I have been fiddling around in my own brain the question: how different is the mind of ‘the other’ than my own brain? The ‘other’ refers to those on the far right of the political spectrum plus those who subscribe to the ‘fundamentalist’ religions. Both of ‘these people’ confound me and leave me perplexed.
Frequent commenter Steve gave this remark earlier today:
I read a science article recently that showed with MRI studies that people with strong religious beliefs use the same parts of their brain that interpret reality. What I mean is that their religion is as real to them as the sky is blue to any other observer.
Maybe that’s it! It’s all about the ‘type’ of brain that we inherited. I ought to be thankful to my parents that mine turned out ‘normal.’ Normal in that religion is not ‘real’ to me. I am not trapped in what I frequently refer to as the World of Delusion or the World of Religious Delusion, to be more exact.
I wonder if there exists as well a World of Political Delusion? You know, those folks who dwell on that far right edge of politics- the ones who seem to believe that the ‘world’ ought to be a certain way, a certain mold.
Of course, often these two worlds merge. Wow! What a hyper-warp. Take Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachman, for example. I think she typifies the joint merger of Religious and Political Delusion. She is not alone because millions of [c]hristian fundamentalists also live lives under the delusion of far-right politics. God and politics all wrapped up in a warped bundle.
The Pew Forum sponsored a panel discussion last May on the topic How Our Brains are Wired for Belief. An abstract would read:
Some of the nation’s leading journalists gathered in Key West, Fla., in May 2008 for the Pew Forum’s biannual Faith Angle Conference on religion, politics and public life.
Recent advances in neuroscience and brain-imaging technology have offered researchers a look into the physiology of religious experiences. In observing Buddhist monks as they meditate, Franciscan nuns as they pray and Pentecostals as they speak in tongues, Dr. Andrew Newberg, a radiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has found that measurable brain activity matches up with the religious experiences described by worshippers. The social, political and religious implications of these and other findings are just beginning to permeate the broader culture, according to New York Times columnist David Brooks, who has been tracking new developments in the field.
I think that this is what Steve was suggesting because the article uses brain scans as ‘evidence’ of their hypotheses. The so-called liberal and conservative brain scans are also discussed.
The conclusion one might reach upon reading this article is that there exists in society [at least American society] differing brain types that respond much differently to religious and political ideas, beliefs and data. Thus, when one looks at Michelle Bachman, for example, or that severely homophobic fundamentalist [c]hristian, one can comfortably conclude that there are paranoid people both inside of and outside of mental wards.