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And now a word on religion from crackpot neuroscience…

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From ScienceDaily:

Belief in God and prejudice reduced by directing magnetic energy into the brain

The findings, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, reveal that people in whom the targeted brain region was temporarily shut down reported 32.8% less belief in God, angels, or heaven. They were also 28.5% more positive in their feelings toward an immigrant who criticised their country. Dr Izuma, from the University’s Department of Psychology, said: “People often turn to ideology when they are confronted by problems. We wanted to find out whether a brain region that is linked with solving concrete problems, like deciding how to move one’s body to overcome an obstacle, is also involved in solving abstract problems addressed by ideology.”

This interest in the brain basis of ideology led the team to focus on religion and nationalism.

Dr Izuma added: “We decided to remind people of death because previous research has shown that people turn to religion for comfort in the face of death. As expected, we found that when we experimentally turned down the posterior medial frontal cortex, people were less inclined to reach for comforting religious ideas despite having been reminded of death.” More.

I guess they had to do something to compete with the God helmet, right?

See also: Go to church? You’re infected with a devout microbe

The problem is, this stuff, like evolutionary psychology, is nearly impossible to spoof. The best one could manage is likely a Sokal hoax, but the right person might find it fun.

See also: Evolutionary conundrum: is religion a useful, useless, or harmful adaptation?


Imagine a world of religions that naturalism might indeed be able to explain

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BA77 at 6, Somewhat related to death bed visions is the recently discovered phenomenon of induced after death communication and more specifically and especially, shared induced after death communication where two individuals, a patient and an empathetic observer, have a strikingly similar vision experience with a deceased loved one or victim of the patient. It is a close cousin of shared death experiences documented by Ray Moody. Allan Botkin appears to have discovered these shared experiences and discusses them in his book "Induced After Death Communication". My own feeling is that more research is required to confirm this but the two phenomena--shared death and shared induced after death experiences--seem to corroborate one another. nkendall
"study proves atheism uses less brain function" So atheists are brain damaged then? Hmmm. bFast
Actually News, this study, despite the materialistic spin they try to put on it, is VERY embarrassing for atheists:
Atheists embarrassed: study proves atheism uses less brain function – Oct 26, 2015 by Dr. Joel McDurmon Excerpt: This has to be embarrassing . . . if you’re an atheist. A new study performed at the University of York used targeted magnetism to shut down part of the brain. The result: belief in God disappeared among more than 30 percent of participants. That in itself may not seem so embarrassing, but consider that the specific part of the brain they frazzled was the posterior medial frontal cortex—the part associated with detecting and solving problems, i.e., reasoning and logic. In other words, when you shut down the part of the brain most associated with logic and reasoning, greater levels of atheism result. You’ve heard the phrase, “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist”? Apparently we can now also say, “I have too many brains to be an atheist.” For a group that makes so much noise vaunting its superior prowess with logic and reasoning, this study has got to be quite a deflator. For a group that claims to be rooted primarily in logic and reason, and to exist for little reason other than that they have used logic and reason to free themselves from belief in God and, as they allege, superstition and fairy tales, this study is the equivalent of a public depanting­—i.e., the would-be emperor’s got no clothes. http://americanvision.org/12630/atheists-embarrassed-study-proves-atheism-uses-less-brain-function/
And no, the preceding study did not show how logic and reasoning, specifically free will, can possibly be grounded in materialism. It merely showed, as has been known all along by people who debate atheists, that atheism is not rooted in logic and reasoning but is rooted in emotion
Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012 Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause. By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/11/sam_harriss_fre066221.html When Atheists Are Angry at God – 2011 Excerpt: I’ve never been angry at unicorns. It’s unlikely you’ve ever been angry at unicorns either.,, The one social group that takes exception to this rule is atheists. They claim to believe that God does not exist and yet, according to empirical studies, tend to be the people most angry at him. http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2011/01/when-atheists-are-angry-at-god Study explores whether atheism is rooted in reason or emotion – Jan. 2015 Excerpt: “A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of this recent study, has examined other data on this subject with identical results. Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.” https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/just-for-fun/fun-study-explores-whether-atheism-is-rooted-in-reason-or-emotion/
Semi OT:
Near-death experiences: Visions of dead loved ones at end of life 'are comforting part of dying process' - Hannah Osborne - October 26, 2015 Excerpt: Visions and dreams of deceased friends and relatives in the final weeks of life are a "comforting" part of the dying process, a study has found. Scientists from The Palliative Care Institute in Buffalo and the Canisius College in New York were studying the phenomenon of end-of-life dreams and visions (ELDVs), which are well documented throughout history and cultures, but have been little studied in scientific literature. The most common ELDVs reported by people close to death describe them seeing deceased family, friends or religious figures. These visions and dreams take place in the months, weeks, days and hours leading up to death. Publishing their study in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, researchers were looking to work out the frequency of dreams and visions by looking at the content and subjective significance of them, while also examining these factors in relation to how close they were experienced before death. Unlike other research into ELDVs that focuses on retrospective information from family members and healthcare providers, the team interviewed 66 patients receiving end-of-life care at the Palliative Care Center, part of Hospice Buffalo. They were asked daily about the content, frequency and comfort level of their ELDVs. Most patients at reported having at least one vision or dream every day. Half of these occurred when the patient was asleep, and all said the ELDVs felt real. Most often, people reported dreams and visions with dead and living friends and relatives. However, they found the visions with the deceased friends, relatives and pets were far more comforting than those with the living. "As participants approached death, comforting dreams/visions of the deceased became more prevalent," the team wrote. The team says the ELDVs are an important source of meaning and comfort to the dying and should be studied further for their beneficial effect on palliative care: "The impact of pre-death experiences on dying individuals and their loved ones can be profoundly meaningful... These visions can occur months, weeks, days, or hours before death and typically lessen fear of dying, making transition from life to death easier for those experiencing them." Study author James P Donnelly said: "This study demonstrates that ELDVs are commonly experienced and characterized by a consistent pattern of realism and emotional significance. These dreams and visions may improve quality of life and should be treated accordingly." http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/near-death-experiences-visions-dead-loved-ones-end-life-are-comforting-part-dying-process-1525704 End-of-Life Dreams and Visions: A Longitudinal Study of Hospice Patients' Experiences - March 2014 Conclusions: ELDVs are commonly experienced phenomena during the dying process, characterized by a consistent sense of realism and marked emotional significance. These dreams/visions may be a profound source of potential meaning and comfort for the dying, and therefore warrant clinical attention and further research. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/jpm.2013.0371
This demonstrates the opposite of what the authors appear to be contending. First off, we all know that our views on things ebb and flow based on various biological influences. If I go out for a run, I have fewer worries. If I have a few margaritas on a Friday after work, fewer worries still and my views on things can change at least temporarily. So what? That's been known ever since humans have existed. Here is why the study regarding magnets demonstrates the opposite of what the authors appear to contend. Were I to blast a video circuit board on a gaming system with 200v/m electro-magnetic interference, I would not expect nuance and subtle changes in the way the game worked. I would expect disruption--noise. Minds are resilient. Brains, were we to adopt the materialist, computational model of human thought, would not allow for nuance. nkendall
Hilarious. Actually they are just being dumbed or stunned. An immigrant putting down the country/people who let him into their home being warmingly received by the zapped person is proof positive they would also load his bombs in their car. In fact alcohol will do the same thing. Robert Byers
I've got an idea. Let's do the same experiment on the area of the brain connected to Materialism and see how those beliefs are affected! tjguy
Heh. I've already seen this work referenced on this very site a couple times. daveS
The previous account of this story came via a fundamentalist Christian website and the Daily Mail, neither known for top-notch science coverage as far as I know. Part of the brain was not "shut down". Observed electrical activity in that area was reduced in the presence of a magnetic field. This was correlated with the changes in attitude reported by the subjects. Correlation is not necessarily the same as causation. Another interpretation of the results could be that the brain has to work harder to maintain religious beliefs (making agnosticism/atheism the default position?) and reduced religious belief is correlated with greater tolerance towards people of different nationalities and cultures. Perhaps this is a field of research to which the proponents of ID could contribute. Researchers at the Biologic Institute could attempt to replicate the results by inviting ID proponents to volunteer for a similar study. A weak magnetic field could be applied to the frontal regions of their brains to see if it changed the strength of their commitment to their beliefs. Good science is partly about replication, after all. Seversky

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