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Anymouse 🌹🎃4/19/2019 3:32:18 am PDT

Today in clickbait:

Scientists have established a link between religious fundamentalism and brain damage (Goes to Raw Story)

TL;DR version: A study was published at PubMed
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov (full text of study)
Testing was conducted on 119 Vietnam War veterans who suffered penetrating brain injuries to a particular part of the brain, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

This part of the brain is considered critical to religious belief and extreme political conservatism. The study compared the test subjects to a control group of 30 Vietnam War veterans with no brain damage.

They found that in addition to damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, damage to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex also causes rigidity in religious belief.

They also noted that people so injured tended to rate radical political positions as moderate.

From the study:

In general, religious beliefs tend to differ from empirical beliefs. Although people may think subjectively of religious belief as a true or false representation of how the world is, it is notable that certain religious beliefs do not generally update in response to evidence, and that conservatism is especially notable in the case of fundamentalist beliefs. Empirical beliefs are indications of how the world appears to us and are updated according to accumulated evidence. Fundamentalist religious beliefs, in comparison, do not track and predict variation in the world. Rather, they appear to track, and predict, social group-level commitments (Bulbulia & Schjoedt, 2012).

Further down in the study, they note the issue of intelligence and religiosity, previously studied by a different group in 2013. That study showed a small but measurable difference in intelligence.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov (abstract of the 2013 study)

This study used the Armed Forces Qualification Test, since those scores were available for the Vietnam veterans. They noted a significant drop in AFQT scores amongst the veterans who had brain injuries and increased fundamentalist beliefs, with no change in those who were not injured.

The study in no way suggests you have to be brain-damaged to be either a fundamentalist religious believer or a conservative. The Raw Story headline and body of the story implies that until you get way down in the bottom of the article.