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LogiCon 2012 with AronRa

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Published on Jul 20, 2012

Yes, I know the sound sucks. It's not my fault.

This was my presentation for LogiCon, hosted at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, sponsored by the Northwest Arkansas Humanist Association and the Secular Student Alliance.
http://logicon.org/

Probably the most interesting topic covered in this particular talk --and which I haven't mentioned anywhere else- are the correlations of religiosity with measurable atrophy in specific areas of the brain. One of my co-hosts on the Magic sandwich Show is a legitimate scientist with a Ph.D. in biology, although he goes by the handle of c0nc0rdance. He sends me interesting articles from the peer-reviewed literature, including some that show amusing correlations between religiosity and brain function.

This article for example shows where scientists have identified a biochemical susceptibility to religious influence specifically in the promotion of pro-social behavior. Other people were found to be invulnerable to any religious influence to do good. Other subjects were shown to have the very same biochemical influence toward pro-social behavior according to environmental stimuli other than or apart from religion. I would interpret this as relating to how some of us feel good about being part of nature, rather than wanting to be apart from it.




http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22...

This study says that Dutch Calvinists and atheists, brought up in the same country and culture and controlled for race, intelligence, sex, and age, differ with respect to the way they attend to and process the global and local features of complex visual stimuli: Calvinists didn't do as well as atheists, which implies that religious biases can impede cognition and recognition, attention and perception.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic...

This study examined prospective relationships between religious factors and hippocampal volume change using high-resolution MRI data of a sample of 268 older adults. Religious factors assessed included life-changing religious experiences, spiritual practices, and religious group membership. Significant atrophy in the hippocampus was observed in participants reporting a life-changing religious experience. The same goes for Protestants claiming to have been 'born again' as opposed to Protestants not identifying as born-again. Hippocampal volume has been linked to clinical outcomes, such as depression, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease. The authors of this study it indicates that hippocampal atrophy in elderly people may be uniquely influenced by certain types of religious factors.
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3...

If I understand this study correctly, experiencing an intimate relationship with God and engaging in religious behavior was associated with increased volume of Reptilian middle temporal cortex. Experiencing fear of God was associated with decreased volume of Limbic precuneus and Limbic orbitofrontal cortex, and a cluster of traits related with pragmatism and doubting God's existence was associated with increased volume of the Reptilian precuneus.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic...

Sam Harris also found relevant links between the brain's dopamine production and religious experience, belief and behavior. This was suggested by several lines of evidence, including the fact that a variety of clinical conditions related to dopaminergic dysfunction—mania, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, and temporal-lobe epilepsy—are regularly associated with hyperreligiosity.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic...

C0nc0rdance found it amusing that the same regions of the brain correlated to religiosity are also correlated to schizophrenia. He also showed me this study, which promotes LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, "DMT"and "ecstasy" as "especially potent drivers of religious/spiritual experience".
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic...

Don't get religion; it'll shrink your brain.

Tee shirt
http://www.zazzle.com/all_the_wronges...

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