Part of the brain responsible for skepticism shuts off during sermons
If you ever wondered why some of your friends or family members seem to lack a certain degree of skepticism concerning their own beliefs, you might be interested in a study conducted by the Aarhus University of Denmark. Using magnetic resonance imaging, they studied 20 Pentecostals and found when they listened to prayers recited by someone they were told was a Christian, the part of the brain normally associated with skepticism and vigilance (yes, there are parts of the brain responsible for this) shuts down.
The study found the most important factor wasn’t what the prayer was about, but rather the perceived authority of the person reading the sermons. In other words, they’ve identified the mechanism that allows charismatic religious leaders to gain influence over other people, and all that’s required is for a part of their followers brain to shut down.
This is exactly WHY I’m so fearful of religion; perfectly logical and rational people can be convinced of any absurdity once they surrender their skepticism to some silver tongued preacher. It’s scary when you think about how easy it is for some people to just shut off a part of their brain with such ease. Could there also be other parts of the brain that are affected as well? This could go a long way to explain why generally peaceful individuals can be convinced to kill in the name of their religious beliefs. The more we understand about religious belief, the more it scares the shit out of me.