Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Critical thinking suppressed in brains of people who believe in the supernatural

The opposition between religious beliefs and scientific evidence can be explained by difference in brain structures and cognitive activity. Scientists have found critical thinking is suppressed in the brains of people who believe in the supernatural.

Published in PLOS One, their study examines how the parts of the brain responsible for empathy and analytical reasoning are linked to faith and spiritual thinking. It suggests religious beliefs and scientific thinking clash because different brain areas are involved in both cognitive processes. People who believe in the supernatural appear to suppress areas associated with critical thinking.

"From what we understand about the brain, the leap of faith to belief in the supernatural amounts to pushing aside the critical/analytical way of thinking...", says lead author Tony Jack, a professor of philosophy at Case Western Reserve.
In previous research, Jack and colleagues had identified, thanks to fMRI scans, two networks of neurones that competed with each other to let individuals see the the world either in religious or in scientific terms. They say the brain has an analytical network of neurons which triggered critical thinking and a social network which enabledempathy towards other and spiritual thinking.
Participants who went through the scans were presented with a physical or ethical problem. To solve it, the brain appeared to boost activity in one of the two networks, while suppressing the other.
For the latest study, the scientists conducted a series of eight experiments, involving between 159 and 527 adults. Their purpose was to compare belief in God with measures of analytic thinking and moral concern.
Scientists say that when an individual is conflicted between a scientific or religious view of the world, his brain structures will determine how he will address this opposition between beliefs and science.

The opposition between religious beliefs and scientific evidence can be explained by a tension different brain structures. (Istock)

Source: www.ibtimes.co.uk

1 comment:

  1. Makes sense to me. And I've often thought the tendency to abandon reason in favor of faith is an ancient and successful survival strategy.