Do People Use Their Brains Differently?

Last week I came across a paper upon atheism, that I thought was not particularly well written; nevertheless it stimulated my interest. I speculate that it might be of interest to you, for reasons I briefly outline below.

The article was titled “Are the brains of atheists different to those of religious people?” It was published on January 18th 2021 in The Conversation and was written by Miguel Fantas.

The examination was based upon the supposition that atheists think in different ways to other people who have beliefs, and consequently there may be something different about how atheists brains work. This has been addressed in three ways.

The first was based on observations that religious feelings were enhanced when people’s frontal lobes were subjected to magnetic fields. When a renowned atheist, Richard Dawkins, was deliberately tested there was no effect. Unfortunately this experiment was not extended to involve other atheists, nor is it exactly clear that Dawkins’ lack of response can be interpreted as it was.

Later studies tested the view that nonbelievers are more likely to process sensory inspiration in a more deliberate manner that involves higher cortical areas. Religious believers, it is said, are more likely to interpret information in an emotive or intuitive manner that involves more ancient brain areas. Individuals were examined after contemplating Rodin’s statue of The Thinker or without doing this. I’ll leave those interested to investigate if the methodology employed was appropriate but I wasn’t impressed, nor were others. Cultural bias and insufficient numbers of people examined were heavily criticised and the propositions were re-examined. Only studies in Australia, USA and Singapore supported the proposition that atheists’ brains differed. It is also proposed that atheists can exhibit cognitive inhibition – an ability to refrain from certain thoughts and behaviours. This was assessed by measuring resistance to pain.

So why am I boring you with these studies? Well, from the outset it struck me that one could substitute “climate change sceptic” for “atheist “. I think we may indeed think differently from those that believe humans are significantly changing the global climate. Why is it that we precious few – we band of climate change sceptical brothers – have our beliefs despite almost overwhelming pressure for us to conform to the majority view? I would appreciate learning your views on this proposition. I find it difficult to believe that all those studying climate change have inferior reasoning skills, yet this could be a possibility. So, what do you think?

via Climate Scepticism

April 18, 2023 at 01:46AM

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