Category Archives: Delusions

A paper showing a link between belief in gods and intolerance of strangers (outside your own group). LESS belief in gods equals MORE tolerant behavior towards strangers (immigrants).

By directing magnetic force – so-called TMS, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – towards the posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) of the brain, scientists from the University of York have found a relatively strong link between religious faith and intolerance. Anyone surprised?

The targeted region of the brain is associated with detecting and solving problems that threaten the individual’s security. The threat in this study was being reminded of death and mortality. Thinking of death and mortality normally lead to stronger beliefs in divine beings and afterlife.

But after the targeted brain region – pMFC – was temporarily shut down, the subjects were instead less inclined to reach for comforting religious ideas. In fact, they reported 32.8 per cent less belief in God, angels, or heaven after having their pMFC turned down! And at the same time they were also 28.5 per cent more positive in their feelings towards an immigrant who before the TMS treatment had criticised and derogated their native country.

The explanation? People often turn to ideology when they are confronted by problems. That is, they embrace – by trial and error learning and/or priming – a system of ideas and ideals, and this system then becomes their primary tool to reduce the fear factor (anxiety)  in their lives. Individuals of the same group (community) often learn from each other how to handle what causes fear and/or anxiety (in this case initiated by worry of death/mortality).

So belief in divine beings – as well as intolerance towards strangers threatening the harmony witihin a group of people – can be seen as a spin-off effect from ordinary problem solving. 

Read more about this interesting experiment here: http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/09/03/scan.nsv107.abstract (or here: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/0kj9w0km#page-1 ).

Finally the abstract:


People cleave to ideological convictions with greater intensity in the aftermath of threat.
The posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) plays a key role in both detecting discrepancies between desired and current conditions and adjusting subsequent behavior to resolve such conflicts.Building on prior literature examining the role of the pMFC in shifts in relatively low-level decision processes, we demonstrate that the pMFC mediates adjustments in adherence to political and religious ideologies.

We presented participants with a reminder of death and a critique of their in-group ostensibly written by a member of an out-group, then experimentally decreased both avowed belief in God and out-group derogation by down-regulating pMFC activity via transcranial magnetic stimulation.

The results provide the first evidence that group prejudice and religious belief are susceptible to targeted neuromodulation, and point to a shared cognitive mechanism underlying concrete and abstract decision processes.

We discuss the implications of these findings for further research characterizing the cognitive and affective mechanisms at play.

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Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems

The existence of a Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is often denied by true believers and others who support religious beliefs and think that religious faith is good for humanity.

But the RTS is, indeed, for real. Many tears have been shed because of that sort of traumas.

So, please, read Valerie Tarico’s take on this important topic very carefully.

Also read Marlene Winell’s take (in three parts) on that same subject on the Ex-Christian blog:

Part 1 = http://new.exchristian.net/2011/06/religious-trauma-syndrome-its-time-to.html .

Part 2 = http://new.exchristian.net/2011/07/understanding-religious-trauma-syndrome.html .

Part 3 = http://new.exchristian.net/2011/11/trauma-from-leaving-religion.html

It’s not going to extremes calling religion a poisonous method that obstructs and complicates people’s endeavours to find a high quality of life. It also hinders you from becoming a really “free” thinker, one who is allowed to study any books s/he likes.

Many philosophers, politicians and scientists have expressed their gloomy ideas of religion and its future.

For example, Karl Marx said: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”.

Frederick II once said: “Religion is the idol of the mob; it adores everything it does not understand”.

Napoleon Bonaparte said: “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich”.

Friedrich Nietzsche said. “In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point”.

He also said: “The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad”.

Albert Einstein (who didn’t believe in any personal God of the Abrahamic kind) said. Science without religion is lame, [but] religion without science is [also] blind.
At the same time he also said: “The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity”.

If Albert Einstein had been alive today, I think he would have stated: Things about religion seemingly have to become worse before they at last can be transformed to a non-poisonous life philosophy. There is still a very long way to go for today’s religions all around the world.

BTW, talking of promoting science and reason, have a look at this blog post: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/about-thinking/201510/what-can-we-learn-ben-carsons-brain .

From that blog post we learn that, unfortunately,neither intelligence nor (high) education is able to promote ‘good thinking’.

And finally, my own take on this:

Religious cults are nowadays mostly confined to having to rely on ‘God of the Gaps’ arguments. The primary goal for today’s cult leaders has become to try to convince their ignorant and incredulous followers that science is, always, wrong, meaning that it’s, also always, better to believe in what holy scriptures like the Bible and Koran say is the truth. That strategy is also known as intellectual dishonesty.

AwayPoint

Religious Trauma Syndrome- AnguishAt age sixteen I began what would be a four year struggle with bulimia.  When the symptoms started, I turned in desperation to adults who knew more than I did about how to stop shameful behavior—my Bible study leader and a visiting youth minister.  “If you ask anything in faith, believing,” they said.  “It will be done.” I knew they were quoting the Word of God. We prayed together, and I went home confident that God had heard my prayers.

But my horrible compulsions didn’t go away. By the fall of my sophomore year in college, I was desperate and depressed enough that I made a suicide attempt. The problem wasn’t just the bulimia.  I was convinced by then that I was a complete spiritual failure. My college counseling department had offered to get me real help (which they later did). But to my mind, at that point, such help…

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How sexually perverted is God? A peek at the twisted, warped and kinky sex acts in the animal kingdom.

At least all Christians know that God Himself prefers virgins. We also know that God hates homosexual copulation. And He loathes all masturbators.  (So whom does God really love? Are there any left deserving to be loved by God? Does anyone out there in cyber space know the answer to that question? The comment field below this post is open for you. Please, let me hear your take on this.)

By reading tn today’s post, about sex among (other) animals (than humans), I hope all of my readers will soon understand that God must be a very pervy divine creator entity.

At least if we suppose He (in most ways, though of course He is perfect) is like us humans. After all, God created us humans “in imaginem Sui”, in His own image. In Genesis 1:27 we can read: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Click this link – http://www.livescience.com/42295-animal-sex-tales.html – and you can read about how black widow spiders do it. All human descendants of Adam should praise the Lard for not having created Eve like that.

Here’s a quote from that arcticle: “With his sperm deposited, the male [spider] hightails out of [the coitus], lest he becomes a post-sex snack — at least for [such spider] species [females] that prefer a post-coital meal.”

Or what had God in His mind when He created the kangaroos, you know the Australian animals who came hopping all the way from today’s Australia to the Middle East to embark Noah’s ark to evade the Flood (the story recorded in Genesis 6–8).

Here’s another quote from the article: [Kangaroo] females have three vaginas — two for sperm and one in the middle for birthing. Males have long, double-headed penises to inseminate the lateral vaginas.” (Maybe kangaroo males are closely related to snakes, who knows – but God Almighty?)

And here’s a quote about how chimps do it: If a female is interested in a male, she’ll put her swollen bottom right up in his face. When a male wants sex, he shakes a tree branch or displays his erect penis to a female.
For more information about sex habits in the animal world, also see: http://www.livescience.com/52476-would-aliens-have-sex.html

In that article you can read this thrilling piece of information: Not all life on Earth requires sex for reproduction. Amoebas, yeast and millimeter-long freshwater hydra all manage to create offspring solo, as do many invertebrates. So do some surprisingly complex animals: Virgin births have been reported in Komodo dragons, pit vipers and sharks.

And this: In amoeba sex, for example, the cell partitions off packets of genetic material and then recombines them, either with another amoeba or with packets from other amoebas. Sexually reproducing yeast cells find each other, grow projections, merge and mate. The hermaphroditic C. elegans worm wiggles its body against another worm until it finds the vulva and then inserts needlelike structures called spicules into the opening to deliver sperm.

Who can deny that God must be a very creative divine entity? And,  seemingly, particularly interested in sex. Yes, it almost looks like God must be addicted to pervy sex habits.

But in that case, does this also mean God is taking care of all species He created in a good, benevolent, and loving way? I’m not so sure of that.Are you? The comment section below is meant for you.

In that same article I can read the following two sentences:

One stress that might prompt the evolution of sex […] might be […] parasites. Researchers reporting in 2011 in the journal Science found that, when given the choice, organisms pick sex over asexuality when parasites threaten, likely because sexual reproduction gives them more genetic weapons to use in the evolutionary arms race against their parasite foes.

Huh!? Sounds like God apparently created parasites to give Him a reason to also create sexual propagation.

But dear, God, Could you not find out a better way than creating deadly parasites to do that? I’m sorry, God, but now I feel an intensive urge for asking you the following question in my prayer to you tonight at the bedside: Is it, after all, true, Almighty God, what can be read about you in the Old Testament? That you are the greatest Killer who ever walked on the surface here on planet Earth?

Please, God, answer my prayer!

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Magical thinking springs up everywhere, and language is its accomplice. How language can and does deceive us.  

The human language came into existence with the help of the more primitive intuitive information processing system in our brains, the one that is specialized in, and focused on, magical and religious (bullshit) thinking. For details, see this blog post, https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/the-two-information-processing-systems-ipss-in-your-brain-one-is-woo-ish-the-other-is-rational/ ; and read this Wikipedia article,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking .

Magical thinking springs up everywhere. The phenomenon is in a way related to pareidoiia, our tendency to see human faces in patterns created by mould fungi or tree stumps, (see: http://www.livescience.com/25448-pareidolia.html ).

Emotional stress and events of personal significance push us strongly toward magical meaning-making.

Another important factor is time – or rather lack of time.

The IPS #1 is much faster than the rational and logical IPS #2 system. So if you are in a lack of time – i.e. when you have to make a quick decision – you tend to prefer teleological conclusions instead of more critical and questioning ones. If you can’t detect any visible cause, your IPS #1 has no problem inventing HCAs, Hidden Causal Agents. Cf. the invention of imaginary playmates in childhood or the creation of more or less omnipotent and omniscient divine beings in adulthood.

Our language is strongly influenced by the supposed – or at least presupposed – existence of HCAs. We use verbs that dupe us to think teleologically.

Let’s think of, for example, the verb “create”. Here are some synonyms: breed, bring about, build, cause, construct, contribute to, design, develop, engender, establish, fabricate, form, foster, generate, give rise to, initiate, launch, lead to, make, produce, promote, result in, set up, shape, sow the seeds of – need I mention any more?

Questions starting with a HOW, a WHAT or, above all, a WHY likewise prime your brain to think teleologically.

And, my third and last example, think of word constructions like “(in order) to”, meaning “used as a means of achieving a specified end/goal”.

If you don’t see my point by now, you must be blind on both eyes. 🙂 .

So no wonder we are ALL primed to think teleologically.

You can test yourself by pondering this simple sentence: “The sun is shining today and I feel warm.”

This sentence implies that the sun has – or at least may have – the intention, the purpose, to make me feel warm.

From there the next step can easily be to begin thinking of somewhat – or someone – that can explain WHY I feel a warming effect of the sunshine. For example a  divine being caring for me.

That’s the story behind Hidden Causal Agents that are created by your mind, with the help of magical and religious IPS #1 in your brain.

After this rather long introduction it’s time to recommend my readers to have a look at this interesting analysis, a blog post written by one of the bloggers I follow regularly, Tom Rees:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/epiphenom/2015/10/a-world-by-design-even-atheists-intuitively-think-the-natural-world-has-a-designer.html .

Here is a quote from his article:

Research over the past few years has shown that many people intuitively think that things in the natural world exist for some ulterior purpose – almost as if they had been designed that way. We have a tendency to agree with statements such as ‘water condenses to moisten the air’, or ‘the sun shines in order to keep us warm’.

And finally, here are the conclusions of the study that Tom Rees is referring to:

[1] These data strongly support the idea that humans have a natural tendency to see the natural world as having a designer.

[2] Even more strikingly, they suggest that atheists are not naturally immune to these intuitions. Rather, they  teach themselves to actively overcome them!

I myself would like to add: And true believers teach themselves – on their own or by the help of a pastor – to actively prime their minds that there must be a Creator and a first cause of everything that happens.

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REBLOGGED from I Doubt It: If you think Bigfoot is an interdimensional being, you’ve lost your footing.

Thank you, Sharon Hill, for this excellent and unveiling blog article!

I just have to share it with my followers.

Sharon shows her readers how magical and/or religious(like) thinking can end up in superstition of the most supernatural kind.

She discloses woo bullshit thinking and ditto reasoning at its best (or I should probably rather use the adverb “worst” here).

Anyhow, in her article she gives many examples of how true believers in woo bullshit both act and react. True believers are clearly emotion-driven. They use, also as adults, the same information processing system (in their brains) that prevails during childhood. Logical thinking is none ot their businesses.

(If interested, read more about the brain’s two information processing systems – a.k.a. IPSs – here: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/the-two-information-processing-systems-ipss-in-your-brain-one-is-woo-ish-the-other-is-rational/ . But now back to Sharon Hill.

Here are some quotes taken from her blog article.

She concludes:

1) Actively engaging in supernatural creep means you’ve crossed a line. No longer looking for a reasonable explanation, you have become unreasonable, uncritical, and lost in the spooky fog. No satisfactory answers can be found that way. You’ll only fall down deeper into the rabbit hole.

2) [The whole thing is] rather religious, if no rational evidence or discussion will work. I’ve heard it suggested more than once that UFOlogy, Bigfootology and ghostology are very much like religion. Spiritualism actually was one and there are several alien-themed religions and those based on nature spirits. It’s a short leap when belief is the priority.

Those are conclusions I myself can – and want to – subscribe to.

Sharon Hill really deserves great honor and praise for daring to speak out her mind on this woo-ish matter. So I want to finish this “introduction” by saying, BRAVO! Thank you so much for your brave and disclosing blog, Sharon!

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Just face the facts, there is no soul, there is no afterlife. It’s your wishful thinking that deceives you.

In the autumn of 2014 Dr. Sam Parnia’s long awaited AWARE study about the authenticity of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) as evidence of a surviving soul was published.

Dr. Parnia’s study can, at best, be described as very disheartening and depressing for those believing that NDEs are evidence of a soul that survives the bodily (physical) death.

Almost exactly a year ago I posted this blog focusing that interesting subject, see: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/as-i-said-before/

Now, a year later, I think it’s about time to have a new look at the NDE phenomena and how they can be explained without involving religious bullshit concepts like god(s), soul(s) or afterlife.

Let me start by asking you this question: Are you acquainted with a blog named “Imperfect Cognitions”?
Anyhow, it’s a site where all kinds of delusional beliefs, hallucinations and distorted memories are discussed:
In today’s newsletter from “Imperfect Cognitions” I found this blog post, written by Hayley Dewe, a PhD student from the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham. The title is: “Debunking Dualist Notions of Near-Death Experiences”.  You find her article here:  http://imperfectcognitions.blogspot.se/2015/09/debunking-dualist-notions-of-near-death.html .
Hayley Dewe’s research is based in The Selective Attention and Awareness laboratory, directed by Jason Braithwaite. Her research focuses on the neurocognitive correlates of anomalous (for example hallucinatory) experience, specifically pertaining to the ‘self’, embodiment, and consciousness.She explains NDEs in the following way:

NDEs are striking experiences that typically occur when one is close to death or exposed to life-threatening situations of intense physical and/or emotional danger (first coined by Moody 1975, Life after Life. New York: Bantam Books). This unusual experience includes a variety of aberrant components such as: sensations of peace and vivid imagery, bright flashes of light, the sensation of travelling through a dark tunnel towards a bright light, a disconnection from the physical body (a shift in perspective: the Out-of-Body Experience), and the sensation of entering a light / visions of an ‘afterlife’ etc.

And she continues:

From a parapsychological (or survivalist / supernatural) perspective, NDEs are understood as mystical and spiritual experiences that expose the individual to another world (or afterlife). This is taken as evidence for the survival of bodily death (i.e. dualism); that the mind/consciousness is not dependent on the brain.

In stark contrast is the scientific/neuroscience perspective. Here, it is argued that NDEs are hallucinatory phenomena, generated by a disinhibited and highly confused, dying brain (known as the ‘dying brain account’).

After this introduction she argues that:

#1: There are a host of logical fallacies and methodological discrepancies within the parapsychological literature.
#2: There appears to be no objective study validating the presence of an entirely inactive human brain with the simultaneous occurrence of an NDE!
#3: Even if there were evidence of a completely inactive brain, and subsequent recollection of an NDE, how could one pinpoint the precise time frame during which the NDE components occurred? That is, the NDE itself may well have occurred before levels of brain activity became ‘inactive’ (or ‘flattened’), or even experienced and recalled afterwards, during recovery.
#4: No component of the NDE is actually unique to the ‘near-death’ experience.
#5: As a matter of fact, you needn’t necessarily be ‘near to death’ to experience NDE phenomena.
So the only reasonable and likely conclusion seems to be: Dualist / Survivalist arguments of NDEs are, at the very best, flawed.
And I myself want to add here: They are not only flawed. They are completely wrong, built as they seem to be on wishful magical and religious bullshit thinking .
In short: THERE IS NO SOUL! Forget what you’ve read or heard about that religious bullshit concept.
And if souls don’t exist, the corollary must be: YOU’D BETTER FORGET ABOUT THE BELIEF IN AN AFTERLIFE, TOO.
For more details, see: https://www.skeptic.org.uk/magazine/onlinearticles/497-braithwaite-dying-brain (Towards a Cognitive Neuroscience of the Dying Brain), and:  https://www.academia.edu/10060970/Occams_Chainsaw_Neuroscientific_Nails_in_the_coffin_of_dualist_notions_of_the_Near-death_experience_NDE_  (Occam’s Chainsaw: Neuroscientific Nails in the Coffin of Dualist Notions of the Near-death Experience [NDE]).
In the coming weeks or months I hope to have time to blog about the non-existent soul and non-existent afterlife.
But for the time being I have to confine myself to recommend all (true) soul believers – that is those who refuse to abandon their bullshit ideas of soul and afterlife – to study the contents in blog posts like these: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/sean-carroll-we-dont-have-immortal-souls/ , http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2011/05/23/physics-and-the-immortality-of-the-soul/#.Vgrou3qqqko , and http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/there-is-no-life-after-death-sorry.html .
Need I say more? Yes, I think I also need to say that true believers are not so easily convinced that soul and afterlife are typical religious bullshit concepts. Sacrosanct beliefs, anchored in religious faith, are unfortunately extremely difficult to eradicate. For more details, see: https://victorianeuronotes.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/are-brainwashing-techniques-in-the-bible-and-strategically-used-in-churches/ .

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The Argument from Consistency (and Justice)

This blog post, reblogged from a blog called The Superstitious Naked Ape, is a good example of how capricious, evil, malicious, rancorous, malevolent, unjust, partial – you name it – the imaginary friend up in the sky, with omnipotent and omniscient powers, is. An imaginary friend and crackpot who calls himself I am that I am (Exodus 3:14), but is called God Almighty by his worshippers.

The author of the reblogged post, John Zande, also demonstrates how inconsistent this Almighty God is, especially when it comes to punishing people committing sins.

John Zande starts his analysis by retelling a story in Acts 5 about a couple in the early Christian commune, Ananias and his wife, Sapphira.

Both Ananias and Sapphira were killed by God for not telling the truth about what happened to some money they had had at their disposal.

Because Ananias and his wife were dishonest, God decided to kill them. Not only does God hate sins; he hates sinners as well, maybe even more than the sins.

This story in Acts 5 reminds me of what can be read in 2 Kings 2:23-24:

And [God’s beloved prophet Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

Those two verses bring up the question of how a prophet chosen by God Himself is allowed, by that same God, to call a deadly curse down upon a group of kids for taunting him about something as insignificant as baldness.

And maybe worst of all, Almighty God consents, without hesitating the least, to his prophet’s wish and uses/forces two she bears to accomplish the killing.

Anyhow, this is not the first time God kills children for misbehaving.

Here are four more examples:

#1: Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (demanding that children who refuse to obey their parents must be executed).

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

#2: Exodus 21:15

He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.

#3. Exodus 21:17

He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

#4. Proverbs 30:17

Children who mock their parents will have their eyes plucked out by ravens and eaten by eagles.The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

IMHO it’s one of life’s biggest riddles how on Earth there can be people who still worship such an evil, vengeful and inequitable God, who at the same time is so full of inconsistencies and biased partiality.

IN GOD WE TRUSTThe god of the Pentateuch does not exist. This is not news. The entire premise of such a being is as Jeremy Bentham would have said, “Nonsense on stilts”[1]… and we should all be very, very pleased that such a creature does not exist. The god of the Pentateuch is a bad god, and we can prove that here by something I’m calling The Argument from Consistency, or perhaps more accurately, The Argument from Consistency in Justice

A story is recounted in Acts 5 where a couple in the early Christian commune, Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, were killed by Yhwh for the (victimless) crime of lying.

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’…

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REBLOGGED: Additional notes on Never Let Me Go. Or: Why so many of us seek comfort from Hidden Causal Agents.

My friend Charles Rogers is, as always, full of both knowledge and wisdom. On his blog he likes to review books that have touched his heart and/or brain.

At the moment he and I are discussing a rather dystopian novel, “Never let me go”, written by Kazuo Ishiguro.

The message of that book is that life is not a rose garden. Instead life can be seen as a bumpy pathway full of disappointments and broken expectations. But at the same time, as Charles Rogers puts it, even a blind hog can sometimes find an acorn to eat; i.e. life contains both tricks and treats.

One of the many important messages from both Kazuo Ishiguro and Charles Rogers is that childhood matters – all life long.

Life is about how to endure living. How to survive in an a world loaded with atrocities and trying to do the best out of what is happening and evolving before your eyes.

Such questions and topics tend to lead to religion, or rather religious beliefs. In fact, eschatology can be defined as a part of theology, physics, and futurology, concerned with what are believed to be the final events of history, the ultimate destiny of humanity.

And that’s why I want to reblog this blog post.

To make it clearer for my own followers, I now add a comment that I wrote in the comment field of Mr. Rogers’ blog post. So now I quote myself (not only to inflate my own ego:

Now, after reading both the original review and this “supplement”, I come to think of what Schopenhauer once said/wrote: “In our early youth we sit before the life that lies ahead of us like children sitting before the curtain in a theater, in happy and tense anticipation of whatever is going to appear. Luckily we do not know what really will appear.”

Or in my own, more banal, words: The goal (of our lives) is, of course, of big interest, but what really matters is what happens during our life’s journey towards that goal.

Harshly speaking, the end station of our lives is always DEATH.
We will all arrive at that end station some day in our lives.
So why focus on that gloomy and dreadful “goal”?

IMHO it’s much better to try to live NOW – and try to do the best you can while living.

There is no second try for you (unless you are a true believer in religious bullshit dogmas).

Then the conclusion must be: Why not, like Kazuo Ishiguro (and now also Charles Rogers), instead, move the attention to our childhood. where it all starts?

Much of our lives revolves around that period of life – even later on, after entering adulthood.

Being a child means being malleable – and full of expectations. You have your whole (at least almost) in front of you.

Some of us are lucky to be born into a – put in your words, Mr. Rogers – “loving environment in which [to be] reared and educated”.

Others, like me, drew a blank.

I think most of us draw blanks.

That is, we grow up—if we are lucky—in security and wonder, and afterwards we are delivered to the grotesque goals of life, that usually are not chosen by us.

Therefore it’s not hard for me to agree with you, Charles, that “it can’t be insignificant that [Kazuo Ishiguro] was born in Nagasaki only fifteen years after an atomic bomb leveled it”.

Vestigia terrent! (The footprints are frightening!)

You can’t avoid being influenced, both consciously and unconsciously, of your heritage.

In fact, it’s impossible to evade your sociocultural and genetic heritage.

That’s why I, the atheist, “believe” that folks, in order to survive their perceived Weltschmerz – find it easier to start believing in Hidden Causal Agents (HCAs) a.k.a. gods.

It’s so easy, and sometimes also comforting, to close down one’s critical thinking and instead become a true believer.

In short, many people prefer to enter into a kind of cocooned version of reality, hoping that such a choice (I doubt it is of “free will”) will provide some psychological comfort.

I now want to pose this question to you, KK: Have you seen – or heard of – the movie “Brazil” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil_(1985_film) ?

I myself imagine that there are some simlilarities between Kazuo Ishiguro (or his dystopian novel) and that movie.

The protagonist enters his own little fantasy world and feels at peace living there, obviously oblivious to the grim reality that is taking place outside his own little comfortable “bubble”.

The message is clear: You can’t evade your past. But, and this is important, you ARE able to influence the one you are today and, maybe, at least partly, the one you’re going to be tomorrow.

As far as I understand it, Kazuo Ishiguro is a dystopian author. But, if I have understood your book review correctly, Charles, life is still – and will always be – about never to surrender too easily to setbacks and misfortune.

We all have to understand, and accept, that life contains both tricks and treats.

And that the choice is partly yours. Cf. the controversial view that depression is a learnt “behavior”.

Charles Clanton Rogers

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Although bbnewsab conceded that my review of Never Let Me Go was my best effort thus far, my Swedish critic  required some “more blood out of the stone”.     ; o)>

[An aside: Although I don’t recall that Ishiguro has mentioned it, it can’t be insignificant that he was born in Nagasaki only fifteen years after an atomic bomb leveled it.]

The following is an attempt to placate PV (bbnewsab). The “rest of you may talk amongst yourselves” while he and I sort out the lack of my first attempt at a review.(ha ha not seriously)

bbnewsab:  “But I don’t quite understand what emotions or feelings this book woke up in your brain and your heart, KK.
I can easily understand the anger and disgust you must have felt by reading about, for example, Joseph Mengele’s twin experiments and other horrible Holocaust memories brought up to the surface by Kazuo Ishiguro.

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Speaking of how religious beliefs can poison the mind of a true believer, here’s just ONE terrifying example.

This story made its way to the newsdesks here in Sweden the other day.

It’s about a 47-year-old man accused of murdering his nine-year-old daughter and assaulting his own wife and an older stepdaughter (plus the boyfriend of this stepdaughter), trying to kill them too.

The man is suspected to suffer from severe religious delusions. *well, I’m not the least surprised*

He has himself told the police that God ordered him to wring the neck of her daughter in order to kill her. When he hesitated, he was promised by God that this “act of love” would guarantee his daughter an eternal life in Heaven.

“I was deceived by the devil all the time”, the man said in the first hearing after the murder.

On 9 July this summer the 47-year-old company director was arrested in his own home, suspected to have stabbed her nine-year-old daughter to death in that same family house.

The man was taken by police to a psychiatric emergency department.

The day after the girl’s death the first hearing was held with the murderer. According to the interrogation documents the 47-year-old-man asked the interrogator to let him meet his nine-year-old daughter again, whom he was convinced now had been resurrected to a new life, because God the Almighty had promised him that would be the case.

Later in the same interrogation the man tells the interrogator that he obviously, during the last months, seems to have been duped by the Devil. Satan must have pretended to be God and being the one communicating with him.

“One minute I feel like I have sold my soul to God, the other second, it feels like I’ve sold my soul to the devil, the man told the interrogator.

The man also says that he grew up in a religious home and that his own father was a pastor in a Pentecostal church he himself had founded.

In subsequent questionings, the man tells the interrogator that he has been on heavy medication due to sleep problems. He also discloses that earlier in his life he has been a drug addict, and that psychiatric doctors have told him that he manifested distinct psychotic symptoms.

During the interrogations the man also admits that he obviously must have suffered from religious delusions. He says that God used to speak to him through persons, particularly children, in his surroundings and through radio or television broadcasts.

The man also tells what happened on that special day he murdered his own nine-year-old daughter. He says the delusions took a new turn during the day when his daughter was murdered. He felt as if God spoke directly into his brain that day.

“The voice of God told me to go out in the backyard of the house and ask my daughter, who was playing there, to join him.

While standing there in the backyard waiting for his daughter to come to him. he says he was instructed by God to count down from three to zero. He was also told, by God, that when saying ZERO, he would immediately be shot to death.

Since the man wanted to obey God, he began counting down and came to ZERO, without anything happening. He was of course surprised, but interpreted it as he, like once Abraham, just had passed a divine test.

The man also says that he was convinced that if he refused to obey what God told him to do, then he would be punished. And the punishment for disobedience of God’s will is, as “all know”, an eternity of suffering in Hell.

Back in the house, now together with his daughter, the voices in his head soon returned, leading to devastating consequences.

During the interrogation, the man says that God soon demanded him to break the neck of his own nine-year-old daughter.

When he hesitated, God promised him that his daughter would of course be resurrected, She would wake up to eternal life.Because he loved his daughter so much, the man couldn’t resist that promise or offer by God. Who wants to prohibit an eternal life in Heaven for his own children?

So the man made now a first attempt to break the neck of her daughter, but was unsuccessful.

The daughter was able to break free and ran up to her room on the upper floor in the house and tried to block the door.

The man tried to open the door, but realized he couldn’t. So he went back, downstairs, heading for the kitchen. There he took a knife from a drawer. With the knife in his right hand he returned back to the girl’s room and soon managed to open the door.

The man’s wife (and also the girl’s mother) heard there was a fuss, with a lot of screaming, going on upstairs, so she decided to find out what was going on.

Despite attempts by the mother to prevent him, the husband managed to give his (and her) own daughter multiple stabs with the kitchen knife, and soon those stab wounds caused the girl’s death.Afterwards the man attacked his own wife with his knife. And also the wife’s adult daughter from a previous relationship, who now appeared on the upper floor of the house, together with her boyfriend.

All three were attacked by the the 47-year-old man, and hurt by him and his knife. But he didn’t manage to give them any deadly wounds.

The man admits that everything points toward the fact that his own physical body must have performed all these terrifying acts, but he claims that he himself – that is his soul – can’t have been present when all these wrongdoings happened in the house. So the real murderer is no other than – Satan. The Devil Himself.

Are there still any followers of my blog who don’t understand why I call religion a poisonous and detrimental delusion?

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Are Brainwashing Techniques in the Bible and Strategically Used in Churches? Facts and consequences of priming.

Thanks to God (?) – yeah, praise the Lord! Amen! – I recently became acquainted with Victoria Neuronotes. She’s a BRILLIANT antitheist blogger, full of both wits and knowledge. And yes, sometimes she also speaks words of wisdom. She knows from her own experience how poisonous religious thoughts can be. So i will in the weeks to come reblog some of her many clever posts on my own blog, starting with this one. Indeed, she deserves many readers. And followers.

In her blog post Victoria – her name means “the victorious one”; God seemingly chose a good name for her – Amen! – focuses on different brainwashing techniques, used by spokesmen who promote the belief that there is an equivalent of childhood’s imaginary friend (sometimes more than just one, though) living somewhere in the sky (heavens).

An imaginary friend, usually full of benevolence, omniscience, and omnipotence – and, of course, always loving and caring for you, provided that you 1) believe He exists, and 2) are willing to help promoting His good advice and commandments by donating money to people, often called priests, chosen by God to spread His message all around the world.

A very interesting question is this one: How can grown-up persons continue to embrace the “out of this world” concept of an imaginary friend living, usually hidden, somewhere in the sky? (As I myself use to say to answer that question, “Only God knows…”)

Anyhow, in this reblogged post Victoria describes common techniques used by those who promote God’s lovable (?) and caring (?) message.

These techniques can be summarized in one word, BRAINWASHING.

Another word for brainwashing is PRIMING. Just google the words RELIGIOUS + PRIMING, and you’ll find almost countless of good articles and papers dealing with the effects of religious priming (a.k.a. brainwashing).

For example this one, https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/47943/priming%20papers/ejsp834.pdf .

Or this one, https://www.uclouvain.be/cps/ucl/doc/psyreli/documents/2009.IJPR.Submission.pdf .

Some details about paper #1:

TITLE: When authoritarianism meets religion: Sacrificing others in the name of
abstract deontology.

AUTHORS: Matthieu van Pachterbeke, Christopher Freyer, and Vassilis Saroglou.

ABSTRACT: Authoritarianism is a stable construct in terms of individual differences (social attitudes based on personality and values), but its manifestations and behavioral outcomes may depend on contextual factors. In the present experiment, we investigated whether authoritarianism is sensitive to religious influences in predicting rigid morality. Specifically, we investigated whether authoritarians, after supraliminal religious priming, would show, in hypothetical moral dilemmas, preference for impersonal societal norms even at the detriment of interpersonal, care-based prosociality toward proximal persons and acquaintances in need. The results confirmed the expectations, with a small effect size for the religious priming vs. authoritarianism interaction. In addition, these results were specific to participants’ authoritarianism and not to their individual religiosity. The interaction between authoritarian dispositions and religious ideas may constitute a powerful combination leading to behaviors that are detrimental for the well-being and the life of others, even proximal people, in the name of abstract deontology.

Some details about paper #2:

TITLE: “Speak, Lord, Your Servant Is Listening”: Religious Priming Activates Submissive Thoughts and Behaviors.

AUTHORS: Vassilis Saroglou, Olivier Corneille, and Patty Van Cappellen.

ABSTRACT: According to many theoretical perspectives, religion is positively associated with submission and conformity. However, no study to date provided xperimental evidence for this hypothesis. We did so in two experiments that relied on priming procedures. In Experiment 1, participants were tested for the strength of their religion-submission associations by using a lexical decision task. In Experiment 2, participants were primed with either religious or neutral concepts and were invited or not by the experimenter to take revenge on an individual who had allegedly criticized them. Both studies provided evidence for the expected religion-submission association, although the effects were limited to participants scoring high in personal submissiveness. Among these individuals, religious priming increased the accessibility of submission-related concepts (Experiment 1) and the acceptance of a morally problematic request for revenge (Experiment 2). Discussion focuses on questions for future research and implications for our understanding of religion’s role in morality and interpersonal relations.

The wordings in both abstracts can, according to me, be reworded in the following manner:

Religion is built on associative, emotional thinking (which is the opposite of logical and critically analyzing thinking), and is full of intellectual vices. For more details, have a look at this Wikipedia article; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking . And this article, found in the Aeon Magazine: http://aeon.co/magazine/philosophy/intellectual-character-of-conspiracy-theorists/ .

Qualities like submissive behavior, obedience, and belief in authorities are encouraged and exhorted. Religious people are strongly advised and admonished to be accepting, not criticizing, what their leaders tell them to do, act, and believe. The key word here is CONFORMITY. Discord leads to bad feeling, feuding, and conflicts. So tell me, is that the higher “meaning of life”? (See there a so-called rhetorical question.)

Anyhow, this is why priming/brainwashing is a common technique used in religious groups in order to establish concord and unity. (And it also opens up to thinking of we and them, i.e. we are better than those others not sharing our beliefs, faith and values.)

Victoria NeuroNotes

Brainwashing and mind control techniques have been used by dictators, their agents and cult leaders throughout history. While it took me years to come to this understanding, it became apparent to me, through my research, that the Bible could be used as a tool for

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