Talk:Atheism and the brain

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Meditation in the Christian tradition

This article mentions Buddhism and meditation. It could also mention that meditation has been practiced in the Christian tradition as by Ignatius of Loyola's Jesuits. Carltonio (talk) 11:09, 8 March 2019 (EST)

Addition to the information presented in the article.

Since the portion of the page under the heading "Study involving magnetism, brain function and the posterior medial frontal cortex" has broken links, here is a link to the full text of the article in question.

The study itself consisted of analyzing the religiosity and ethnocentric bias in two groups of people, one of which was exposed to a small amount of magnetic energy to the pMFC (sham group) and one group exposed to enough magnetic energy to cause a measurable effect (TMS group). After this, a test was used to determine if the subjects' pMFC areas were sufficiently suppressed. They were then asked to write about their own mortality, read an essay that was pro immigrant, an essay that was anti immigrant, and take a series of surveys on their perceptions of the writers of the essay, their concept of God, and their concept of the devil.

Reading the full article, one can see the study itself is worthless. Not only is the sample size vanishingly small, (19 in the sham group and 19 in the TMS group), they were not prescreened for prior religious convictions or biases. The subjects were only screened to rule out prior mental illness and to ask about where they saw themselves on the political spectrum. The researchers set out to make sure most people in the study viewed themselves as "moderate" and was ethnically diverse. They were taken from a pool of undergraduate student volunteers.

The subjects' religiosity was only measured after the participants were exposed to the experimental conditions, so there is no way of knowing what they believed before being exposed and how that might have changed. Any differences between the two groups could easily be explained by them simply being different individuals with different pre-conceived notions. They did not test to see whether anyone's views changed as the result of the study, but simply compared the views of the groups afterwards based on their answers to a survey. It's akin to comparing an atheist who works at a grocery store to a theist who works at a department store and saying that working at a department store causes one to believe in God.

The study also seems to put for the strange assumption that simply talking about death makes someone instantly believe in the Christian God. This part had me scratching my head the most, as that is not how this works. Just telling someone "you're going to die someday" does not a conversion make. This was a vast oversimplification on the part of the researchers.

Overall, it's an interesting little study, in as much as it shows the assumptions some people can make when new research comes out about religion in the brain. There's a lot of sensationalism, a huge title promising "We did it, we found the basis of religion in the brain!", and, ultimately, a lot of nothing once you read the actual text.

The odds of a significant portion of the participants of the study changing their religious/irreligious worldviews over a short time is small and the odds are against it. You engaged in a lot of wordiness to say essentially nothing.
In addition, including the control group, the study involved 38 participants.
Feel free to engage in last wordism if you feel the compulsion to do so.Conservative (talk) 14:30, 30 June 2019 (EDT)

Those were the points I was trying to make. I did go overboard on the word count. Sorry, I'll do better next time.