Science supporting Jesus?

There is this idea in our culture that if you are angry then you need to pop off or let of steam.  This idea excuses a number of behaviors of people in relationships.  I cannot express how many people I hear (myself included) say, "I just needed to get this off my chest" or "I just need to yell and get this anger out."  If you have ever thought that popping off in order to release steam then you too have, at least one time, bought into the idea that letting off steam alleviates anger.

And it does.  Which is why we do it.

The issue is that letting off steam in this way may make us feel better but it never stops us from having to let of more steam in the future.

Take this little bit from You are Not so Smart.  Please note that it takes a bit of set up to get to the interesting stuff, but we have to see the set up before we can get into it.  So first the set up:

"In the 1990s, psychologist Brad Bushman at Iowa State decided to study whether or not venting actually worked. He divided 180 students into 3 groups. One group read a neutral article. One group read an article about a fake study that said venting anger was effective. The third group read about a fake study that said venting was pointless. He then had students write essays for or against abortion, a subject about which they probably had strong feelings. He told them the essays would be graded by fellow students, but they weren't.  When the students got their essays back, half were told their essays were superb. The other half had this scrawled across the paper: "This is one of the worst essays I have ever read!" Bushman then asked the subjects to pick an activity like playing a game, watching some comedy, reading a story, or punching a bag. The results? The people who read the article that said venting worked, and who later got angry, were far more likely to ask to punch the bag than those who got angry in the other groups. In all the groups., the people who got praised tended to pick non-aggressive activities."

No big shocker there.  When we are told by an authority that some behavior is good/not good for us then we tend to heed that advice.  While this is no surprise, it might be worth taking note that this also creates feedback loops.  If we are told "venting" is good then we will more likely seek out opportunities to do it, and if we are told "venting" is not good then we will seek out other ways to deal with anger.  

Now onto the interesting part in which another experiment is created like the first but with a twist, in which the group that was told their essay was the worst essay the grader ever read was then divided in half and and were told they were going to have to compete against the person who graded their essay. "One group first had to punch a bag, and the other group had to sit and wait for two minutes. After punching and waiting, the competition began. The game was simple: Press a button as fast as you can. If you lose, you get blasted with a horrible noise. When you win, your opponent gets blasts. The students could set the volume the other person had to endure, a setting between zero and ten, with ten being 105 decibels. Can you predict what they discovered? On average, the punching bag group set the volume as high as 8.5. The time-out group set it to 2.47. The people who got angry didn't release their anger on the punching bag-their anger was sustained by it."

This may be common sense to you.  It may not be. For generations Christianity has taught about loving the neighbor who is sometimes also your enemy. Forgiveness is critical to the life of the Christian. Jesus is said to have spoken words of forgiveness while on the cross. 

It is good to see that science is catching up :)