Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Study finds that belief is easier on the brain, and therefore favored by many in the population, than disbelief which requires the brain to work harder.

Courtesy of The Daily Beast:

While in an fMRI scanner, participants were asked whether or not they believed in a number of statements. Sentences ranged from the very simple and fact-based (California is larger than Rhode Island), to the abstract and highly subjective (God probably does not exist). The data revealed activation of distinct but sometimes overlapping brain areas during belief versus disbelief conditions. 

Additionally, the scans clearly showed something that was more straightforward. Brain activation, overall, was much greater and persisted longer during states of disbelief. This is important because neuroscience has long shown that greater brain activity requires more mental resources, of which there is a limited supply. A cognitive process that demands little mental resources, such as believing, is less work for the brain and therefore favored. This concept was summed up nicely in a 2015 NewScientist cover story on the science of beliefs, which stated, “Harris’ results were widely interpreted as further confirmation that the default state of the human brain is to accept. Belief comes easily; doubt takes effort.”

Well that makes sense.

I favor cognitive thinking and skepticism because I have an active intellect, while those who simply accept things on faith are intellectually lazy.

Makes pretty good sense actually.


  1. Anonymous3:10 AM

    If you're told what to think you don't have to waste your time and precious bodily fluids figuring out things for yourself.

  2. Anonymous3:59 AM

    It's pretty clear why god is called "lord" or "father." You don't question your lord or your father.

    trust in god
    god works in mysterious ways

  3. A Superfan In Atlanta4:32 AM

    I wouldn't necessarily charge religious believers as being intellectually lazy. However, I have come to realize that religion compels individuals to self-impose unrealistic rules to live and abide by. It even comes with the ultimate scapegoat for those special times when they fail to meet their self-imposed standards.

    Technically religion allows placement for blame on "supernatural human-like" ideas (gods, angels, devil) that replaces personal responsibility, provides excuses for personal shortcomings, and serves as a blanket explanation for things people personally do not understand or cannot explain. At the end of the day, is a personal experience, thought process, and CHOICE that SHOULD NOT be forced onto others as a condition of acceptance. It should not be used as a weapon to withhold that same personal CHOICE from another individual.

    Religion used to be moments of personal reflection that helped people find comfort, strength and freedom from what ailed them. It's where you learned to peacefully ACCEPT the differences of those who believe differently than you without judgement, fear and spite. Today's public religious standardbearer . . . not so much!

    Stepping out of my sanctimonious pulpit (The kids in our church used to call it the "pull you in" pit).

    1. Anonymous5:30 AM

      Believers of God are NOT intellectually lazy (of course some are). But also, some atheists are intellectually lazy.
      Many intellectuals are believers of God, and serve the Lord.
      Whoever would paint a whole group of people with one broad brush stroke is ignorant.

    2. Anonymous6:25 AM

      "serve the Lord"
      I'm sorry, but intellectuals don't "serve the Lord." They may believe in a higher power and that power might even look like the so-called God of Abraham, but using phrases like "serve the lord" undermines any intellectualism.

  4. Wow! That explains a lot. Now I understand why the more religious states (MS, AL, LA) are behind or dead last in almost everything. There is no incentive to be better, God will take care of it so there isn't any need to put forth the effort.

    1. Life without goals reduces itself to waiting.

      Somewhere in the first chapter of Ken Burns' "The Civil War," one of scholarly minds of the 19th century (given voice by a celebrity narrator) notes that once below the Mason-Dixon line, scientific curiosity, and all robust investigation and ambition to improve and modernize life flatlined. That was because its idle white 'haves' had long discarded human drive while they could rely on black Americans, kept as property, to keep the profits coming. They haven't evolved much since, while romanticizing their "heritage."

  5. Anonymous5:11 AM

    Ah, but you of all people should know that "makes good sense" is not the test of a scientific hypothesis.

  6. Every organized religion, as well as every government, has always known the most cost effective means of keeping people in line is through the inculcation of fear. Profitable too. Look at the take home cut Cheney spun 9/11 into.

  7. Anonymous5:22 AM

    There are scholars, professionals, and people in all walks of life who believe in God.
    This article has nothing to do with those of us who love God, and Jesus.

    Not only do I love and believe in God, I am also a college educated professional, and a die-hard Liberal Democrat.

    1. Anonymous5:48 AM

      Plus STUPID..

    2. If it were proven there is no creator, how would your life change? Would you continue to value life and living, or just give up?

    3. Anonymous7:20 AM

      5:48, thanks for trying to ruin this thread.

    4. Anonymous9:21 AM

      5:48 is a fine example of the intellectual rigor and absence of laziness that goes along with non-belief.

    5. Leland1:00 PM

      Speak for yourself!

      @ 9:21:

      Insults are demeaning more of the person stating them than those supposedly on the receiving end. There is absolutely no reason to be insulting to all of us merely because one fool (probably a troll) makes an idiotic comment that is patently stupid in and of itself. There are intellectuals on both sides of the argument and there are stupid ones as well.

      I agree with 7:20. We were beginning to have a nice broad based discussion that might have actually been fun. 5:48 did squelch the tone.

      But your acerbic reaction was just as bad.

  8. Anonymous7:17 AM

    That is so true. Since becoming an atheist and abandoning the lord's prayer, I have struggled to write a prayer or saying or some kind of communication I can use with the Universe, without asking for anything and with gratitude being my main purpose. It's hard not to revert to the lord's prayer and to keep in mind that the universe is impersonal. It works by laws and principles and equations. But its language is gratitude.

    1. Anonymous8:11 AM

      I guess I just don't get it.

      Why be thankful to the universe? Be grateful for a loving family and good friends and what you do for yourself and for others. Be grateful for luck.

      If you need a substitute for a "prayer," just say: "Wow, it's a great day!" Or "It's not such a great day, but look at how many great things there are in my life and in the world."

    2. Anonymous8:57 AM

      8:11, I am thankful for everyday things but that doesn't fulfill me spiritually.

  9. My current email .sig is:
    Liberals understand things; Conservatives believe things.

  10. Anonymous9:44 AM

    Its not that hard to give up religion. It is hardly groundbreaking to do so, esp in the western world. And it doesn't make anyone a super genius, or a hero, or more intellectual. Not by a long shot.

    Frankly, I was lazy about learning anything 'Catholic' in Catholic grade school, it could even be argued I gave up on religion, because I was lazy.

    Your theories are over simplified and hold no water.

    1. Anonymous11:27 AM

      There's a difference between not wanting to learn things and giving up on religion and really, truly no longer believing in god.

      Maybe you gave up believing in god and eternal damnation out of laziness, but I know a lot of people who stopped going to church and became ex-whatever organized religion, but when it comes down to it, they can't give up the belief in a higher power.

    2. Anonymous12:20 PM

      And if they can or cannot 11:26? Do you believe in the new mythology that Gryph is pushing? Essentally smart and intellectual persons can only be atheists (Gryph pats self on back and gives self award), and anyone that believes in religion (esp christianity) is a moron (poor unintellectual fools)?

    3. Anonymous2:21 PM

      I guess you didn't like my response or maybe you agree with me.

      Religion is childish, but I understand why people cling to it. The world can be a scary place and it's nice to believe there's a daddy figure up there looking out for you. Say your prayers and everything is going to be all right. And even if it's not all right, if you're poor or sick, there's a better place for you after you die. It's brave to completely give up that security blanket.

      There are dumb people who are atheists and there are smart people who are religious.

      But If you believe that the world is only 6000 years old or that Noah literally built an ark that held two of every animal; if you believe that Josh Duggar is cured because he prayed or if you vote for the diaper-wearing family-values senator because he said god forgives him; then I'd say you're an unintellectual fool.

      [Gryphen's thoughts on religion are neither new nor mythology, but it certainly makes a nice buzz phrase, doesn't it?]

  11. Anonymous4:48 PM

    Nuthin' new: Charles Sanders Peirce: The Fixaion of Belief. http://www.peirce.org/writings/p107.html

  12. So, basically the stupid are also lazy?

    Well, duh.

    Just look at the low information voter. They believe what they believe and have no inclination to learn any truths or facts that might contradict what they already "know".

    Is it any wonder the rabidly religious are also generally right wing conservatives?


Don't feed the trolls!
It just goes directly to their thighs.