This is something to think about. Darkness comes over the world like in the Hitler or Stalin regimes or something like Orwell’s dystopia. The Party has the ultimate means of turning believers into atheists and correcting anyone with politically incorrect views. They take you to a torture chamber where there are no racks, pinions, thumbscrews or vials of scopolamine. All there is is a bed on which the victim is strapped and a machine that looks something like a scanner in a hospital. Simple magnetism is applied in the right way and instant compliance is obtained.
For once it isn’t some kind of conspiracy theory coming from people with tin foil on their heads, obsessed about shape-shifting reptiles and the Illuminati, but respectable scientists in English universities. Try this one – Psychologists Claim To Reduce Belief In God And Distrust Of Immigrants Using Magnetism. The two big problems or diseases to cure are religion and the belief that uncontrolled immigration is orthodoxy. It sounds like something out of a Richard Dawkins book!
I’ll try to look at this thing soberly. Briefly, the use of magnetic energy can close down parts of the brain associated with our response to external stimuli. The people being experimented on were invited to think about death, religious beliefs and their feelings about immigrants. With the magnetic energy temporarily shutting down selected parts of the brain, a proportion of the subjects ceased to have any supernatural belief of adverse feelings about immigrants.
According to the scientists, people turn to ideology as a response to adversity. I suppose that ideology is defined here as an irrational belief rather than a set of ideal values. It might well be that some people react to their own mortality and the constant barrage of bad news from the media by irrational ideology. Perhaps some people are unwell and require professional help.
I wrote an article on Stages of Spiritual Life quite some time ago, in the light of which belief cannot be dismissed as irregularities of functioning in the brain, neurones misfiring or whatever. It seems obvious to me that for those scientists, the brain is all and consciousness cannot exist apart from it. That is an ideology, when you consider that other scientific opinions and discoveries indicate that consciousness is above the physical brain. Religious belief goes beyond credence in narratives and sacred writings. As someone progresses spiritually, faith and belief give way to knowledge and experience.
As for feelings in regard to immigrants, I cannot let that one go without some qualification. Through some of the things I read, I am led to believe that there are indeed many Syrian, Irakian and Afghan people who have lost their homes and possessions by the action of the jihadist barbarians in their countries, causing them to migrate to refugee camps and any country willing to give them a temporary or permanent place in safety. It is a true crisis, and those people have to be helped. Unfortunately, there are also economic migrants wanting to go to countries where they will receive social benefits paid for by those who live and work in that country. Housing is unaffordable for natives, but given out to all comers from abroad. At least that is what we can be brought to fear unless we get credible explanations from our political leaders. Finally, there are war criminals and terrorists who want to come to Europe with the idea of conquest, regardless of how unsuccessful they will be through lack of numbers or military force. We simply can’t afford to take them all, and decisions are made by our political authorities undemocratically. Are the proper distinctions being made between true refugees and criminals or delinquents riding piggy-back?
That doesn’t seem to be the result of a malfunctioning brain, but simply common sense. We have less and less trust in our political authorities, because they have have often been caught out betraying that trust. I am not afraid of foreigners per se. I am myself a foreigner living in a country where I was not born, but I earn my own living and pay my way. I speak their language and have integrated. At the same time, I am careful to keep my own cultural identity as something important for my spiritual and emotional health. What will frighten us is knowing that hordes of “refugees” in Germany and other northern European countries are raping women and shouting Allahu akbar (اَللّٰهُ أَكْبَر) as a jihadist equivalent of Heil Hitler or Seig Heil. Who are the people with irrational ideologies? There are things that don’t add up. Our reactions can therefore be understandable and not be considered as a mental problem!
Science can often be so unscientific. I say this as someone coming from a scientific and rationalist family in which we were critical about faith or any conviction not backed up by empirical evidence. Science is certain knowledge derived from reasoning, demonstration and evidence, and the results have to repeatable. Otherwise it becomes the very ideology it claims to dispel.
I have a problem with the pairing of “ideology” with “irrational”. It appears to me that the major problem with an ideological approach (whether one’s own, seen as “rational” or that of another, seen as “irrational”) is in its deification of one or another view of rationality. Ideologies appear to me as logical (“rational”) constructs built upon a data set arising from one’s perception of reality. It is when this logical construct becomes an absolute to be worked back from, with which to adjust ones observation of reality that the problems arise. Since none of us can claim to be omniscient (such a claim would indeed be irrational), it follows that we simply cannot have enough data to support our logical conclusions fully. There simply will be flaws in our conclusions – THAT we can rely upon – and there will be additional data to modify or even contradict what we have perceived and the interpretation we have made of it. Any ideology is perceived as rational by those that hold it, and so it is, by the standards of what they admit to be true. It is when the ideology becomes the judge of reality that rationality flees, as data that do not fit must be discarded or demolished. Here is where logic comes into conflict with clear thinking.
What is, is, and that is where thinking must begin (whether, as in science, from observation, or, as in theology, from revelation), and it is axiomatic that any of our conclusions are built on insufficient data – what is, is much more that what we perceive or are able to perceive, and therefore our logical conclusions are subject to revision (or even to discard) – it also being true that our logical abilities themselves are limited and will and do carry us to conclusions not in accord with reality. I am not God. My observations are neither complete nor accurate. My conclusions are no more than partially true. My thinking itself is flawed by preconceptions I do not perceive as present in me. Commitment to an ideology, any ideology, denies or attempts to deny all of these points. and he tighter the logic supporting the ideology, the more dangerous the ideology can be.