Here’s the breathless headline: “Scientists claim they can change your belief on immigrants and God — with MAGNETS.”
Wait. Attitudes toward God and immigrants? Are these a natural pair? The newspaper thought so. They tell of an experiment which “claims to be able to make Christians no longer believe in God and make Britons open their arms to migrants.” How’s it done? “Using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation” researchers can “safely shut down certain groups of neurones” in the brain.
It seems to have worked. Volunteers were coaxed into having their brains zapped by giant magnets. And, lo! “Belief in God was reduced almost by a third, while participants became 28.5 per cent less bothered by immigration numbers.”
The news report was based on the paper “Neuromodulation of group prejudice and religious belief” by Colin Holbrook and four others in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. This paper is one in a long line of studies that purport to explain the workings of the human mind based on responses to simple questionnaires.