An effort to understand the human brain
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02-10-2014, 02:02 PM
An effort to understand the human brain
In this short TED talk, Nancy Kanwisher shows that the brain contains many specialized areas that seem to be responsible for recognition of certain objects, faces, places, sounds, etc

In a patient with epilepsy electrodes were placed near the area of his brain that recognized faces and when an electric charged was applied to this area, he lost the ability to recognize the face of the doctor in front of him.

In religion, we seem to confront people who lack the ability at times to recognize reason, logic & any type of critical thinking when it comes to a specific subject (religious beliefs). Could it be that a certain area of the brain in many people lack functionality in these areas of gullibility & trust ?

It would be interesting to see this kind of fMRI run on people with the focus being on religion and religious ideas and critical thinking.

As we learn more in the general sense of learning, our brains and the neural connections change over time. More connections made to certain areas could alter the electrical stimulation being delivered to specific areas of the brain and thus could potentially lead someone from a theistic life to one that is atheistic.

What are your thoughts ?




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02-10-2014, 02:16 PM
RE: An effort to understand the human brain
(02-10-2014 02:02 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  ---
In religion, we seem to confront people who lack the ability at times to recognize reason, logic & any type of critical thinking when it comes to a specific subject (religious beliefs). Could it be that a certain area of the brain in many people lack functionality in these areas of gullibility & trust ?
---

I don't think so... or at least, gullibility & trust in the religious seems to be specific... whereas if someone was lacking functionality, I think it would be overall. Some religious people think the very notion of other religions are absurd while their own they believe completely and utterly - they seem to see no connection between the two as being "belief".

NOTE: I haven't watched the vid yet - my comment is just a reaction to your one thought. Maybe my comment will be resolved when I watch the vid, later tonight. (I have to head to work now.)

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02-10-2014, 02:17 PM
RE: An effort to understand the human brain
My feeling is that religious gullibility, and the apparent blindness to reason can be explained as sheer willful ignorance... Maybe there's a neurological side to it as well, but I think its largely a conscious decision.

Its the same with conspiracy theories, magic, crystal healing, or any kind of bullshit...

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03-10-2014, 06:23 AM
RE: An effort to understand the human brain
Yeah, the fact that people will start or stop believing in God makes me think that it's probably a lot more complex than gullibility/trust issues. If that were the case, people switching beliefs would seem to indicate that that portion of their brain is changing and/or that the portion of the brain isn't a strong determining factor.
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03-10-2014, 06:47 AM
RE: An effort to understand the human brain
Certainly there is tons about the brain we can study. But the core of our cognition cuts from prior life and it's less complex pattern seeking. Just like the human eye evolved because photon receptors that detected light existed in prior life.

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03-10-2014, 08:17 AM
RE: An effort to understand the human brain
(02-10-2014 02:17 PM)Sam Wrote:  My feeling is that religious gullibility, and the apparent blindness to reason can be explained as sheer willful ignorance... Maybe there's a neurological side to it as well, but I think its largely a conscious decision.

Its the same with conspiracy theories, magic, crystal healing, or any kind of bullshit...

I'm not so sure.

The beliefs must rest on something. If it's not the more rational basis we might prefer, perhaps it's emotional, or something else, but they originate and persist for a reason.

In some cases "God" is an answer to questions that otherwise can't be answered, and some people really don't like not having answers. Where this relates to us (as atheists) is that there often are some answers that do not rely on "God" - biodiversity explained through evolution, human behaviour explained through neuroscience and psychology, stars and constellations explained through general relativity, etc - and someone who already thinks they have an answer ("God") or who has been prevented from finding another answer isn't aware of them. So that knowledge lessens the need for "God" as an answer. But there are (always?) questions we can't answer, and so as utterly non-compelling as I find the idea, I think there will always be people who stick "God" at the end of the line of questions until something better comes along, to meet that need for certain knowledge.
(not that "God" does anything but raise further, even more unanswerable questions, mind...)

The topic of conspiracy theories has come up here before around here, too, and I'm quite convinced by some articles I've read, that the attraction is the illusion of exclusive knowledge, and even a sense of superiority - and that the biggest attraction of all is to assign a pattern and order to "random" events (conspiratorial ideation is basically false pattern matching, something we're all guilty of as overdeveloped ground apes; paranoid schizophrenia has as a common symptom this times eleven...). So similarly, though not necessarily through rational, reasoning means, the belief exists and persists because the person gets something out of it.

If you mean to say that, holding those beliefs and finding them a positive, people actively reject interference with them (ie, textbook cognitive dissonance), then yes, that ignorance can most assuredly be willful.

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04-10-2014, 08:25 AM (This post was last modified: 04-10-2014 09:57 AM by Rahn127.)
RE: An effort to understand the human brain
My whole reason behind posting this was regarding recognition, the ability to differentiate between faces, shapes, landscapes, sounds, etc. When these areas of the brain responsible for these functions are messed with, there is a loss of function. The person is no longer able to recognize faces and only the face. Every other part of the body is in clear focus.

I relate this to religion because there are people who use rational thought with every other aspect in their lives, but when it comes to religious beliefs, that rational thinking gets turned off, just like when the guy was zapped with a little electricity and suddenly unable to distinguish the face in front of him.

I may have a bias in wanting religion to simply be a malfunctioning area of the brain. It could relate to my desire to want to lobotomize the lot of them Smile

Who knows

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04-10-2014, 08:59 AM
RE: An effort to understand the human brain
(04-10-2014 08:25 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  ...
I may have a bias in wanting religion to simply be a malfunctioning area of the brain. It could relate to my desire to want to lobotomize the lot of them Smile

Who knows

Thanks for the OP.

I've no long come back from a 4 hour 'chat' about consciousness. Wish I'd seen the vid first.
The good news was that the only person who talked about 'vital forces' stormed of in huff because no one took him seriously.

Meanwhile, who do you explain people like RobbyPants? People who are ex-believers.
Did the gullibility region of he brain suddenly stop functioning correctly?
Or did the critical thinking region of the suddenly start working correctly once faced with overwhelming data?

I think not.

Would it not be more likely that beliefs are the emergent output from the processing process?

Consider

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04-10-2014, 09:49 AM
RE: An effort to understand the human brain
(02-10-2014 02:02 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  In religion, we seem to confront people who lack the ability at times to recognize reason, logic & any type of critical thinking when it comes to a specific subject (religious beliefs). Could it be that a certain area of the brain in many people lack functionality in these areas of gullibility & trust ?

I see the same from many atheists on this forum. My gut is this sort of brain damage strikes atheists and theists equally.
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04-10-2014, 10:14 AM
RE: An effort to understand the human brain
(04-10-2014 09:49 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  
(02-10-2014 02:02 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  In religion, we seem to confront people who lack the ability at times to recognize reason, logic & any type of critical thinking when it comes to a specific subject (religious beliefs). Could it be that a certain area of the brain in many people lack functionality in these areas of gullibility & trust ?

I see the same from many atheists on this forum. My gut is this sort of brain damage strikes atheists and theists equally.

Says the man who thinks a great sky fairy exists. Laughat

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

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