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back to article Blow to the head makes people feel good about religion

Psychologists in the US report that people who have suffered a serious blow to the head and who have "a sense of connection to a higher power" tend to report feelings of much greater life satisfaction. The revelation comes in a study carried out by psychology PhD candidate Brigid Waldron-Perrine and her colleagues, supervised by …

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Maybe I misunderstanding here

But is this some sort of attempt at retrophrenology, as described by Terry Pratchett in one of his novels?

In brief, phrenology is a method of determining someone's personality through the examination of bumps in the skull. Retrophreonology is the means of altering personality traits by creating bumps on the head.

"Certainly sir. That'll be £200 for the religious further, plus an additional £10 for wear and tear on the lump hammer."

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Do Your Good Deed for the Day - Hit a Religious Nutter Upside the Head

So to be a Happy Clappy Religious Nut, the 'Clappy' needs to be applied to the head.

Hard.

I'm always happy to help ..

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Or maybe it's more Monty Python

Remember the "Being hit over the head lessons"?

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They were on to something

They also had the line of guys whacking themselves in the head with boards.

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Facepalm

Pie Jesu Domine...

... dona eis requiem.

(THUD!)

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Coffee/keyboard

Is there an award for best Terry Pratchett reference in a comment?

This should win this year's award

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Coffee/keyboard

y'know, I was just about to say...

...y'mean, that one scene in "Monty Python And The Holy Grail" wasn't just satire? You know which scene I mean -- the one with the group of monks marching through the streets chanting verses of Latin gibberish while bashing themselves upside the head with boards?

Wow, who'da thunk it?

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Angel

that's a tough one...

Tough choices on the road to happiness... on the one hand we have mindless, illogical belief structure... and on the other we have getting clocked over the head with a bar stool... I guess I'll take the latter, if it'll make me happy. Until then, back to my depressingly unsatisfied world sans brain injuries and hocus pocus.

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Makes sense

A friend of mine had part of his brain removed due to a tumour. Afterwards he became extremely religious. It all makes sense now. You need to have your brain damaged to become a God botherer. Waiting for comon sense and logic to fly out of the window and the flaming to begin.

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re: Makes sense

Richard Harris sez on 06.28.11 @13:32gmt:

"A friend of mine had part of his brain removed due to a tumour. Afterwards he became extremely religious. It all makes sense now..."

You do also realize, then, what the root words of the word "fundamentalist" are:

"Fund": to give money to

"Amentalist": the mindless

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Religion and bricks

I always said that before I became "religious" you'd have to hit me over the head with a brick... Interestingly enough, I got religion when god hit me on the head with the planet... :-)

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Angel

Useless research

Until we get a similar study for not-bumped-in-the-head-people

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Anonymous Coward

Does it work the other way too?

#grabs a baton and waits outside church#

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Trollface

Is that why when people get hit on the head they shout....

...!!!!JESUS!!!!!...

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Trollface

Unless they are more interested in less religious satisfactions...

"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu......................!"

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FAIL

@ everyone

Apparently none of you can read. The study demonstartd that religious people cope better with a blow to the head, not that they becme more religious.

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@AC

It seems you cannot read either. The study says that of those people who have had a bump to the head, those who are religious feel happier about their life than those who are not religious. There is no correlation between receiving a bump and becoming religious.

To put it another way, a study of people who post anonymously on El Reg, found that those who were religious were happier than those who were not. That doesn't mean posting anonymously makes you become religious...

Posted anonymously just in case doing so does in fact give you super powers, and also because It may be me who has interpreted it wrongly, leading to a double fail...

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FAIL

@ Anonymous Coward

Please; don't let facts get in the way of easy and cheap jokes :)

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Pint

But, People That Post Religeous...

...beliefs on El Reg are more likely to get downvoted.

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Devil

more brain damage ?

so Religious people cope with brain damage better because they've already shown that they're brain damaged ?

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@ all of the above

@AC 13:50 You make a good point. It seems that religion makes people feel better about a blow to the head.

@AC 14:44 You are actually agreeing with him! (based on your first paragraph

@Bristol: You need to differentiate between ACs

@Zeke: You've started drinking early you old dog ;) Does beer make you feel better about a blow to the head?

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Coat

re: @ everyone

an Anonymous Coward sez on 06.28.11 @13:50gmt:

"Apparently none of you can read. The study demonstartd that religious people cope better with a blow to the head, not that they becme more religious."

Oh, yeah, I read all that... but there's no joke material in that, is there?

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Joke

Follow-on research

There needs to be follow-on research with a group of religious er.. people. Half the group can be left as control, and the other half should be given a serious blow to the head. Afterwards, there should be comparisons to determine the cause / effect relationship of serious blows to the head, religious activity and well-being.

To remove statistical bias, a very large group should be involved

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Religion=malfunction, then?

The obvious place to check this theory would be a survey of boxers to see how many are religious. It it's right, then boxers who've lost a lot of fights would tend to be more religious than those who generally win.

Though, this maybe explains the thriving happy-clappy contingent in the USA compared to the wane of religion here in the UK. Here, parents and teachers generally aren't allowed to whack kids, especially not aroud the ears. I gather that some of the more religious States still allow corporal punishment.

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Angel

re: religion=malfunction

Anteaus sez on 06.28.11 @14:46gmt:

"The obvious place to check this theory would be a survey of boxers to see how many are religious..."

Any of my fellow Yanks on here notice how many football players (American rules) these days are raving born-again freaks? They spend hours and days working out, practicing, studying playbooks, and when they have a big game or make a big play they jump up and down yelling about how "God did it!" I blame repeated concussive blows, despite the wearing of helmets.

Of course, to know for sure, we'd need teams of British and American scientists to conduct concurrent studies of Rugby and American Rules Football players to know for sure (religious belief vis-a-vis helmeted vs. non-helmeted).

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Happy

also shows that ...

... religion is a matter of faith and not works (hmm, think someone else said that before)

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Pint

other research into positive psychological effects of faith

Carl Jung, while as a psychological scientist having to admit coming from an open minded i.e. agnostic position himself, was aware of the effects of faith and according to this link even recommended a faith-based therapeutic approach to alcoholism:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Jung#Spirituality_as_a_cure_for_alcoholism

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Religion is a matter of faith...

...because that's all it's got to rely on.

Could not resist. Carry on....

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Re: Could not resist

I don't know about other religions, but in Christianity the fact that it *is* just a question of faith is flagged up in the old book and is pretty much the whole point of the Creed, too. You are being much less provocative than you imagine.

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Anonymous Coward

Which is why,

I have a good deal of respect for the type of Christian that just gets on with living their life in a 'Christian' way and none at all for those that think they can 'prove' their god - by what they mistakenly think of as science, by sheer force of personal attack, or by threats of violence. The latter shows a fundamental failure to understand the basis of their chosen beleif construct in the first place.

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Pint

Summary: Thinking is unpleasant.

People who don't accept what abook or a preacher say, on the sole authority of said book or preacher, have to think for themselves. And spend most of their time dealing with people who don't think. Kind of like working on a help desk. Not good for one's sense of inner peace.

Speaking of which...

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Happy

Reminds me....

Reminds me of my old man telling me off when I did something monumentally daft...."Are you really that stupid Son? I know I'll keep banging my head against a brick wall 'cos it's great I when stop! Don't be an idiot all your life eh?"

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Anonymous Coward

So there *is* some point to boxing?

So there *is* some point to boxing?

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Devil

a whole new angle on bible bashing

So bashing a bible on a religious type's head will make them happier ?

That's excellent news . Therefore I can do that to the next Jehovah's Witness who knocks on my door , and use the copy of Watchtower that they ply me with (although that may need beefing up with some extra weight) . My defence in court against the ensuing charges of GBH is that it'll make them happier. Result.

what happened to the non religious types after their TBI ? were they now more happy and clappy ?

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Holmes

correlation != causation

.. but there could be many simple interpretations too.

Such as, people who've had a life threatening head injury think that a higher power saved them from death.

This research is a piece of junk, and I don't know why I'm bothering writing about it. <click>

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No, it means you didn't understand what was being reported.

The research had nothing to do with /changes/ in level of belief. Just that a particular /existing/ level of belief affected post-head-trauma happiness. The article even suggested that this was likely more to do with the sociat-support that generally comes bundled in with religious beleif rather than the belief itself.

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It's junk anyway.

A blow to the head? Whereabouts? With what observable damage?

What happens if I fire a bullet through your computer? Doesn't it depend on what the bullet hits?

Brains are orders of magnitude more complex than computers, and our understanding of how the brain works is, at best, in its infancy. A study which looks at all brain traumas, regardless of locality or severity of damage, and treats them as a single phenomenon is so devoid of scientific significance that it approaches charlatanry.

Which is, I think, the reason that it was reported here. It's sad that irony passes so many people by.

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Black Helicopters

Not working for Moi.

Had a pretty good knock on the old cranium a while ago myself...but STILL feel religion...ALL of it...is for mental weaklings who can't run their lives without some "higher power"...and basically the root of all evil.

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Could be something in it...

I don't generally bother with psychoholics and their ilk, but I did have a few weird years after a serious motorcycle accident (head-on collision, helmet split and I was away with the fairies for a few days) when I was 18. Fortunately I saw the light in the end and started working with IT.

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Trollface

It doesn't say that being religious makes you retarded

or that being retarded makes you religious. So religious belief affects your outlook on life- really stretching the boundaries there. This is at best frivolous, at worst trolling.

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Paris Hilton

Blow to the head makes people feel good about religion

I always feel better after taking some blow. Come to think of it, I always feel better after getting blown.

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Still a candidate for an IgNobel prize

You know, research that first makes you laugh, and then makes you think.

I could well imagine that church-going people get more help from their surroundings, from those who practice what they preach, and apparently understood the bible better than certain raving fundamentalists. I remember attending the wedding of friends of ours in the US, and after the exchange of vows, the congregation was asked to rise and promise they would do all they could to make this marriage work. I thought that very touching. That is a practical side of Christianity (and many other faiths) that is very valuable. I did get some puzzled looks from some church-goers when I told them I was an atheist. I almost felt they wondered how that could happen to such an apparently nice man, and anyway, where were my horns and cloven hooves?

The researchers should check whether there aren't stronger correlations between well-being and the degree of care or conversely social isolation of those with brain trauma.

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Angel

So in summary

The more your brain function is impaired by physical trauma, the more religion makes sense.

This is not a surprise to most people.

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Happy

Religious people might be happier

But depressed people are more realistic.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depressive_realism

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Anonymous Coward

If a wack over the head is what it takes to be a better Christian, I volunteer!

Hi, Saul got hit by a lightning blot by God and Jesus Christ spoke to him. He as a zealous Jew who was killing Christians before that. He then became a believer and spread Christianity over most of Asia. Its the Holy Spirit that persuades and convicts a person to accept God and Jesus Christ, and be spiritual reborn. Please are called by the Holy Spirit not bumps on the head...Maybe its just that get your attention and thinking about God and examining your life, your bad way of life, and your mortality. Alot of people you have been in serious injury and near death do this too.

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TL;DR alert

It's odd, you know. Whenever I find myself moved to comment on one of the Reg's stories, it usually seems to be something about religion.

I think it's because I find these articles' 'forums' - and sometimes the article themselves, depending how troll-y they are to begin with - the most irritating, because some (most) of you are clearly bright people. You work, in many cases, in a complex industry. You understand stuff like code and networking and all these tricksy things that I, as a mere scribbler, couldn't hope to grasp. The intelligence and the humour generally show through pretty clearly around here.

And then the subject of religion comes up, and suddenly there's a flurry of comments dripping with predictability and sheep-like conformity, not to mention (most annoyingly) prejudice and irrationality.

As I post this, there are only forty-one comments. I've no doubt, if past performance is anything to go by, that number will go up by an order of magnitude by the time the forum is closed. There will be smart-alec references to invisible pink unicorns, spaghetti monsters, teapots and so on. Fairies at the bottom of the garden, and allusions to 'a bearded man sitting on a cloud'. There will be dismissive phrases such as 'sky-pixie' and 'imaginary friend'. There will be jeering and insults directed at the foolish (and probably evil) idiots who believe in such stupid a stupid idea as religion. I expect all this, because this seems to be what we always get when a crowd of intelligent people decide to show off their intelligence at the expense of those they deem beneath them.

And running through all of it will, as usual, be the tacit agreement that 'religion' is one single homogenous belief structure, and that every believer is essentially the same.

If this all seems over-defensive, consider some of the comments already submitted here. As some have rightly tried to point out, this article refers to research that quite explicitly suggested that religious people feel happier or more contented after a head injury.

In other words, as an AC has rightly said:

"The research had nothing to do with /changes/ in level of belief. [...] The article even suggested that this was likely more to do with the sociat-support that generally comes bundled in with religious beleif rather than the belief itself."

Yet, already, we've got presumably otherwise intelligent people offering such comments as:

"Religion=malfunction, then?" - Anteaus

"So bashing a bible on a religious type's head will make them happier ?" - Karl H

"The more your brain function is impaired by physical trauma, the more religion makes sense." - fixit_f

"Summary: Thinking is unpleasant. People who don't accept what abook or a preacher say, on the sole authority of said book or preacher, have to think for themselves." - Chris Hance

As far as I can tell from the Reg article we're all responding to, no-one has suggested anything approaching the statements made by those first three I've quoted - and the statement from Chris Hance is just a dazzling non-sequitur.

Oh, and 'BristolBachelor' offers the slightly unsettling phrase "religious er.. people". Are we really now at the point where it's the privilege of the 'rational' and the 'intellectual' to question whether the religious are entitled to be called people? Or perhaps I'm reading this wrong?

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