- Charlotte Zemmel
What is the Glimpse Project?
WHAT IS IT?
It’s an experimental project to illuminate everybody’s beliefs in God or spirituality. We want to reveal what’s going on in people’s heads when it comes to believing in a God, or a higher spiritual power, or not.
Firstly, we are hoping to reveal lots of common threads and themes in what different people believe. We want to create a common-canvas of belief that’s shared by people from every religion, and shared between people who say they’re religious and people who say they’re not. Our hope is that this canvas could help to offer common-ground between people who disagree about religion, and be a new way to build understanding and empathy.
Secondly, we want to restore religious-belief into mainstream conversation - so religious belief gets talked about in everyday life and in culture/media in a similar way that football or the weather or health gets talked about. Religion and spirituality is part of people’s everyday experience of the world; so we want this project to help people be open and not feel stigma or awkwardness around their spiritual beliefs.
Thirdly, because we’re fascinated by spirituality’s power to bring people together and we’re curious to see where this project might lead. We want to get answers to some tough questions like:
When people pray, what kind of God are they thinking of?
For people who are “spiritual yearners”, what’s this yearning going towards?
Perhaps we’ll somehow “crowd-source” a new way to see God?
Could we make useful tools to help people deepen their religious-beliefs or stimulate their spiritual exploration?
We have a method that combines intuitive-ethnography with data-science. We’ve got a “magic-key” question that unlocks what people think about God/spirituality and then a way to ask that question to thousands of people, using AI and data-analysis to make sense of all the answers.
Here are the 3 steps in the method:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR GOD
To get an insight into people’s spiritual beliefs and attitudes, we’ll ask a “magic-key” question. Questions like this are often used in market research and ethnographic interviews to get to the core of what’s important to people about a difficult or hard to articulate topic. Our question is currently in “beta” version - i.e. it's working pretty well but we’re expecting to test and refine it more.
Try answering the question for yourself. Answer it quickly and in just a few words.
What did you answer?
Here’s what some other people have said - this is a sample of answers from our early-testing:
WHY IS NEIGHBOURLY LAB RUNNING THIS GLIMPSE PROJECT?
Neighbourly Lab is a non-profit research and evidence organisation focused on increasing social-connectedness.
Our organisation’s mission is to find innovative ways to massively increase the amount of social-connectedness in society today, i.e. to increase the contact and exposure in people’s lives to one another. Our methods to do this are:
To tilt the environments and contexts where people meet or mix, or where attitudes are shaped, towards more connection and contact.
To remove the separations and blockers that prevent people from meeting or mixing, or make it harder for people to recognise their equivalence.
Our work takes us into domain-areas such as shopping, social-media, mass-transit, healthcare and public-services.
We want to work in this area of religion because we believe we can bring about two effects that will each contribute to greater social-connectedness:
Make religious-belief a source of common-ground and interest between people. It can and should be a unifier, letting strangers find common-interest and purpose (in a similar way to how sport is).
Neutralise the divisive power of religion; stop it being a tool for bad-actors to use to exacerbate out-group prejudice.
MORE YOU CAN READ ABOUT THE GLIMPSE PROJECT
Here are some links. Starting with an informal intro and then providing details of the methodology.
Four metaphors to explain the intellectual foundations of the Glimpse Project
A personal account about the genesis of our Glimpse thinking from Harry Hobson (one of the Directors here at Neighbourly Lab) – about how his religious questioning and faith led to the inception of the Glimpse Project
Detail about the “Magic Key” method we’re using in the Glimpse Project
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