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What religion does to your brain

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Golden Duck
2 hours ago, qxcontinuum said:

What religion does to your brain? It certainly makes you a better man it shows you values which can help you living a healthy and better life, happy with yourself as well with your beloved Neighbors. Problem is when man does bad things in the name of the religion, it's actions in the name of religion becomes a religion within itself and this is how perception is being skewed.

And women?  Bad things in the name of God?

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eight bits

Howdy, @jmccr8

It seems to me that the article is a heady mix of pop journalism and not-so-new observational science.

Yes, of course, sex, drugs, rock and roll and a gazillion other things will activate pleasure centers. And don't we all love those endless recitations of all the parts our brains have? Lotsa parts. Which is great for a pop journalist who's paid by the word, because all she's actually saying is that we do things that feel good, as much as we can. Some people do things that feel good in a religious context. Plus- wait for it - it turns out that when we do different things, different parts of our brain are active. Wow.

The article is like a @Davros of Skaro post, except less witty and the author got paid.

In criticizing the merits of the article, I don't want to come off as criticizing you. It is definitely worthwhile to catalog what happens in the fMRI machine as the result from different activities people engage in. However, to bundle up readings that reflect how subjects were recruited and reinterpreting that as "what religion does to your brain" is good salesmanship (and probably good grantsmanship). It's not so hot as science, however.

Compare the trajectory of Herbert Benson's career. As a young physiological researcher at Harvard. he got a grant from the then trendy "Transcendental Meditation" organization to document the physiological effects of engaging in their practice. So he did the work, and he got real results. This was before fMRI existed, but traditional physiologcial measurements allowed him to discover a distinct stable human physiological state that was neither sleep nor ordinary wakefulness. That's a big deal, and the grantor was pleased.

But Benson was a scientist, and he asked one more question: was "transcendental" meditation the only thing that elicited this newly discovered physiological state? The answer is no. He abstracted the elements of his paymaster's practice, and showed that just about anything that occupied the speech centers while the body was comfortably resting had identical physiological effects.

A similar story could be told about Tanya Luhrmann's research at Stanford (and earlier at the University of Chicago). She studied religious practices as an anthropologist and experimental psychologist. She was a productive researcher within the religious sphere, but one day a colleague suggested that she ought to try the same practices, but without the religious trappings. So, instead of "listening for" Jesus, she asked subjects to "listen for" Leland Stanford, Jr. Once again, the same practices led to basically the same results - even down to the occasional visionary experience featuring Junior.

These stories establish that the threshhold for any "scientific" investigation into what religion does to your brain is to establish that any observed effect is peculiar to religion and not to some human activity that religion has absorbed into itself. Which, as near as I can tell, is every human behavior there is, very much including sex, drugs and rock 'n roll.

Like community singing, for example. Does anybody seriously propose that singing doesn't "light up" some areas of the brain more than others? But, which study gets funded and then enjoys more press coverage? What religious musical praise does to "your" brain? Or What singing does to the brain?

By all means, do check whether the subject of the music makes a difference (and hire a musicologist, because many Protestant hymns have a characteristic structure involving rhythm, tonal range and other measurable performance attributes that I suspect the average fMRI specialist lacks preparation about). Benson checked, and had it turned out differently, his funders would have been even more pleased.

But given the track record, and in the absence of specific evidence on point, I am unpersuaded that anything in the article was peculiar to "religious practice," which so far as I can tell conicides exactly and its entirety to the known repertoire of human behavior.

Sure, if I want to fMRI people who sit around talking to themselves (a fairly common human behavior), then the efficient way to do it is to recruit convented nuns. But don't waste everybody's time with how your findings reflect the religion of your subjects until and unless you've compared those with, say, intercity bus drivers. Buddhist nuns versus Catholic nuns? That's fine, too, but don't pretend that that says anything about "religion" as compared with anything other than religion.

Edited by eight bits
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closed for business
19 minutes ago, eight bits said:

Howdy, @jmccr8

It seems to me that the article is a heady mix of pop journalism and not-so-new observational science.

Yes, of course, sex, drugs, rock and roll and a gazillion other things will activate pleasure centers. And don't we all love those endless recitations of all the parts our brains have? Lotsa parts. Which is great for a pop journalist who's paid by the word, because all she's actually saying is that we do things that feel good, as much as we can. Some people do things that feel good in a religious context. Plus- wait for it - it turns out that when we do different things, different parts of our brain are active. Wow.

The article is like a @Davros of Skaro post, except less witty and the author got paid.

In criticizing the merits of the article, I don't want to come off as criticizing you. It is definitely worthwhile to catalog what happens in the fMRI machine as the result from different activities people engage in. However, to bundle up readings that reflect how subjects were recruited and reinterpreting that as "what religion does to your brain" is good salesmanship (and probably good grantsmanship). It's not so hot as science, however.

Compare the trajectory of Herbert Benson's career. As a young physiological researcher at Harvard. he got a grant from the then trendy "Transcendental Meditation" organization to document the physiological effects of engaging in their practice. So he did the work, and he got real results. This was before fMRI existed, but traditional physiologcial measurements allowed him to discover a distinct stable human physiological state that was neither sleep nor ordinary wakefulness. That's a big deal, and the grantor was pleased.

But Benson was a scientist, and he asked one more question: was "transcendental" meditation the only thing that elicited this newly discovered physiological state? The answer is no. He abstracted the elements of his paymaster's practice, and showed that just about anything that occupied the speech centers while the body was comfortably resting had identical physiological effects.

A similar story could be told about Tanya Luhrmann's research at Stanford (and earlier at the University of Chicago). She studied religious practices as an anthropologist and experimental psychologist. She was a productive researcher within the religious sphere, but one day a colleague suggested that she ought to try the same practices, but without the religious trappings. So, instead of "listening for" Jesus, she asked subjects to "listen for" Leland Stanford, Jr. Once again, the same practices led to basically the same results - even down to the occasional visionary experience featuring Junior.

These stories establish that the threshhold for any "scientific" investigation into what religion does to your (mine? seriously?) brain is to establish that any observed effect is peculiar to religion and not to some human activity that religion has absorbed into itself. Which, as near as I can tell, is every human behavior there is, very much including sex, drugs and rock 'n roll.

Like community singing, for example. Does anybody seriously propose that singing doesn't "light up" some areas of the brain more than others? But, which study gets funded and then enjoys more press coverage? What religious musical praise does to "your" brain? Or What singing does to the brain?

By all means, do check whether the subject of the music makes a difference (and hire a musicologist, because many Protestant hymns have a characteristic structure involving rhythm, tonal range and other measurable performance attributes that I suspect the average fMRI specialist lacks preparation about). Benson checked, and had it turned out differently, his funders would have been even more pleased.

But given the track record, and in the absence of specific evidence on point, I am unpersuaded that anything in the article was peculiar to "religious practice," which so far as I can tell conicides exactly and its entirety to the known repertoire of human behavior.

Sure, if I want to fMRI people who sit around talking to themselves (a fairly common human behavior), then the efficient way to do it is to recruit convented nuns. But don't waste everybody's time with how your findings reflect the religion of your subjects until and unless you've compared those with, say, intercity bus drivers. Buddhist nuns versus Catholic nuns? That's fine, too, but don't pretend that that says anything about "religion" as compared with anything other than religion.

Hi Eight bits

Thanks for taking the time to make this post I enjoyed reading it.

Personally I didn’t think god or religion mattered much more like a laser pointer and a cat something to focus on but after reading it thought I would drop it in here to see what came up.

With respect to nuns vocalizing reminded me of how I prefer reading from a book compared to a screen because I have a greater sense experience due to touching and turning pages while reading so for me it seems that I have a better memory recall of the material.

jmccr8

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eight bits
31 minutes ago, jmccr8 said:

With respect to nuns vocalizing reminded me of how I prefer reading from a book compared to a screen because I have a greater sense experience due to touching and turning pages while reading so for me it seems that I have a better memory recall of the material.

I know what you mean. It took me a long time to get used to reading pdf's instead of physical books and articles.

What wore me down (apart from improvements in "user experience" as the readers got better over time) was electronic search and, sucker for old things that I am, the availability of high-quality facsimiles of books that I'd never get to handle in a real library. Plus, in many cases, the facsimiles come complete with electronic transcriptions.

So, I came around.

Although every once in a while I'll be looking for something specific online, and it just won't be there, or it's behind a paywall. Well, an hour's drive in one direction is the University of New Hampshire library, and an hour's drive in another direction is the Dartmouth library, both of which serve non-members of their respective communities (at least in non-plague years). Between them, they have just about everything. So, woe is me, I have to settle for a real book, with genuine sensual presence.

I wonder what parts of my brain light up then :D

Edited by eight bits
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third_eye

Let's see the MRI pretty pictures of brains watching porn and deduce where God fits into that as opposed to religion.

This is more of those science for hire hit pieces to sell something while hiding behind scientific language liturgy. 

~

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joc
6 hours ago, jmccr8 said:

Hi Joc

Thanks who's premise mine or the article?

jmccr8

I quoted the article.  The premise of the article therefore is wrong.

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closed for business
1 hour ago, joc said:

I quoted the article.  The premise of the article therefore is wrong.

Hi Joc

Thanks just wanted to make sure :tu:

I didn't agree either but just for the sake of talking about something light added it here to see what kind of responses I got, fully expected it to die a quick painless death.

jmccr8

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closed for business
2 hours ago, third_eye said:

Let's see the MRI pretty pictures of brains watching porn and deduce where God fits into that as opposed to religion.

This is more of those science for hire hit pieces to sell something while hiding behind scientific language liturgy. 

~

Hi Third_eye

True that, it is interesting how religious thinkers spin things to make it sound important much like some of the inks used by individuals to support their arguments here in the forum.

jmccr8

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Will Due
1 minute ago, jmccr8 said:

Hi Third_eye

True that, it is interesting how religious thinkers spin things to make it sound important much like some of the inks used by individuals to support their arguments here in the forum.

jmccr8

 

And the other way around. :tu:

 

 

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third_eye
1 minute ago, jmccr8 said:

Hi Third_eye

True that, it is interesting how religious thinkers spin things to make it sound important much like some of the inks used by individuals to support their arguments here in the forum.

jmccr8

It's a time worn out and tested flogging of dead horsies pretending to be unicorns....

Quote
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

~

Speak of the devil... 

1 minute ago, Will Do said:

And the other way around. :tu:

~

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closed for business
3 hours ago, eight bits said:

I know what you mean. It took me a long time to get used to reading pdf's instead of physical books and articles.

What wore me down (apart from improvements in "user experience" as the readers got better over time) was electronic search and, sucker for old things that I am, the availability of high-quality facsimiles of books that I'd never get to handle in a real library. Plus, in many cases, the facsimiles come complete with electronic transcriptions.

So, I came around.

Although every once in a while I'll be looking for something specific online, and it just won't be there, or it's behind a paywall. Well, an hour's drive in one direction is the University of New Hampshire library, and an hour's drive in another direction is the Dartmouth library, both of which serve non-members of their respective communities (at least in non-plague years). Between them, they have just about everything. So, woe is me, I have to settle for a real book, with genuine sensual presence.

I wonder what parts of my brain light up then :D

Hi Eight bits

Yes of course I have adapted as well although I am not as avid a reader as yourself or many of the other members here and maybe my book experience would be more like a phantom limb experience when the arm one no longer has feel itchy.

jmccr8

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Will Due
3 minutes ago, third_eye said:

Speak of the devil... 

 

"Happy are you when men shall revile you" :lol:

 

 

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closed for business
8 minutes ago, Will Do said:

 

And the other way around. :tu:

 

 

Why bother quoting me Will, Walker is not under attack in this thread and it really doesn't need you to help shut it down it will die Will Do of it's own accord.

jmccr8

Edited by jmccr8
Meh
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third_eye
1 minute ago, Will Do said:

 

"Happy are you when men shall revile you" :lol:

Only when the gods shall weep for thee.... 

Be thou, thine own, for thyself of thee, reviled... 

Happy for you... 

~

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Will Due
7 minutes ago, third_eye said:

Happy for you... 

 

Likewise :D

 

 

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third_eye
Just now, Will Do said:

 

Likewise :D

 

 

Sorry to have had to make you miserable ...

~

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Will Due
6 minutes ago, third_eye said:

Sorry to have had to make you miserable ...

~

 

:lol: Now I'm ecstatic!

And "exceedingly glad" :tu:

Thank you :)

 

 

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third_eye
3 minutes ago, Will Do said:

 

:lol: Now I'm ecstatic!

Good for you, go wrap up your rapture 

~

3 minutes ago, Will Do said:

And "exceedingly glad" :tu:

Your "exceeded" gladness is tainted... 

Quote

2 Peter 2:1 - But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction

~

3 minutes ago, Will Do said:

Thank you :)

Most welcome, enjoy your happy hour in hell with Adolf 

~

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Nuclear Wessel
32 minutes ago, Will Do said:

 

"Happy are you when men shall revile you" :lol:

 

 

image.png.bca7b00fa90d68df417aa87c56f31c4e.png

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Will Due
3 minutes ago, third_eye said:

Good for you, go wrap up your rapture 

~

Your "exceeded" gladness is tainted... 

~

Most welcome, enjoy your happy hour in hell with Adolf 

~

 

Oh please,  don't stop :D

 

 

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closed for business

I find it kind of funny that this has become a hot topic:huh::unsure::lol:

jmccr8

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closed for business
1 minute ago, Will Do said:

 

Oh please,  don't stop :D

 

 

Hi Will

What is the point of you posting in this particular thread it's not like you have said anything on topic?

jmccr8

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third_eye
1 minute ago, Will Do said:

Oh please,  don't stop :D

Beg some more, I'll think about it... 

~

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Will Due

 

It's so on topic I can't stand it!

Niether can you.

Give me more. :lol:

 

 

Edited by Will Do
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Nuclear Wessel
Just now, Will Do said:

It's so on topic I can't stand it!

Give me more. :lol:

Hey now, keep it PG-13.

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