-1.51 and -1.64 respectively). Religious participants, however, continued to ascribe less mind to the irretrievably unconscious David than they did to his buried corpse (-1.57 and 0.59).
That those who believe in an afterlife ascribe mental acuity to the dead is hardly surprising. That those who do not are inclined to do so unless heavily prompted not to is curious indeed.