Category Archives: Psychology

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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The Individual, Family, and Tribe: An Essay about the Evolutionary Origin of Homo Sapiens.

This is a quite impressive – yes, I would call it an excellent – blog post about the evolutionary origin of our own species, Homo Sapiens.

The blogger, Charles Rogers, ponders, above all, the question: Who are we? But he is also interested in this question: Why are we like we are?

Related to that second question is this one: Why are we constantly striving to trying to find the “Holy Grail”, i.e. the meaning of our lives? (The answers can probably be found inside ourselves, in our brains, how they are wired. And that wiring is, in turn, best explained by looking back at our evolutionary origin/history.)

Charles Rogers is constantly looking for the answers of such questions by reading a lot of books, both fiction and non-fiction ones. He is obviously eager to come across what others have found in their quest of explanations.

Among his references can be found – just to mention only a few of them – a philosopher (Friedrich Nietzsche), a neurologist and psychiatrist/psychologist (Viktor Frankl), a professor of chemistry (Addy Pross), and, above all, the world famous neuroendocrinologist, professor of biology, neuroscience, and neurosurgery, Robert Sapolsky.

So it should go without saying that this blog post is very interesting to read and mull. It’s not only concerned with the question: From where do we, Homo Sapiens, originate?

Another important question is this one: What is the meaning of our lives?

Charles Rogers’ own take on this seems to be: “It is clear to me that the basic ‘Why’ is our family and our tribe.”

That is, we are strongly connected/related to each other. (That’s why Mr. Rogers himself, a professor emeritus, uses his own blog in order to build (symbolic) bridges thereby trying to make it easier for people all over the world to connect with each other.

So I’m not at all surprised to find this quote among his “mantras”: “We think we are separate, but we are one.”

Unfortunately I miss at least ONE important aspect of the human evolutionary history in this blog post. I want more facts and opinions of the evolution of religion, man’s perpetual companion.

But maybe Mr. Rogers will discuss that matter in another blog post later on? Let’s hope that will be the case.

Suffice it to say, in this comment of mine, that evolution seemingly has wired the human brain to look for, and easily find, a more or less strong correlation between teleological thinking and preference for religious motives.

In short, our human brains intuitively perceive purpose-driven design in the world around us.

The stronger this quest for (finding a) purpose is, the stronger our pro-theist preferences become.

If we can’t see whose purpose/intention it is that/when something happens, we are extremely prone to invent Hidden Causal Agents (HCAs) to find the reason behind all that happens to us and in our environments.

If you are interested, you can read more about these ideas here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking . And/Or 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/ .

Charles Clanton Rogers

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Introduction:

“We think we are separate, but we are one.”  

 “He who has a Why to live can bear almost any How” (1)

It is clear to me that the basic “Why” is our family and our tribe.

I. Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (2) : You can live without someone who says: you are mine; You can not live without someone who says: ‘I am yours”  May you be blessed with at least one such person in life!”  The family and tribe is at its best when several individuals feel this ownership to one another. Ishiguro on platonic love is reviewed in the two links:

http://therogerspost.com/2015/09/14/never-let-me-go/

http://therogerspost.com/2015/09/16/never-let-me-go-2/

II. Addy Pross, What is Life, (3)  How Chemistry Becomes Biology.   

  th-7

In the beginning, non-living carbon-based chemicals joined to become “living” nucleic acids (DNA) manifesting a new force.This effect is characterized by an irrepressible self-replication…

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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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REBLOGGED: Bible vs Quran—Test Your Knowledge of Who Deserves Death in Which Religion. About the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism and violence.

About the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism and violence

According to the social sciences religion increases trust among congregants (i.e. among those who already know each other by belonging to the same group). But at the same time religion causes trust to drop towards unfamiliar people (i.e. those outside the congregation or group).

That’s why religion (religious faith) correlates so well with xenophobia and racism. For more details, see http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Xenophobia.aspx .

Here’s an interesting quote from that article:

[I]t is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction between racism and xenophobia because they exhibit similar motivations for exclusive behavior designed to demean others and the exercise of political violence. However, there is one element missing in racism that is often present in xenophobia: religious identity. Manifestations of xenophobia occur not only against people with different physical characteristics but also against those of similar background who are believed to hold different and presumably dangerous and hostile religious convictions.

When it comes to the point of relationship, specifically, between religion and violence, see for example http://atheism.about.com/od/religiousviolencecauses/ .

OK, I admit that not all pundits agree with my somewhat simplified correlations that seem to show how toxic religious faith can be with regard to interpersonal relationships. Karen Armstrong, for example, is of a different opinion, see this review of one of her books: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/25/-sp-karen-armstrong-religious-violence-myth-secular .

But if I am to be accused of being a cherry-picker, then all those denying or minimizing the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism, and violence clearly must be cherry-pickers as well.

As a matter of fact, my views on this relationship are more mainstream than Karen Armstrong’s. Have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_violence#Abrahamic_religions .

Let me quote from that Wikipedia article:

Some critics of religion such as Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer argue that all monotheistic religions are inherently violent. For example, Nelson-Pallmeyer writes that “Judaism, Christianity and Islam will continue to contribute to the destruction of the world until and unless each challenges violence in “sacred texts” and until each affirms nonviolent power of God.”

Hector Avalos argues that, because religions claim divine favor for themselves, over and against other groups, this sense of righteousness leads to violence because conflicting claims to superiority, based on unverifiable appeals to God, cannot be adjudicated objectively.

Similarly, Eric Hickey writes, “(t)he history of religious violence in the West is as long as the historical record of its three major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, with their involved mutual antagonisms and struggles to adapt and survive the secular forces that threaten their continued existence.”

Regina Schwartz argues that all monotheistic religions, including Christianity, are inherently violent because of an exclusivism that inevitably fosters violence against those that are considered outsiders. Lawrence Wechsler asserts that Schwartz isn’t just arguing that Abrahamic religions have a violent legacy, but that the legacy is actually genocidal in nature.

Bruce Feiler writes that “Jews and Christians who smugly console themselves that Islam is the only violent religion are willfully ignoring their past. Nowhere is the struggle between faith and violence described more vividly, and with more stomach-turning details of ruthlessness, than in the Hebrew Bible”.

(END OF QUOTE)

Anyhow, it would have been very interesting to ponder how Karen Armstrong and her followers would have answered, and commented on, this quiz of 30 holy verses, taken from the Bible or Qu’ran that Valerie Tarico, one of my favorite bloggers, wants her readers to take.

You don’t even need to take the quiz to understand that Abrahamic religions have caused many sufferings and wrong-doings both past and present.

So, thank you very much, Valerie, for this disclosing quiz and blog post!

AwayPoint

quran vs bible 2The world has watched in horror while members of ISIS justify the next mass murder or icy execution with words from the Quran, followed by shouts of Allahu Akbar—God is the greatest! If beliefs have any power whatsoever to drive behavior—and as a psychologist I think they do—there can be little doubt that the Quran’s many endorsements of violence play a role in how exactly ISIS has chosen to pursue religious and political dominion.

At the same time, it should be equally clear a sacred text filled with violence is insufficient to trigger mass brutality unless other conditions are present as well. Culture, empathy, education and empowerment—and other factors that scholars understand only in part—appear to have a protective influence, safeguarding even most fundamentalists against the worst teachings of their own tradition. We know this in part because the Bible contains commandments and stories that are as horrific as…

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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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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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Lawrence Krauss on the xenophobia inherent in religion

Earlier this week I drawed my own blog followers’ attention to the relationship between religion and conflicts/wars, by referring, in general, to data available at the Correlates of War project, and, in more specific details, to an interesting paper, entitled “Statistical look at reasons of involvement in wars”, written by Igor Mackarov; see: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1508.06228v2.pdf .

After having read this new blog post here at Why Evolution Is True, and listened to the attached video clip, I find that our topics and takes on religion are much the same.

There is definitely a more or less strong relation between true believers, especially religious ones, and atrocities of different kinds, ranging from (sexual) abuse within the family to proper wars between clans or countries.

Maybe worst of all, sometimes those atrocities, in the name of one god or another, seem to be caused without malicious intentions. That’s why religion is a dangerous thing, “largely because religion is divisive and promotes xenophobia”.

For even more details, see: http://archiv.ub.uni-marburg.de/mjr/pdf/2002/rev_schoen_2002.pdf

Why Evolution Is True

Here’s a new seven-minute Big Think video in which physicist and anti-theist Lawrence Krauss discusses religion. While he notes that faith has some good aspects, his overall take is negative, largely because religion is divisive and promotes xenophobia.

I find it heartening that this strong criticism of faith appears on places like The Big Think, but a little bird told me that Dr. Krauss has another fusillade that will appear soon. In my view, now is no time to retreat from the atheist critique of religion. As Lawrence notes, each time a decent person comes out as a rationalist or atheist, it shows others that we are not monsters, and gives a little nudge towards unbelief to those on the fence. And, as Jeff Tayler noted in a Salon piece about the Republican penchant for outdoing each other in crazy protestations of faith:

Discussing religion freely and critically will desacralize it, with…

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Many woos, both magical believers and (pseudo)religious ones, are INFJ, or INFP, according to the MBTI Personality Test.

Earlier today I wrote a blog post, in which I focused the woo-personality.

I mentioned that according to a personality test called Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Test many woos tend to end up -or should I instead perhaos write come out – as INFJs.

This four-letter combination INFJ is one of the 16 possible personaliity outcomes in the MBTI test. 

This test is based on C.G. Jung’s theory of psychological type. It shows/reports your preferences on four scales.

Each scale represents two opposite preferences.

The four letters are said to make up your personality type, which in turn can help you understand yourself and your interactions with others.

If you want more detailed information, read about the eight letters used in the MBTI test, and their sixteen possible 4-letter-combinations, here: http://davidmarkley.com/personality/letters.htm .

Or here: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/ .

If you already know what personality type you are, read more here: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/the-16-mbti-types.htm 

Like I said in the earlier blog post, many woos get this 4-letter combination: INFJ. 

An INFJ person often seeks meaning and connection in ideas, relationships, and material possessions. He – or more common she – wants to understand what motivates people. They are often also insightful about others. They act conscientiously and are committed to their firm values. 

Typically, they develop a clear vision about how best to serve the common good. The see themselves as chosen ones, i.e. they experience that they have been granted to look into other dimensions and realities. 

Therefore they tend to dislike skeptics and others who don’t share their view of what life is and what the “destiny” of humankind is (according to the hiddenly plan that once was implemented by the Cosmic Intelligence, God or what you prefer toll call that force and power. 

INFJs are usually strongly committed to fulfill what they consider their Cosmic Intelligence once decided for them and their life journey. Therefore they act in an organized way and are decisive in implementing their vision(s).  For INFJs the destination of their life journey tend to be more important than the journey itself (cf. the concept of karma). 

Just a few – between 2 and 3 – percent of the population are INFJs. 

The same goes for those with an INFP-personality. Just 2-3 percent of the population are

INFPs constitute the other big woo-ish personality group in the MBTI test,  Usually they are described as Idealistic and known for their loyalty to their sacrosanct values and to people who play an important role for them in their lives.

They strive to make their own “external” life congruent with their “internal” (i.e. inner and more or less sacrosanct) life values. 

Other people often describe INFPs as curious, open-minded people, wanting to explore all kinds of life’s (and afterlife’s) possibilities, Like other sectarian people they act politely as long as they don’t feel being under attack (they often wish each other “Peace & Love” when meeting and upon leaving). 

In their lives they are constantly striving and trying to reach their life goals (often they feel or experience that those life goals have been given them by a kind of HCA (Hidden Causal Agent) a.k.a. the “Cosmic Intelligence”; they dislike and even avoid using the word “God” when talking of this HCA that rules ther life. Most of the time, INFPs aim at fulfilling their own life potential. That’s why the life journey itself seems to be so important to them, sometimes often more significant than the life goals themselves. 

If their sacrosanct life values are threatened, for instance by a skeptic or an afterlife denier, the INFPs quickly kiss goodbye to their “Peace & Love”-greetings and try instead to diminish and denigrate their opponents. 

BTW, that’s probably why I am hated by so many woos. both the magical and (pseudo)religious ones. Just a little more than a week ago one religious woo, believing in Allah, told me he wanted to cut my throat off in order to stop my blasphemous way of debating religious issues. 

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