Brain atrophy in the religious
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26-08-2012, 06:11 AM
Brain atrophy in the religious
Scientific American

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26-08-2012, 08:35 AM
RE: Brain atrophy in the religious
This is by far one of the most interesting articles I have read on the psychology and brain activity of the religious. This shows that religion is really only an illusion/delusion of the human mind.

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26-08-2012, 09:05 AM
Brain atrophy in the religious
I don't get it.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of Calvinism is that good Atheists do nothing." ~Eric Oh My
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26-08-2012, 10:08 AM
RE: Brain atrophy in the religious
I have several issues with this study. One, it's only the first, and I never take the first study's word for anything. Two, the subjects were recruited from a study about depression, which means that any effects found could be from that, not religion. (Yes, I'm aware that supposedly some were from the control group without depression, and that it was supposedly controlled for - or at least listed in the covariates - but I couldn't find any numbers.) Three, there were only 268 subjects, a tiny sample statistically. Four, the PLoS One report has the following paragraph:

Quote:Religious factors assessed at baseline included (1) frequency of public worship, (2) frequency of private religious activity (prayer, meditation, or Bible study), (3) religious group membership. Religious factors assessed at baseline and annually included (4) born-again status and (5) life-changing religious experiences. Born-again status was assessed with the question, “Are you a born-again Christian?” This was defined as: “A conversion experience, i.e., a specific occasion when you dedicated your life to Jesus.” Participants responding no were assessed for life-changing religious experiences with the question, “Have you ever had any other religious experience that changed your life?” Participants' responses changed over time; thus were categorized as: 1) no born again status or life-changing religious experience, 2) baseline born-again status, 3) new born-again status (i.e., responded no to born-again question at baseline, but yes at a later interview), 4) baseline life-changing religious experience, and 5) new life-changing religious experience. Religious group membership was classified as Catholic, Protestant, Other, or None. Because of the high degree of overlap between Protestant group membership and born-again status, the Protestant group was further divided into born-again and non born-again subcategories.

Where are the non-believers? They have some group labeled "no religious affiliation", which from my reading corresponds to believers who just don't belong to any church. There aren't any specifically non-believing atheists or agnostics.

I'm also a bit aggravated that I couldn't find out how many people were in each group. With only 268 to start with, some of them could be very small, throwing any confidence in the results out the window.

And finally, did you notice the results? To quote the first link:

Quote:The results showed significantly greater hippocampal atrophy in individuals reporting a life-changing religious experience. In addition, they found significantly greater hippocampal atrophy among born-again Protestants, Catholics, and those with no religious affiliation, compared with Protestants not identifying as born-again.

The only ones who come out "ok" in this study are the non-born-again Protestants. Even the "nones" have atrophy.

Color me unimpressed.
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26-08-2012, 07:43 PM
RE: Brain atrophy in the religious
Yeah I have to agree with Barefoot. It's interesting, but ultimately you can't draw any conclusions. I find it deeply troubling that a director of research at a major institution like this would make such bold presumptions when any graduate level review committee would tear his methodology apart if it was presented by a student.
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26-08-2012, 09:56 PM (This post was last modified: 26-08-2012 10:01 PM by fstratzero.)
RE: Brain atrophy in the religious
Seems like a simple way to draw people to their page using an old tactic.

Sensationalism, however it seems like most people aren't biting.

Sensationalism is a type of editorial bias in mass media in which events and topics in news stories and pieces are over-hyped to increase viewership or readership numbers.




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