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Thread: At least some religious fundamentalism is due to brain damage

  1. Top | #11
    Veteran Member Lion IRC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lion IRC View Post
    Seems like there's a strong correlation between being a US citizen who lived in the 60's-70's (Vietnam era) and strongly held religious views.

    Meanwhile, in other news...science finds a correlation between surviving near death experiences (like being shot at) and increased religiosity.
    War is a common way to get brain damage. You would expect vets to be way overrepresented in a pool of those with brain damage.


    The reason vets were overrepresented in the data is because...

    "To investigate the cognitive and neural systems involved in religious fundamentalism, a team of researchers...conducted a study that utilized data from Vietnam War veterans"

  2. Top | #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lion IRC View Post
    Seems like there's a strong correlation between being a US citizen who lived in the 60's-70's (Vietnam era) and strongly held religious views.

    Meanwhile, in other news...science finds a correlation between surviving near death experiences (like being shot at) and increased religiosity.
    War is a common way to get brain damage. You would expect vets to be way overrepresented in a pool of those with brain damage.
    The smartest and most capable humans don't become veterans. In the 60's and early 70's if you had the wealth and brains for college you got deferred. A negative condition in the prefontal cortex is already causing segregation before the study is ever even conceived.

  3. Top | #13
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    We've discussed the study itself on this forum before. Typical treatment of a good article by confused reporting.

    If all you're looking for is a "scientists say..." article that confirms your biases, I guess you've got what you need. If you want to actually learn something about the brain, read the article not the press summary, which is inaccurate.

  4. Top | #14
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    We've discussed the study itself on this forum before. Typical treatment of a good article by confused reporting.

    If all you're looking for is a "scientists say..." article that confirms your biases, I guess you've got what you need. If you want to actually learn something about the brain, read the article not the press summary, which is inaccurate.

    Thanks Politesse.

    The study: Biological and cognitive underpinnings of religious fundamentalism https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/art...t_=po=0.757576

    Obviously the authors wet through a lot of research to pesent what is in the article. My problems with the research analysis are just technical, more in line with was the study well designed, did it use appropriate methods to evaluate data, etc.

    In my judgement they did not. I saw that as probably more with a failure to understand the purpose of statistical usage than with their intent to sell a point of view.

    Quite honestly much of biological and behavioral research uses a shotgun and is rather clumsy in concealing they had conclusions in mind before they conducted the study, as is evident here.

    Is that unethical? Probably not.

    Is it lazy? Most definitely.

    Does it advance the field? probably very little.

    With the above in mind here is my quick popin to suggest the quality of the article needs to be taken in context of analyses performed. Starting with statistical analyses one has to ask whether the questions demanded a two tailed analysis or were authors just mine sweeping and reacting to results by suggesting reasons for direction of results.

    We performed all behavioral analysis with SPSS 21.0 (Armonk, NY: IBM Corp.), with significance level set to 0.05 (two-tailed) for all analysis. We examined the normality of data using the Kolmogorov-Smirnovtest, and parametric tests were conducted on normally distributed data.
    Is this a two tailed question?

    Thus, we hypothesized that lesions to the vmPFC would be associated with increased fundamentalism, and this relationship would be mediated by cognitive flexibility and trait openness.
    I think not.

    Moving on correlational tests are associative not deterministic in nature. That is they provide indications of relation not indications of causal relationships.

    We computed Pearson's correlation coefficient to assess the relationship between cognitive flexibility, openness and fundamentalism in pTBI patients and HC.
    Those correlations need be based on more than 'names' to be indicative of anything. I leave it to the reader to determine whether that is so.

    The brain data might be interesting if there are real bases for making judgements based on observed findings. These judgements depend on the statistics so IMHO they don't measure up.

    OLD PFART FDI Just sayin .....
    Last edited by fromderinside; 01-02-2020 at 07:19 PM.

  5. Top | #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    On an old PBS Tavis Smiley show I listebd to neuro scientist talk about research on religious experience.

    He ran brain scans while theists contemplated god and prayed.

    Not by design, he ended up with secular scientists in his control group.

    He found religious contemplation and scientific contemplate lit up the same parts of the brain.

    Conclusion, religious experience is not unique to religion.
    It's likely this study, which has nothing to do with how people form religious beliefs vs. secular/scientific conclusions.
    They didn't have people actually think about a topic or form beliefs about them. Rather that asked them to simply retrieve from memory their already well formed beliefs about very common topics. For example, they showed them a simple statement like "Angels exist." or "The Sun is a star." and had people say "true" or "false". Similar brains regions lit up regardless of whether the statement was about a religious idea or whether the person was religious or not. But all that says is that once we already have a formed belief, the simple act of retrieving that pre-formed belief when prompted involved similar brain regions. But that would be true even if the beliefs were formed via completely different psychological processes and had different impact on how people think when confronted with new information.

  6. Top | #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    On an old PBS Tavis Smiley show I listebd to neuro scientist talk about research on religious experience.

    He ran brain scans while theists contemplated god and prayed.

    Not by design, he ended up with secular scientists in his control group.

    He found religious contemplation and scientific contemplate lit up the same parts of the brain.

    Conclusion, religious experience is not unique to religion.
    It's likely this study, which has nothing to do with how people form religious beliefs vs. secular/scientific conclusions.
    They didn't have people actually think about a topic or form beliefs about them. Rather that asked them to simply retrieve from memory their already well formed beliefs about very common topics. For example, they showed them a simple statement like "Angels exist." or "The Sun is a star." and had people say "true" or "false". Similar brains regions lit up regardless of whether the statement was about a religious idea or whether the person was religious or not. But all that says is that once we already have a formed belief, the simple act of retrieving that pre-formed belief when prompted involved similar brain regions. But that would be true even if the beliefs were formed via completely different psychological processes and had different impact on how people think when confronted with new information.
    From Popper's book Objective Knowledge, how science becomes accepted as fact is not a logical objective process. As depute expands around experiment it becomes a subjective social process. My experience in engineering generally matches.

    Religious and science truths are arrived at by the same process. What separates the two is the premise or hypothesis. There is only logic and reasoning, the same mental faculties for both science and religion.

    Another aspect was that a secular scientist and a theist both build their paradigm or working view of reality in the same area of the brain.

    Correlation id not necessarily causation. The idea that theists have brain damage or physical defect sounds like a silly attempt to mock theists. A kind of study and conclusion worthy of FOX News..

  7. Top | #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    On an old PBS Tavis Smiley show I listebd to neuro scientist talk about research on religious experience.

    He ran brain scans while theists contemplated god and prayed.

    Not by design, he ended up with secular scientists in his control group.

    He found religious contemplation and scientific contemplate lit up the same parts of the brain.

    Conclusion, religious experience is not unique to religion.
    It's likely this study, which has nothing to do with how people form religious beliefs vs. secular/scientific conclusions.
    They didn't have people actually think about a topic or form beliefs about them. Rather that asked them to simply retrieve from memory their already well formed beliefs about very common topics. For example, they showed them a simple statement like "Angels exist." or "The Sun is a star." and had people say "true" or "false". Similar brains regions lit up regardless of whether the statement was about a religious idea or whether the person was religious or not. But all that says is that once we already have a formed belief, the simple act of retrieving that pre-formed belief when prompted involved similar brain regions. But that would be true even if the beliefs were formed via completely different psychological processes and had different impact on how people think when confronted with new information.
    From Popper's book Objective Knowledge, how science becomes accepted as fact is not a logical objective process. As depute expands around experiment it becomes a subjective social process. My experience in engineering generally matches.

    Religious and science truths are arrived at by the same process. What separates the two is the premise or hypothesis. There is only logic and reasoning, the same mental faculties for both science and religion.
    Um, no there is much more than logic and reasoning that can be used to form and maintain beliefs. Logic and reasoning can be used to evaluate the relative plausibility of competing claims, tentatively accepting the claim deemed most probable by reasoned analysis. That it the approach of science but the opposite of the approach of religion. Religion relies upon faith, which is a blend of emotion and deference to authorities with no rational basis for their claims. Religion entails people accepting whatever conclusion is most emotionally satisfying, serves some useful social control function, or which is declared true by some authority who themselves used one of these approaches, all with virtually no regard for what is most plausible based on reasoned analysis. None of those criteria have any correspondence to rationally determined probable accuracy. In fact, since most core religious beliefs (theism, afterlife, etc), are contradicted by reasoned analysis, religious belief often requires active suppression of empirical knowledge and reason in order to maintain belief in an emotionally preferred conclusion.

    IOW, religious beliefs are developed from processes closer to those used by a mother who concludes against all evidence and reasoned thought that her son is innocent of the crime that the he is clearly guilty of.

  8. Top | #18
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Most every college sophomore takes a psychology class that includes conditioning a rat, other small rodent, pigeon or fish in a Thorndike, Skinner box or to a Harlow tube in fish bowl. On top of that they learn to distinguish unconditioned response from conditioned response.

    Many get their animal to do more than just bar press in response to a signal like a light or sound. This additional behavior is called superstitious behavior and it arises from action the animal has after the signal and before the bar press or nose nudge that is retained through their association of light or sound with manipulandum action to reinforcement.

    I prefer to think of any behavior associated with stupid things like jumping or spinning or saying a word or sentence or even having a particular thought randomly associated with a practical learning experience as religious behavior. Religious behavior has very little to do with evidence or reason or explanation. Religious behavior is just stupid behavior acquired but not explained otherwise by experience.

  9. Top | #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Most every college sophomore takes a psychology class that includes conditioning a rat, other small rodent, pigeon or fish in a Thorndike, Skinner box or to a Harlow tube in fish bowl. On top of that they learn to distinguish unconditioned response from conditioned response.

    Many get their animal to do more than just bar press in response to a signal like a light or sound. This additional behavior is called superstitious behavior and it arises from action the animal has after the signal and before the bar press or nose nudge that is retained through their association of light or sound with manipulandum action to reinforcement.

    I prefer to think of any behavior associated with stupid things like jumping or spinning or saying a word or sentence or even having a particular thought randomly associated with a practical learning experience as religious behavior. Religious behavior has very little to do with evidence or reason or explanation. Religious behavior is just stupid behavior acquired but not explained otherwise by experience.
    Yeah, conditioning is a big part of it, and is central to the emotional basis of religious belief. Kids are trained from birth to associate particular religious symbols and ideas with positive social reinforcements. This makes them feel good about those ideas. However, the core religious ideas (never really dying and having a sky daddy who makes everything good and just in the end, likely have innate emotional appeal and thus are unconditioned stimuli that produce a positive unconditioned emotional response.
    However, conditioned responses don't inherently produce an associated belief. A person can either naturally or be conditioned to feel positive emotions towards theism and other religious ideas, and yet still reject those ideas as objectively true based upon reasoned analysis. It comes down to whether the person is willing to believe what is supported by reason, even if it makes them feel bad or unable to access easy emotional rewards. Conditioning and innate reactions still make them feel good or bad about religious ideas, but they make a conscious and reasoned effort to keep what feels good or bad separate from what they believe to be true or false. People differ in how committed they are to doing this vs. just giving into emotional bias and allowing emotions and conditioned associations determine their beliefs without any effortful reasoned thought.

  10. Top | #20
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Well if you exclude emotionally coded words from my post you'll see that most any superstitious behavior can be associated with something like religious belief which will be seen as relevant to what one does.

    Really. It's the religious coded words I used that actually triggered your response. I said it and and it's true .... to me.

    Reason need not be evidence based so why not lose that term as well. After all you aren't gaining anything by saying 'reason'. It's just a baby step from there to religion.

    When you descend into emotion for connections you are really hanging your argument out to dry.

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