Eureka! I may have found it at long last! I’ve been searching madly for the reason why fundamentalist/evangelical Christians appear to be so gullible when it comes to politics. Thanks to researchers in Denmark, I think I have discovered the reason.
I have hypothesized that there is something about the brains of that group of Christians that makes them easy ‘targets’ for political propaganda. It seems odd to me that so many of them adhere to the ideology of the Republican Party when, in fact, that party often acts and votes in ways that are in direct contradiction to what Jesus taught.
“When we fall under the spell of a charismatic figure,” says Uffe Schjødt of Aarhus University in Denmark and his colleagues, “areas of the brain responsible for scepticism and vigilance become less active.” That’s the finding of a study which looked at people’s response to prayers spoken by someone purportedly possessing divine healing powers.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Schjødt and his colleagues scanned the brains of 20 Pentecostalists and 20 non-believers while playing them recorded prayers. The volunteers were told that six of the prayers were read by a non-Christian, six by an ordinary Christian and six by a healer. In fact, all were read by ordinary Christians.
Only in the devout volunteers did the brain activity monitored by the researchers change in response to the prayers. Parts of the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, which play key roles in vigilance and scepticism when judging the truth and importance of what people say, were deactivated when the subjects listened to a supposed healer. Activity diminished to a lesser extent when the speaker was supposedly a normal Christian.
Schjødt says that this explains why certain individuals can gain influence over others, and concludes that their ability to do so depends heavily on preconceived notions of their authority and trustworthiness.
‘Authority.’ I’ve been saying this for many, many months and finally there is some proof of my conjecture. That group of Christians kowtow to authority and will believe their ministers as well as good propagandists- those of talk-radio, for example.
“Areas of the brain responsible for scepticism and vigilance become less active,” says the report. Indeed so. Brainwashed might be an appropriate term here. I wonder if, in fact, this new theory might be extended to those non-evangelicals on the far-right side of the political spectrum- the ones who believe so deeply in those conspiracy theories. Is the brain of people on the right-side of the center of the political spectrum similar to that described above?