Category Archives: Soul

About woo-ism, psychiatric symptoms and immune system disturbances

Autoimmune and inflammatory activities in the brain seem to be linked with psychiatric symptoms. Have a look at this article: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/25/451169292/could-depression-be-caused-by-an-infection

I even suspect there may be a positive correlation between woo-ism (believing woo experiences must be true/genuine/real phenomena PLUS also displaying a higher disposition towards experiencing such paranormal – and psychic – phenomena).

It’s undeniable that there exists an overlap between mental and physical illness. They have many symptoms in common.

Furthermore, lately researchers have detected a network of vessels that seem to be able to directly connect the brain with the immune system, so it’s not farfetched to assume that neuroinflammatory and/or neurodegenerative diseases are associated with immune system dysfunction.

For details, see: http://www.nature.com/articles/nature14432.epdf?referrer_access_token=M_gEqyTF4woL1TO0pPtt_dRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0PP9svrp_06Oir1YyDWe7ejvVLL2VbrH_EwNtYJfrQFs76c429WdrHUa3kC6-ROdf0a_sf0Wq3y-_lXvDuWqqE81teEmgu9jJgiCo644XrZpoQFLHRhQL_oQbZPSnuILCbsmK4rEXRW91jKrI6Im8RIguooFs6WobJt6z2yuX7A2pJD0k4VDG0jAeie6V4PmjIrmox96-6NYWQfQMxCVLxb&tracking_referrer=www.npr.org .

There are also many indications that stressors of any kind, especially in childhood, can activate our immune system. A hyperactive immune system alarm goes hand in hand with autoimmune diseases. And woo believers are known to have more autoimmune disorder diagnoses than non-woo believers.

Examples of such stressors are physical abuse, sexual abuse, feelings of neglect and grief, nutritional deficiencies, sleep deprivation, and much more. A childhood full of stressors like these might pave the ground for woo beliefs later on.

This finding is, in turn, completely compatible with the positive correlation between woo believers and mental disorders like depression, GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. And those diagnoses are, in turn, suspected to be caused, partly, by an infection that has activated the immune-inflammatory system of their bodies.

So it’s easy to imagine that both stressors (like those I just mentioned) and Infections during childhood – maybe already in the womb – might work in concert with genetics to make that individual (already as a fetus) sensitive to not only psychosocial factors but also to become prone to believe in, and experience, paranormal phenomena.

BTW, Here’s a book I can recommend to all those interested in the woo-personality traits: http://www.davidritchey-author.com/hoa.htm .

The author David Ritchey summarizes his findings here: http://www.davidritchey-author.com/hoa-findings.htm . The following six points are listed (especially point #5 is of extra interest here):

1. Various factors including Biology (“nature”), Trauma and Abuse (“nurture”) and Temperament Type Preferences (“personality”) can predispose an individual to be an Anomalously Sensitive Person (ASP).

2. If an individual is anomalously sensitive in one realm (the “Physiological,” for example), s/he is very likely to be anomalously sensitive in the other realms (“Cognitive,” “Emotional,” “Altered States of Consciousness” and “Transpersonal Experiences”) as well.

3. The Anomalously Sensitive Person is likely to: be female, be hypopigmented (blond hair/blue eyes), be Non-Right-Handed (left-handed or ambidextrous), be artists, be born as one of a set of twins/triplets/etc. and have an other-than-conventionally heterosexual sexual orientation.

4. The Anomalously Sensitive Person is likely to: have an Introverted (rather than Extraverted) Orientation, have a preference for an Intuitive (rather than Sensate) mode of Perceiving and have a preference for a Feeling (rather than Thinking) mode of Judging.

5. The Anomalously Sensitive Person is likely to: have unusually sensitive immune systems, be highly reactive/responsive to sensory stimuli, exhibit learning/attention styles that differ from the norm, be very attuned to the emotions of both themselves and others, be especially facile at accessing Altered States of Consciousness and to frequently have Transpersonal (“metaphysical,” “paranormal,” “psychic”) Experiences.

6. The HISS data support the position of those negativists who hold that anomalous sensitivity is indicative of temporo-limbic epilepsy. The HISS data also support the position of those positivists who hold that anomalous sensitivity is indicative of kundalini arousal. The HISS data also support those who have no position and hold that anomalous sensitivity is indicative of anomalous sensitivity.

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How smells can influence and bias your mind (not only the smell of fear). Why ghost believers and ghost busters often have scary feelings.

Your brain is able to literally smell the sense of fear. It’s not a sixth sense. Nothing paranormal or supernatural at all.

Instead, this unconscious ability can help explain, for example, why ghost believers, if being in the same allegedly haunted house, often trigger each other to share the same spooky experience. 

As a matter of fact, the smell of fear is very contagious (cf. the mass hysteria phenomenon, in which a large group of people exhibit the same state of mental agitation). 

In many animals this ability to smell the chemicals of fear is pretty advanced. Just think of dogs who nowadays are trained for detecting cancer, bomb chemicals, truffle, dope – you name it. 

It’s all about the vomeronasal organ (VNO), an auxillary olfactory organ located in the brain. The VNO contains sensory neurons specialized to detect chemical stimuli. These neurons target the amygdala, the brain’s fear center. 

The vomeronasal system is important for reproduction and social behavior (think of pheromones, chemical substances secreted externally in order to influence the physiology and behavior of others belonging to the same species). 

The presence of a VNO structure in adult human beings is still debated, expecially how functional such a VNO in adult human beings might be. For details, have a look at this paper: http://chemse.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/4/433.full . 

Here’s a quote from the abstract: [There are] conflicting evidence for and against human VNO function but chemical communication does appear to occur among humans. However, several examples reported in the literature do not meet the proposed definition for communication by pheromones: ‘chemical substances released by one member of a species as communication with another member, to their mutual benefit’.

And here are three more articles about this interesting topic: 1) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/3545435/The-smell-of-fear-is-real-claim-scientists.html  (Title: The smell of fear is real, claim scientists); 2) http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/10/20/4333431.htm (Title: Sharing the scent of fear); and 3) http://www.livescience.com/24578-humans-smell-fear.html (Title: Humans smell fear, and it’s contagious). 

Many woos are convinced that they can detect paranormal scents. For instance the scent of a ghost. Here is one of the best articles I’ve found on that matter:  http://www.assap.ac.uk/newsite/articles/Paranormal%20smells.html (Title Paranormal smells). Highly recommendable reading! 

Among the bizarre olfactory phenomena mentioned in that article are phantom smells, for example phantosmia. This is a form of olfactory hallucination, i.e. the perception of a smell in the absence of any physical odors.

If there is a misinterpretation of an existent physical stimulus,the proper medical term is parosmia. Such olfactory dysfunctions (a.k.a. dysomias) are characterized by the inability of the brain to properly identify an odor’s “natural” smell. 

These distortions of smell are not as common as phantom smells, but parosmia is still something that must be taken into consideration whenever a certain odor is associated with a haunting. 

Among ghost hunters a well-known sub-category of parosmia is known as troposmia or cacosmia. 
 
What then happens in the ghosthunter’s brain is that the natural odor is transcribed into what is most often described as an unpleasant aroma, typically a burned, rotting, fecal, or chemical (like sulphurous) smell. (So its not a totally odd idea to believe some ghost “souls” seemingly must have been dwelling in Hell before returning to the surface of Earth in order to pay us a visit.) 
 
Nevertheless, sometimes there might instead be instances of pleasant scents. so-called euosmia (which perhaps may induce thoughts of an afterlife in Heaven).
 
Because foul odors are so easily associated with negative hauntings, falsely smelling a foul odor may cause a bias in perception of a haunting.
 
Smells are known to become trapped in fabrics, wooden structures, even masonry and so on. The scent ions may be released years later, if the right humidity, temperatures, or barometric pressures are at hand. 
 
So, just to summarize: Neither conscious nor unconscious odors are proof of any ghost activity. But smells are able to influence and bias your mind, especially if you are a woo that has primed your brain to process information in a magical and religious way by clinging to the intuitive, illogical and preposterous information processing system a.k.a. IPS #1, the way a child’s mind is processing information. For more details, see:  https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/the-two-information-processing-systems-ipss-in-your-brain-one-is-woo-ish-the-other-is-rational/ .

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17 not-so-stupid questions for Atheists

I found this nice and lovely post on Tiffany’s Non-Blog (run by Tiffany267, a “professional” bullshit debunker and, at the same time, pearl finder); see: https://tiffany267.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/questions-for-atheists-asked-and-answered/

Tiffany267 tells her followers that the original post can be read here: https://boldquestions.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/17-not-so-stupid-questions-for-atheists/

She also gave this motivation for “reblogging” the post: “One of my favorite atheist bloggers shared this list of questions targeted to atheists and some wonderful responses. Please enjoy!”

I just say: Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I – and seemingly Tiffany267 – did.

From now on I’m following this “Question With Boldness” blog.

Question With Boldness

Godless Mom was contacted by a christian student with a series of questions.  And, surprise, instead of being “gotcha” questions, they seem to be actual genuine questions, a real effort to understand non-belief.  So I’ll answer them here, and also cross-post them in the comments to the original blog entry, here:

http://godlessmom.com/questions-for-atheists-from-a-college-student-answer-them-yourself/?utm_content=buffera2f92&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Other bloggers and commenters have answered them, but I’m going to give my own answers without comparison to theirs.  So I apologize if this comes out as repetitive.

1. Why are you an atheist?

Because I don’t have enough evidence to warrant belief in any god.

2. Have you ever believed in a Higher Power?

Sure, I was raised liberal Protestant, and it was just the assumption everyone made.  God’s in charge, Jesus loves you, so let’s sing some more songs about love.  I was the kid that was involved in everything – Sunday school, youth group, youth…

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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.

ValerieTarico.com

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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Blogger’s GPS: Pets With Whom We Live. Or: Do other animals behave like us? Or: Are we (just) like other animals?

I chose to reblog this article because the blogger, my friend Charles Rogers, tells us about pets who act in a many different human-like ways.

Just some examples:

We are introduced to Oliver the Dog, who is a “social eater” who hates to eat alone and therefore always invites his stuffed animal friends (toys) to join him at the dinner “table”.

We get to know Koko, a western lowland gorilla, how has been taught ASL, the American Sign Language, and now has learnt, by her own, by using grammar, syntax and word construction, to combina different signs to form new meanings ans expressions..

We ca read about the extraordinary wolf Twenty-One, kind of the Einstein of wolves, seemingly had a ToM, Theory of MInd, thereby being able to understand how his actions and behavior would be perceived by other wolves.

I myself would like to add to this list of human-like animals also a bird, Alex the Parrot. Read about him here: http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/a_little_bird_told_me/ .

What could be better for an animal behavior researcher to study than a bird talking tha same language as the scientists themselves do?

All this makes it necessary to pose this relevant question: Are there any

Are there any traits or characteristics left to be regarded as unique and special for humans?

In this article, http://www.livescience.com/15689-evolution-human-special-species.html , ten human characteristics are proposed to be typical of moderns humans. Bur is it so? It’s up to you to decide.

The ten traits are: Speech, Upright posture, Nakedness, Using hand to make tools, Using fire, Blushing, Extraordinary brain power, Clothing, Long childhood, and Having a long life after the children have grown up and moved away from home.

There are many reasons to doubt those ten listed items. And even more reasons to doubt if we humans really are created in the image of an Almighty Creator God “Person”.

BTW, I hope you remember the news that all of us, at least outside today’s Africa, have a lot of Neanderthal genes in our genome. Why did God create Adam with those genes taken from the Neanderthals? It bewilders me a lot and I feel frustrated by not being able to understand why God used kind of second-hand genes to create a completely new being “in imaginem Sui”.

Finally a bonus: Read about Mike the Rooster a.k.a. The headless chicken: http://miketheheadlesschicken.org/history .
If Mike hade lived today, I think he could have been a celebrated GOP member, a primus inter pares (the first among equals).

Charles Clanton Rogers

IMG_0503

Oliver has three guests for dinner – see story below. [1]

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My Swedish correspondent, bbnewsab,  has encouraged me to relate some anecdotes about some of our furry family members.

To you who have not lived in the home of cats or dogs, you must first accept the concept of anthropocentricity.  “Beyond Words, (Safina) will have a profound impact on many readers, for it elevates our relationships with animals to a higher plane. When your dog looks at you adoringly, even though he or she cannot say it, you can be assured that love is being expressed as you can when hearing any human declaration of eternal devotion. Most of us already knew that, but have withheld ourselves from a full surrender to its implications.”[2]

With gene mapping from genome studies of humans, dogs, and chimpanzees, all of our genetics are remarkably similar;

Our differences are quantitative; not qualitative!

When Zhai and colleagues…

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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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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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