Reply to “Neuroscience for the Soul”.


Persinger has published a reply to a critical article in a British “pop” psychology magazine (The Psychologist) entitled “Neuroscience for the Soul”.  This article perpetuates a few mistaken notions about the God Helmet, as well as some of Persinger’s theories.  Dr. Persinger presents detailed technical clarifications and rebuttals to refute misconceptions about his work.

For example, Persinger does not believe that spiritual and religious experiences are epileptic events in the temporal lobes, and he also rejects the idea that religious belief is an epileptic phenomenon.

Persinger’s God Helmet results are not due to suggestion, and they did employ double-blind conditions.

, The flagship author and semi-official spokesman for the skeptical movement, Richard Dawkins had been drinking before his God Helmet Session, and that’s why he felt so few effects.

The low-intensity magnetic fields used with the God Helmet are strong enough to create striking effects.  Lots of other researchers have seen measurable effects applying faint magnetic fields to the brain.

Skeptics insist that Persinger’s work with paranormal phenomena (correlating it with geomagnetic measures) has not been replicated.  However, it simply isn’t true.  Several researchers have seen the effects of geomagnetic variables on paranormal phenomena.

In spite of claims to the contrary, there has been a replication of a God Helmet experiment, and there have also been several other replications of work by M.A. Persinger.

(News Report): A team of neurotheology researchers have replicated and confirmed the results of the iconic “God Helmet experiment.

Although  it intended to try to create a synthetic haunted environment, the “Haunted Room” experiment  was not a test of any of Persinger’s concepts about the effects of magnetism on paranormal and other unusual experiences, in spite of claims to the contrary.  The “haunted room” experiment used whole-body stimulation (to try to create an artificial “Haunted Room”), while Persinger’s experiments stimulated only the head, and sometimes just one side of it.  You can’t stimulate only the right side of the head using an entire room as the stimulator.

Most of the criticisms of Persinger’s theories and ideas resolve into “straw man” arguments.  These are arguments that give the impression of criticizing a person’s argument, while actually challenging a position that they never advanced.  It creates the illusion of having falsified an opponent’s proposition by covertly replacing it with a different proposition (i.e. “stand up a straw man”) and then to dispute the false argument (“knock down a straw man”) instead of the original proposition.  Other straw man arguments are based on substituting a critic’s interpretation of a belief for the belief itself.