Saturday, October 3, 2009

oh god giant block of text big words

Have you ever wondered about the differences in brain activity between religious people and non-religious people? Well, thanks to the wonders of the internet... YOU HAVE AN ANSWER!!!!

Here's an experiment I found, led by America's less pissy and cooler version of Richard Dawkins - Sam Harris. This focuses on the differences between religious people and nonbelievers, in how they evaluate the truthiness of statements.
We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure signal changes in the brains of thirty subjects—fifteen committed Christians and fifteen nonbelievers—as they evaluated the truth and falsity of religious and nonreligious propositions. For each trial either a religious statement (e.g., “Jesus Christ really performed the miracles attributed to him in the Bible”) or a nonreligious statement (e.g., “Alexander the Great was a very famous military leader”) appeared, and participants pressed a button to indicate whether the statement was true or false. Our stimuli were designed to produce roughly equal numbers of believed and disbelieved trials in each category.
And here's the kicker:
Our study was designed to produce high concordance on nonreligious stimuli (e.g., “Eagles really exist”) and high discordance on religious stimuli (e.g., “Angels really exist”). The fact that we found essentially the same signal maps for belief minus disbelief in both groups, on both categories of content, argues strongly for the content-independence of belief and disbelief as cognitive processes. Despite the fact that religious believers and nonbelievers accepted and rejected diametrically opposite statements in half of our experimental trials, the same neural systems were engaged in both groups throughout. This would seem to rule out the possibility that these results could be explained by any property of the stimuli apart from their being deemed “true” or “false” by the subjects in our study.
In other words - facts and beliefs are processed in the exact same way. From the brain's point of view, religious belief and empirical data are the same.

Then it's no wonder there's such a divide in this country in the reason-versus-faith debate. Each side believes with complete certainty in its own truths, and each side believes that the other's truth claims are ludicrous.

Additionally, Harris noted that the pleasure centers in the brain lit up when atheists disagreed with a Christian claim, and when Christians affirmed one -- meaning we enjoy the fight.

I really want to see the brain activity of Glenn Beck when he's claiming atheism is directly responsible for all evil. I'd bet anything they're the same ones that light up at the peak of orgasm.


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