Magnets To Turn People To Atheists

Man I’m on a roll here. Found an interesting article on another site - Magnets To Turn People To Atheists

Like to get your thoughts on this one. Seems way out there to me!

Interesting. Science is really learning a lot about how the brain handles belief.

Did you read the sidebars:

They often form a central part of most biblical stories, but it appears floods, famines and plagues may have also helped to start belief in some gods in the first place.

Researchers at North Carolina State University found that belief in all-powerful and moralising gods tended to appear at times of hardship in human history.

They claim that believing in such a supreme deity helps to ensure people within a society live by certain moral rules that are necessary when living in harsh environments or in times of hardship.

The researchers studied the origins of 583 religious societies around the world.

They compared these to climate, rainfall and plant growth data for each area to build up a historical picture of the conditions each society was living in.

The findings may help to shed light on how religions such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam first emerged and why stories of hardship play such a central role.

A psychologist at Ohio State University recently unveiled a theory about the psychology underlying belief in God, claiming it is an attempt to satisfy 16 basic human desires.

These include curiosity, acceptance, family, honour, idealism, independence, order, physical activity, power, romance, saving, social contact, status, tranquility, eating and vengeance.

Professor Steven Reiss insists it’s impossible to boil religion down to a single motivation and that to be successful a religion needs to appeal to the various of human nature.

He argues previous attempts to explain religion in terms of psychology have been too narrow by focusing on its ability to provide a moral framework or a way of coping with death.

How about psychopathology? How about neuropsychology? How about evolutionary psychology? Social psychology? Developmental psychology? Child psychology? All pseudoscience? How about psychological warfare on social media?

What do you think about Economics? A science?

I generally agree with Eddie, although I have met a few believing psychologists, including some pretty well known scholars. But the paper referred to by James is in fact a good example of pseudocience. Its amazing to me that atheist, science minded folks dont see the problems with it. Apparently the study measured religion belief and anti immigration views. Did they also examine concern with global warming? (which if their theory is right should also decrease) How about feeling about gun violence? And so on. I am not a fan of ID, but this stuff is worse.

As for evolutionary psychology, has anyone ever actually produced any evidence for any of its claims? I dont mean “It makes sense” that isnt evidence. I would love to see a EP paper that actually contains evidence.

I’ve worked in MRi, and know something of how magnets interact with physiology. Whatever the statistical analysis these “scientists” might purport to show, their science is medieval. Greater magnetic field strengths and gradients are achieved in clinical MRI than could possibly be achieved by what might have been used in these “experiments”, and there has been no history or indication of deconversion. There is a mechanism for time-varying magnetic fields to effect charge motion, but it is slight, even at the very high field strengths and gradients achieved in the most advanced MRI set-ups.

To go to the physics (and I’ll have to rely on memory–won’t look up the equations):wink:)
Biot-Savart Law F= q B x V (q is charge, B magnetic field, V velocity–and I think the order is correct;
Second Maxwell Equation: curl E = -(?) partial derivative of B with respect ot T ; an induced voltage and current in a circuit enclosing the time-changing magnetic field
Fourth Maxwell Equation: curl B (magnetic field gradient) gives induced current and time changing electric field.
Some 25 or 30 years ago I calculated the numbers for these assuming cellular ionic strengths and values for MRI instruments. I don’t have the numbers now, but the effects were negligible. And more to the point: better minds than I at GE and Siemens have done similar calculations and I doubt that they would offer instrumentation that would be an open door to law suits. Consequently the hand-held (?) magnetic guns or whatever used by those “scientists” would be most unlikely to achieve field strengths or gradients greater than in commercial MRI.
Matt Briggs has offered a devastating commentary on the misuse of statistics by these people.
See :


Thanks for posting that link to the Matt Briggs article. When I first saw this magnet nonsense, my reaction was “Oh brother, this is too stupid to worry about”, but now I am much more disturbed. The anti theistic movement has no problem taking junk like this and making it into “Science has shown…” as they tend to do with lots of pseudo neuroscience, anthropology, even some cosmology. I think that actual scientists (like us) have a real obligation to debunk the anti thiesm pseudo science, as much or more than the YEC stuff. Thanks for your comment about MRI. There is so much wrong with that paper, it makes me wonder about the journal.

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