Monday, October 01, 2007

Not All in the Mind...

MercatorNet posted an interesting article this weekend on the reality of spirituality versus the 'impulses of the brain' hypothesis. The article is an interview with Canadian researcher Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary, entitled, Challenging the prejudice of materialism.

Below are a few snippets; for the entire interview, click here.

...if you think ideas are circuitry, which ideas would you be prepared to die for? Materialism cannot ground a doctrine of human freedom that supports human dignity. At best it can say that people should be free to follow their inner drives, rather than restrained by social forces. Very well, but what follows? People who are willing to risk their lives to help Jews escape the Nazis are unlikely to risk their lives to defend the local Triple X Adult Video store. In a materialist setting, freedom starts to slip away because it is not worth serious risks. People are, by definition, not free to do or be anything significant. That was the message of Aldous Huxley’s prescient Brave New World.

Regarding the liberal/conservative brains, I gather from Sharon Begley’s blog that the test was done in Greenwich Village, a very liberal place. A conservative who lived there and wished to remain conservative would need to ignore many, many signals from the environment. I would be interested to know what would happen if they did the same test among people who had started and run successful small businesses in very conservative Utah. Success in small business requires one to pick up signals and adapt rapidly. The biggest challenge of social psychology research in general is the need to be quite clear about what you are measuring. And, as Begley notes, the brain is very plastic anyway.

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