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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von Münchhausen

Speaking in Tongues

The Times ran an interesting article today about a study being done on brain activity during glossolalia or "speaking in tongues":

The passionate, sometimes rhythmic, language-like patter that pours forth from religious people who “speak in tongues” reflects a state of mental possession, many of them say. Now they have some neuroscience to back them up.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes — the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do — were relatively quiet, as were the language centers. The regions involved in maintaining self-consciousness were active. The women were not in blind trances, and it was unclear which region was driving the behavior.

"A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues," The New York Times
While the Times hesitates to draw Earth-shattering conclusions from this, I think it's important to draw attention to the fact that neuroscience is taking phenomena such as this seriously enough to devote time and money to it. I've always been a skeptic with regards to such phenomena as this, but like any link to the unconscious, I think that it can be revealing as a window into human nature, even if it's babble and not the Word of God.


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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.