Monthly Archives: June 2015

Interested in mass hysteria/delusion/hallucination? Then have a closer look at the Dictionary of Hallucinations.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to give my blog a “decent” and “humble” title. So I chose to call it “Mass delusions a.k.a. Magical & Religious Woo-Bullshit Thinking”. An appropriate and proper title IMOHO. How can anyone dislike such a title?

Talking of mass delusions – have you heard of a site called Dictionary of Hallucinations? For details, see .

Hallucinations are the mother of many (mass) delusions. A very famous example of mass delusions (or mass hallucinations or mass hysteria) is the Miracle of the Dancing Sun at Fatima on October 13th, 1917. The dancing sun at Fatima that day was seen by around 70,000 people, most of them pious God (and Virgin Mary) believers.

Was it a divine miracle? Yes, of course! But only if you’re a true Bible believer. (Why not have a closer look at the True Believer Syndrome, click this link, .

BTW, here’s a Q&A post/article from QUORA about the dancing sun at Fatima, . My own answer to that question (stated in the link text) is the same as Travis Bauer’s, i.e. “It didn’t happen. […] Hasn’t it ever struck you as odd that these things always happen in extremely poor, uneducated areas where people are extremely religious and widely illiterate?”

Even the RCC is skeptical. In another answer to the asked question about the miracle at Fatima you can read: “The Official Vatican line on visions is skepticism. You’re right to be cautious. That’s the attitude of the Church, which knows that, historically, most purported apparitions — whether of Mary, Jesus, an angel, or one of the saints — have been spurious.”

My own favorite (neuro)scientific answer goes like this: It’s all about mass hysteria, mass delusion and/or mass hallucination.

So let’s have a look at what the Dictionary of Hallucinations says about that explanation:

EPIDEMIC HALLUCINATION: Also known as popular hallucination and mass hallucinosis. All three terms are used to denote a hallucination shared by a relatively large number of people, who typically believe the content of the hallucination in question to beveridical or at leastcoincidental in nature.

The French alienist Alexandre Jacques François Brierre de Boismont (17971881) gives the following examples, derived from the workof the French chronicler and physician Rigord (c.1150 – c.1209):On the day Saladin entered the Holy City, says Rigord, the monks of Argenteuil saw the moon descend from heaven upon earth, and then reascend to heaven.

In many churches the crucifixes and images of the saints shed tears of blood in the presence of the faithful

These examples, which we have selected from many others related by the same writer, clearly prove that hallucinations may affect a number of persons at the same time, without there being any reason to accuse them of insanity.”

In biomedicine the mediation of epidemic hallucinations is associated primarily with phenomena such as mass hysteria and mass hypnosis.

Paranormal and religious explanations for the working mechanism of epidemic hallucinations typically range from telepathy to divine intervention.

The German hallucinations researcher Edmund Parish (1861-1916) distinguishes the epidemic hallucination from the collective hallucination, reserving the latter term for a type of hallucination in which a limited number of people are under the impression that they share common hallucinatory percept.

Brierre de Boismont, A. (1859). On hallucinations. A history and explanation of apparitions, visions, dreamsecstasy, magnetism, and somnambulism. Translated by Hulme, R.T. London: Henry Renshaw
Critchley, M. (1939). Visual and auditory hallucinations. British Medical Journal, 2, 634639.
Parish, E. (1897). Hallucinations and illusions. A study of the fallacies of perception. London: Walter Scott.
Now I wonder: Do you agree or disagree?

1 Comment

Filed under Brain, Hallucinations, Neuroscience

Two more bloggers absolutely worth following, at least if you’re an atheist or agnostic

About a month ago I listed some of my favorite bloggers. Please, have a look at .

Since then, here are two more blogs I’ve found and now want to promote,

#1 – or #17 if I continue the counting from my blog mentioned above: A blog called “Refuting God”, see . The blogger “rounaqb” focuses on arguments commonly used by theists to help them believe in the existence of God. “Rounaqb” demonstrates that those theistic arguments – for example the “Kalam Cosmological Argument”, “Pascal’s Wager” etc – are both illogical and full of inconsistencies (i.e. bullshit). And maybe best of all, it’s fairly easy to follow and understand “rounaqb’s” way of reasoning. He’s got pedagogic talents.

#2 – or # 18 “from start”: This blog is called “Reasonable doubts – your skeptical guide to religion”. Here you’ll find both blog articles and podcasts. A good variety of topics. Sometimes other prominent nontheistic bloggers are interviewed. Click this link, .

To be continued…

Leave a comment

Filed under Atheism, Blogs I follow, Religion, Theological bullshit

A merciful, caring, loving and omniscient God? You must be kidding!

Have you heard of a blogger called Thomas Swan? I think you’ll like him very much. Why not have a look at this article, ?

How on earth can a God who is like the one we read about in the Old Testament be called merciful, caring, loving, omniscient and so on?

And how about that same God’s knowledge of genetics? Here’s an example from Genesis chapter 30:25-43 (especially verses 37-43):

Jacob’s Prosperity (the English Standard Version):

25 As soon as Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. 26 Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, that I may go, for you know the service that I have given you.”

27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, I have learned by divination that[k] the Lord has blessed me because of you. 28 Name your wages, and I will give it.” 29 Jacob said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you, and how your livestock has fared with me. 30 For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall I provide for my own household also?”

31 He said, “What shall I give you?” Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this for me, I will again pasture your flock and keep it: 32 let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and they shall be my wages. 33 So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come to look into my wages with you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, shall be counted stolen.”

34 Laban said, “Good! Let it be as you have said.” 35 But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in the charge of his sons. 36 And he set a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob pastured the rest of Laban’s flock.

37 Then Jacob took fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks. 38 He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, 39 the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted.

40 And Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban. He put his own droves apart and did not put them with Laban’s flock. 41 Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob would lay the sticks in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the sticks, 42 but for the feebler of the flock he would not lay them there. So the feebler would be Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s.

43 Thus the man increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Seemingly our omniscient God can never have heard of Gregor Mendel (see for example ).

Now I can hear some God believers (a.k.a. true believers) shout, “Hey, Gregor Mendel was born long after Jacob’s genetic experiment with goats and sheep, so why should Jacob know about modern genetics? Correct (in a way)! But all the words in the Bible are inspired by God Almighty, you know. And what’s more, according to the Holy Scripture God knows today (and knew yesterday) what will happen tomorrow (i.e. in the future). His creation plan is utterly predictable and deterministic. In Psalm 139:15-16 we can read (in the English Standard Version),

15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Enough said. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Genetics, Religion, Theological bullshit