10/17/15 New Treatment for Mental Defectives

I’ve read more than one article focused on a new process whereby one’s brain is bombarded with magnetic waves, which are touted as a “treatment” for one’s belief in god, as if to say that faith is a mental anomaly in need of treatment. This simply goes beyond what is reasonable, since many reasonable people, over the millenia of human civilization, have accepted faith as a reasonable part of human existence.

The articles all point to the paper listed below.

See: http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/09/03/scan.nsv107.abstract

While this paper claims that the magnetic zappings reduced belief in god by a third, it also claims that acceptance of immigration was increased by over a quarter. This writer fails to understand why the two subjects were chosen as the focus of the study, as if they were related in some way. Chilling is the underlying thought that some think the ability to magnetically reprogram the brain to correct aberrant thoughts is a useful thing. If it is useful, I can think of many other thoughts far more aberrant than a belief in god.

What would Winston Smith say? How might Madame Mao have used this technology during China’s cultural revolution? Will we one day have forced group zappings, or clandestine group zappings, so that we can be conformed to the shape others would choose for us?

I think these reports strain credibility. They seem to come right out of The Onion, yet there is no indication of satire. Unfortunately, we are witnessing the increasing and disturbing inclination to label those with whom we disagree as mental aberrants. The world has always been filled with people who honestly view it from remarkably different perspectives. This is normal and natural. The aberration would be to have us programmed to all think the same. If the paper has been submitted in scientific honesty, then truth is stranger than fiction.

Who then would choose what standards to which we should be corrected?

Using technology to treat medically diagnosed mental illness is not a new thing. Electro-Shock Therapy (EST) has been around for a long time. It’s use was and still is controversial, lauded by some professionals and condemned by others. It seems to this layman that EST is used to disrupt thinking, allowing sort of a reboot as it were. It does not, nor ever contemplated, the bombardment of specific parts of the brain to basically insert new or disrupt existing religious or political dogma.

Belief in god is not a mental illness that needs treating, though I know some who think otherwise. I have met some of them. My faith is perplexing to them, and they would cure me of it if they could, as if they have some sensation that something in my life is lacking because of it. If they think that, then they likely have more faith than they are willing to admit.

All the Carl Sagans, the Stephen Hawkings, and the Neil DeGrasse Tysons the world over, as brilliant as they are and assembled in one spot, could not persuade me to abandon my faith, though they might agree that I am a candidate for reprogramming. It’s not that I think the above named scientists think I should be reprogrammed (or n the case of Sagan, thought), but their frequent condescension towards religion, and much worse, personal faith, are a bit disheartening. It’s as if the modern times we live in have proven to us once and for all the folly of faith, as opposed to more ancient times, which were not modern, and were understandably excusable given Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal’s misfortune to have been born in less enlightened times.

There is so much we don’t know. And so much science cannot address, nor should it attempt to. I am all for science. I am all in for science. Scientists, though, are not above the pressures of money, ratings, and personal power, and all the distracting and corrupting things that go with it.

The real misplaced faith would be that, somehow, the human being as scientist is immune from the failings that we everyday mortals face.

I can’t say for certain which is worse: theology hijacking science, or science hijacking theology. It is no matter…they are functionally the same thing.

And dangerous, too

©2015 Mississippi Chris Sharp

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