Sunday, July 13, 2008

One little word.

I've been watching a video called God on the Brain* about temporal lobe epilepsy and the experience of God. A scientist has found that he can induce a sense of presence by stimulating people's temporal lobes with magnetic fields and he is surmising that temporal lobe stimulation is at the root of all supernatural experience. The video is in five parts and I recommend it.

What struck me though was the narration.
Controversially, Dr Persinger argues that most if not all spiritual and religious experience can be explained away by the effect of electromagnetic fields on the temporal lobes of the brain.
(Video part 4 of 5, 1:32 mins in, you can see a summary of the programme on the BBC website.)

I was intrigued by the use of the word "away" after "explain". It adds nothing to the facts of the case, which are that Dr Persinger has discovered a mechanism that causes religious experiences. It adds a whole dimension to the emotions involved though and implies that Dr Persing is dismissive of religious experience. Well, maybe he is. I found it interesting how one small everyday word can alter the impact of the narration so much.

*Thanks to Scott from Oregon's post on EE's blog. And thank you Robin for letting me know where I saw this.


Stacy said...

Damn. My computer is simply too old and decrepit for videos. Sigh.

fairyhedgehog said...

That's a pain, freddie. The trouble with computers is that they get out of date so quickly.

Robin S. said...

Hey FH- it was Scott from Oregon EE's blog.

I think this is fascinating.

By the way- Scott has a blog and an email address on his link. He's researching this for use with the novel/novella he's writing. His opening was on EE's a week or two ago. Very very good stuff.

Hope this helps!

fairyhedgehog said...

Thanks, Robin. I'll put a link to Scott's comment in my post. His story does look promising and I'm very interested in where he is going with it. I love his comment that "neuroscience is kicking religion's hind-quarters at the moment".

Riss said...

Cool post. I hadn't heard about this guy but you're right, the power of small, everyday language is huuuuge. Speak softly, I suppose.

And, as a random thought: I actually did get chased by a goose once. It wasn't very fun. And I hate bugs and spiders too...and have, not just the other day, done the "yucky dance" because I almost got a fly in the face after opening a door and he zoomed out. Blech.

fairyhedgehog said...

Hi Riss,

Thanks for visiting. I can imagine that getting chased by a goose was not very fun - I'm glad that for me it was all in my imagination.

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