Irrational beliefs,a neurological disorder?

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Joined  29-04-2005
20 May 2005 14:39


CreateFate mentions hypnotism as somehow equivalent to religious fanaticism in a neurological sense. I can see that there’s somewhere to take this idea. The people of faith appear to act as though they are hypnotized, perhaps they are? Are they?

Bob, this is what I understand from what I’ve read and heard: Hypnotism, as it is commonly understood, is a myth. But such amazing focus and relaxation is attainable by people who practice “hypnosis” that no other word quite describes the results.

Any professional shrinks out there for further comment?

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Joined  21-12-2004
21 May 2005 01:08

The notion that religion ia neurological disorder seems very far fetched.  When a person matures in his thinking and abandons the childhood indoctrination into religion, should this be considered a cure from a neurological disorder? Could such a change be detected with an MRI or other medical test? What about the person who is raised atheist and then undergoes a conversion to religion? Should this be thought of as the contraction of a neurological disorder detectable by medical tests? The comedian presents a very entertaining view but it would seem more appropriate to leave it in the world of comedy.

Stay Well

Total Posts:  765
Joined  21-12-2004
21 May 2005 01:56

My thought on the matter is that all ministries that are on tv should open their financial books to the public. Ministers/preachers should have modest salaries and few perks. Outside of television expenses, the ministry should have a large benevolence fund and should actively be involved in missions and other good works, i.e. soup kitchens, Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc. Travel expenses should be free from extravagant hotels and restaurants. Ministry facilities and equipment should be top rate, but vehicles should be very modest. Preachers should preach that people will be blessed if they just send money somewhere (preferrably the local soup kitchen, the Red Cross, missionaries, etc.), not just to their ministry.

And there should be no “white suit.” I do not care for the preacher who always shows up in a white suit. I don’t think Benny Hinn is going to hell, I think he is off and I think his lavish lifestyle is not in keeping with a man of the cloth.

This is one of the few things you have ever posted that makes any sense. You are progressing nicely.
Unfortunately, your ideals, which I share, lack any element of realism. Televangelism is about power, influence and money and not about benevolence. If this were not so, then the televangelists would certainly be willing to open their books to public scrutiny.  If your criteria were imposed on the televangelists, the likes of Hinn, Meyers, Bakker Swaggert, Kennedy and Robertson would swiftly disappear, to the benefit of all in American society.

Stay Well

Total Posts:  2890
Joined  02-12-2004
21 May 2005 03:15

Allow me to clarify what I meant by irrational beliefs/neurological disorders. Neurological disorders do sometimes cause irrational beliefs
in some people without a doubt. A person with a brain tumor,organic brain damage,alzheimer’s,schizophrenia,etc…will often hold irrational beliefs ofcourse.

However, if you studied all the people with irrational beliefs EXCLUDING
those with obvious disorders,like the ones I mentioned would a common
neurological “profile/s” emerge? I know that people believe all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons,but do certain neurological profiles incline
humans to believe and behave in an irrational manner?

  Certain psychologists have used the term “shadow syndromes”
Basically, that means exhibiting one or more charecteristics
of one or more classified mental disorders,but not meeting
all the diagnostic criteria for them. It is possible that many
people with irrational beliefs could have a variety of shadow
syndromes that give them a propensity for irrational beliefs.

  Many psychologists claim that serial killers and other anti-social types
very often exhibit poor frontal lobe functioning. This could lead to difficultly
with impulse control etc…I am fairly certain not all, or probably most people with low frontal lobe activity turn out to be serial killers/exceptionally anti-social. The jury is still out on whether
or not serial killers would be serial killers without some kind
of pre-existing neurological abnormalities. I tend to believe
something must be awry in their brains even if it has not yet
been discovered,I could be very wrong however.

  Nature/nurture is responsible for our behaviors,beliefs,etc…The question is; are certain neurological profiles sometimes/often in
place that make “nurture’s job” alot easier? I strongly believe
that irrational beliefs often have a neurological componant.
In these cases,if the neurological componant,(however seemingly
mild and undetected) did not exist in the first place, the irrational
beliefs would either be non-existant, or atleast weaker.

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Joined  23-02-2005
23 May 2005 00:16

I think that this conversation is, perhaps, breaking down because of tricky wording.

Where does a mental problem stop being a “neurological disorder” and start simply being a psychological dysfunction?

Regardless of how awesome someone’s brain is, a lifetime of bad input can jack them up.  In that sense, all human beings suffer from a common set of neurological disorders, namely that we lack the ability to inerrantly go from infant to enlightened regardless of what external input we get as children.

That said, it is clear that there are a host of mental traits that different people have to different degrees, and it might be possible to medically screen for people that are more disposed to dogmatic belief systems, or for people that are naturally more skeptical.  And if it is?  Well, identifying the genes in question would be good, because people could know if they have a family history of dogmatic belief, which might, just by the knowing, help to put a damper on things.


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Joined  22-12-2004
23 May 2005 14:56

I have been watching the History Channel series on the Conquerors, and have seen the previews for “Kingdom of Heaven” and it struck me, how irrational was it for a group of men to charge another group of men barely dressed?

I mean, wouldnt a rational man refuse to charge?  Aren’t charges like this emotion driven?  What state of mind is a man in when he jumps out of a foxhole and runs into a battlefield?  What form of “faith” sustains this “bravery”?

Just wondering = )

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Joined  02-12-2004
27 May 2005 11:39

[quote author=“Anonymous”]Comedian Bill Maher has often said he believes religion (and for our purposes,we can say all irrational beliefs) has it’s origins in a neurological
disorder. ..

Rather less amusingly, atheist regimes in todays world use such jeers as an excuse to abuse psychiatry in order to torture harmless people.  Can we have less of this, hey?

All the best,

Roger Pearse