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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia has shown that religious fundamentalism is, in part, the result of a functional impairment in a brain region known as the prefrontal cortex. The findings suggest that damage to particular areas of the prefrontal cortex indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by diminishing cognitive flexibility and openness -- a psychology term that describes a personality trait which involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness. Religious beliefs can be thought of as socially transmitted mental representations that consist of supernatural events and entities assumed to be real. Religious beliefs differ from empirical beliefs, which are based on how the world appears to be and are updated as new evidence accumulates or when new theories with better predictive power emerge.


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On the other hand, religious beliefs are not usually updated in response to new evidence or scientific explanations, and are therefore strongly associated with conservatism. They are fixed and rigid, which helps promote predictability and coherence to the rules of society among individuals within the group.


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Religious fundamentalism refers to an ideology that emphasizes traditional religious texts and rituals and discourages progressive thinking about religion and social issues. Fundamentalist groups generally oppose anything that questions or challenges their beliefs or way of life. For this reason, they are often aggressive towards anyone who does not share their specific set of supernatural beliefs, and towards science, as these things are seen as existential threats to their entire worldview.

#1 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2019-01-08 10:13 PM | Reply

Explains trumpers.
Do they qualify for Americans with disabilities benefits?

#2 | Posted by bored at 2019-01-08 11:14 PM | Reply


Confederate Americans are not eligible for ADA benefits.

#3 | Posted by IndianaJones at 2019-01-08 11:23 PM | Reply

It's all the mental gymnastics that they have to do in order to believe that hocus pocus nonsense. That's what's damaging their brain.

#4 | Posted by lfthndthrds at 2019-01-09 08:23 AM | Reply

Very good article.

#5 | Posted by kudzu at 2019-01-09 08:30 AM | Reply

I'm no fan of the religious at all but I give this article as much credence as I give boaz's girly-man socialist article.

#6 | Posted by qcp at 2019-01-09 08:53 AM | Reply

ISIS, Al Queda, Taliban

Liberty University, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham

Two sides of the same coin.

#7 | Posted by Nixon at 2019-01-09 01:20 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

The biggest ------- cop out lie in the universe is "God's will" to explain away ------ things.

A two year old gets cancer? "Gods will"

It's all just rationalization baloney to explain away the fact that the air and water are so polluted by greedy businesses that it caused the cancer. It's easier to pin it on God than hold the polluters accountable. Every damn time and the sheep lap it up.

#8 | Posted by Nixon at 2019-01-09 01:25 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

ISIS, Al Queda, Taliban
Liberty University, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham
Two sides of the same coin.


And 2 Corinthians.

#9 | Posted by oldwhiskeysour at 2019-01-09 01:26 PM | Reply

I know two people that were in separate bad car accidents and recovered as nutso Christians. I figured they just saw their mortality more and couldn't cope, or that their parents who helped them a lot through their recoveries managed to brainwash them as their brains recovered. But maybe it's just the permanent brain damage they suffered that made them susceptible to it.

#10 | Posted by Snowfake at 2019-01-09 08:45 PM | Reply

I know one who decided to find Jesus instead of kill himself.

I mean, I'm not going to second-guess him on that, but I'm pretty sure he made the right decision!

#11 | Posted by snoofy at 2019-01-09 09:09 PM | Reply

Fun fact.

Raw story has such a hate of religion they refused to host even a single article about all the sexual harassment in the American anti-theist movement.

#12 | Posted by Tor at 2019-01-09 09:29 PM | Reply

I think it is important to note that the conclusion refers to religious fundamentalists, not on all believers.

#13 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2019-01-09 10:45 PM | Reply

This is something I've also wondered about:

"And perhaps in other cases, extreme religious indoctrination harms the development or proper functioning of the prefrontal regions in a way that hinders cognitive flexibility and openness."

This makes sense to me because if you think the same any kind of thoughts over and over again you develop encoded neural pathways, which in turn make it easier to continue to think the same thoughts over and over again. This is the basis of indoctrination. Also cult-like behavior. I wonder if religious mystics, who are kind of the opposites of religious fundamentalists, evidence the same cognitive impairment, i.e. lack of cognitive flexibility and openness? I'd be surprised if they do, especially if they practice meditation on a regular basis.

#14 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2019-01-09 11:31 PM | Reply

Go to the source, don't bother with Raw Story and their systemic bigotry.

#15 | Posted by Tor at 2019-01-09 11:42 PM | Reply

"A new study finds a connection between brain lesions and the ability of a person to consider other beliefs.

The scientists specify that they are not stating religious people overall are mentally inflexible or that belief is caused by brain damage. There are many cognitive processes involved in forming beliefs. But in some people, the system of "belief revision" may become suppressed due to brain damage.

The scientists themselves point out the limitations of their study and call for more research into the subject. Grafman notes the fact that the sample was all male American veterans, certainly not representative of all demographic and cultural groups."


Of course, there are studies, and then there are other studies....

"Various experiments have also tried to elucidate whether believing in God causes similar brain changes as believing in something else. The results, so far, show that thinking about God may activate the same parts of the brain as thinking about an airplane, a friend or a lamppost."

Research also suggests that a religious brain exhibits higher levels of dopamine, a hormone associated with increased attention and motivation. A study showed that believers were much more likely than skeptics to see words and faces on a screen when there were none, whereas skeptics often did not see words and faces that were actually there.

Yet when skeptics were given the drug L-dopa, which increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, they were just as likely to interpret scrambled patterns as words and faces as were the religious individuals.

So what does the research mean? At the moment, we do not have a clear way to connect all the dots. For now we can say that the religious and atheist brains exhibit differences, but what causes these disparities remains unknown."


#16 | Posted by Corky at 2019-01-09 11:59 PM | Reply

"The researchers conducted eight experiments, each one with 159 to 527 adults, and found a correlation that the more empathetic person was more likely religious. This also fits with a previous finding that women tend to be more religious or spiritual than men, which can now be explained by their stronger tendency towards empathy.

On the flip side of that, atheists were found to be most aligned with psychopaths -- people classified as such due to their lack of empathy. Take that, obnoxious college buddy."


#17 | Posted by Corky at 2019-01-10 12:05 AM | Reply

"The perceived conflict between religion and science has played out across history, from lectures in Ancient Greek pantheons to discussions on Internet forums. According to a new study, the origin of this clash actually begins as a conflict between two networks in the brain.

The researchers came to this conclusion through eight separate questionnaire-studies and thought experiments. Each contained between 159 to 527 adults and compared the results of those who held beliefs in a god or universal spirit and those with no religious beliefs. The researches from Case Western Reserve University and Babson College recently published their findings in PLOS One.

Their research found that those with religious or spiritual beliefs appeared to suppress the brain network used for analytical thinking in order to engage the network for empathetic thinking. Equally, those who were non-religious showed they suppressed their empathetic thinking for analytical thinking.

"When there's a question of faith, from the analytic point of view, it may seem absurd," said Tony Jack, who led the research, in a press release. "But, from what we understand about the brain, the leap of faith to belief in the supernatural amounts to pushing aside the critical/analytical way of thinking to help us achieve greater social and emotional insight."

These two networks have a hard time balancing out as they are continually working to suppress the other, according to the study.

However, the researchers say that neither of these ways of thought has the monopoly on answers to the world's great questions; our very nature has allowed us to engage and explore our experiences using both patterns of thinking.

Jack added, "Religion has no place telling us about the physical structure of the world; that's the business of science. Science should inform our ethical reasoning, but it cannot determine what is ethical or tell us how we should construct meaning and purpose in our lives."

Furthermore, they argue science and religion don't always have to be seen as opposing forces. As the study points out, many of the world's greatest scientists have held spiritual beliefs, including 90 percent of the 21st century's Nobel laureates.

The authors concluded by saying that understanding the interaction between these two ways of thinking could enrich both.

"Far from always conflicting with science, under the right circumstances religious belief may positively promote scientific creativity and insight," Jack concluded."


So much for the "gotcha!" moment.

#18 | Posted by Corky at 2019-01-10 12:08 AM | Reply

Corky, when I was googling around on this topic earlier, I came across this:

In his recently published book, "How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain: The New Science of Transformation," Newberg details the discoveries he's made through brain scans of religious subjects including Sufi mystics, Buddhist meditators, Franciscan nuns, Pentecostals, and members of secular religious groups who follow spirituality rituals. His original research uncovers the specific neurological mechanisms that operate during an enlightenment experience, providing clues to how we can activate those circuits in the brain.

One of Newberg's primary research areas is the effect of meditation on cerebral blood flow. During meditation, the "sense of spacelessness" practitioners experience is correlated with decreased blood flow in the parietal lobe, which helps us maintain a grip on our conscious self-awareness. Those who focus prayers on a particular visual object or mantra, however, display decreased blood flow in the frontal lobes.


#19 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2019-01-10 12:24 AM | Reply


There's a lot involved, brain networks, hormones, blood flow... no telling what else. Problem is people trying to reduce it all down to confirm their biases.

#20 | Posted by Corky at 2019-01-10 12:27 AM | Reply

"Their research found that those with religious or spiritual beliefs appeared to suppress the brain network used for analytical thinking in order to engage the network for empathetic thinking. Equally, those who were non-religious showed they suppressed their empathetic thinking for analytical thinking."

Jihad is the highest form of empathy.

#21 | Posted by snoofy at 2019-01-10 12:36 AM | Reply

#21 Good catch. Sounds like an example of what Corky pointed out:

"Problem is people trying to reduce it all down to confirm their biases."

#22 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2019-01-10 12:50 AM | Reply

The biggest ------- cop out lie in the universe is "God's will" to explain away ------ things.


I had a brother who was killed in a car wreck when he was 14.

It wasn't an accident. The kid driving killed him and walked away uninjured.

He was driving down a gravel road and he pulled the emergency brake. My brother was ejected and the car rolled over top of him.

Everyone said stuff like "it was just his time to go."

I beg to differ.

Some **** stick killed him and then he was at school a few days later.

I see that guy from time to time. I heard he started taking it pretty hard later in life, and whatever.

He got to grow up, graduate, drink it up in college, get married, have a family, etc.

It wasn't "part of god's plan", it wasn't "god's will. It was a steaming pile of --------.

It still is.

#23 | Posted by MrSilenceDogood at 2019-01-10 06:03 AM | Reply

- Jihad is the highest form of empathy.

So then one supposes that the genetically engineered babies, eugenics, and race purity theories are some of the highest forms of analytical thinking?

#24 | Posted by Corky at 2019-01-10 10:33 AM | Reply

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