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Andrew Aghapour wrote an article that was posted in Religion Dispatches questioning the findings of studies that concluded that analytical thinking negatively affects religious belief. In the article, Does Analytic Thinking Erodes Religious Belief? Aghapour argues that there are flaws in the studies and that the biggest culprit was the most likely the population used for the studies. It’s a good reminder that we need to be using our analytic brains when we encounter claims like these.

From the article:

Like the zombies that populate our screens, Americans have an immense appetite for brains. Most of the above stories come from just the past month, and they are only a small sample of neuroscience’s prominent circulation in the news cycle. Neuroscience can tell us who we are, how we can improve ourselves, and why other people act in the strange ways that they do. In an increasingly complex world, brains seem to somehow point back to the one thing that all humans have in common.

Perhaps because of the high demand for news about the brain, media coverage of neuroscience is notoriously sketchy. In a recent article in the journal Neuron, the authors lament the ways that popular neuroscience is used to artificially “underline differences between categories of people in ways that [are] symbolically layered and socially loaded.” In other words, research about the brain is often stretched and extended to support existing stereotypes about race, sex, class, and religion. Neuroscience is new enough, and our desire for brain facts is strong enough, that dubious claims about brain types circulate widely.

Image by Patrick Hoesly. Sourced via Flickr.