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Study Shows Born-Again Christians Have Smaller Brains
The New American ^ | 05.27.11 | Dave Bohon

Posted on 07/21/2011 7:37:56 PM PDT by Coleus

Born-again Christian who have been wondering all these years just why they are so different from the rest of the crowd may now have an answer via a new study out of Duke University Medical Center. Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Templeton Foundation found that individuals who identify themselves as “born-again” Christians tend to have smaller brains than Protestants who claim no such experience. According to USA Today, the 11-year study, “which included at least two MRI measurements on 268 adults between 1994 and 2005 … found an association between participants’ professed religious affiliation and the physical structure of their brain. Specifically, those identified as Protestant who did not have a religious conversion or born-again experience — more common among their evangelical brethren — had a bigger hippocampus.”

The research, which focused on brain shrinkage among older adults, grew out of a larger project in which participants, all 58 years of age and older, were recruited for a study to determine the effects of depression on the elderly. In the study on believers, “researchers ruled out depression or lack of social support as reasons for the smaller brain size,” reported USA Today.

The study found that those who said that they were a “born-again” Protestant or Catholic, as well as those who claimed no religious affiliation, had more brain atrophy (shrinkage) than participants who identified themselves as non-born-again Protestants.

In trying to make sense of the results of their study, researchers suggested that the stress related to embracing religious convictions not held by the majority may account in part for the smaller brain sizes of “born-again’ participants. Amy Owen, a research associate at Duke University Medical Center and the lead author of the study, said that one explanation for the finding that members of majority religious groups seem to have larger brains than minority religious groups like born-again evangelicals and Catholics “is that when you feel your beliefs and values are somewhat at odds with those of society as a whole, it may contribute to long-term stress that could have implications for the brain.”

The researchers also suggested that “life-changing religious experiences” may challenge an individual’s established convictions, leading to stress. “Other studies have led us to think that whether a new experience you consider spiritual is interpreted as comforting or stressful may depend on whether or not it fits in with your existing religious beliefs and those of the people around you,” explained David Hayward, another of the Duke research associates. “Especially for older adults, these unexpected new experiences may lead to doubts about long-held religious beliefs, or to disagreements with friends and family.”

Meanwhile, wrote Yonat Shimron of Religion News Service, sociologists who study religion remain skeptical of the study’s findings. “They say the researchers’ theory flies in the face of U.S. religious demographics,” wrote Shimron. “While it’s true that evangelicals are a minority, they’re a sizable one — 40% of the U.S. population, according to Gallup Polls — and not exactly a stressed-out minority, especially in the South.” Said David Roozen, a sociologist at Hartford Seminary, “There are probably more born-again Protestants than non-born-again Protestants, and just about as many Catholics as either born-again or non-born-again Protestants.”

Likewise, Dr. William Struthers, a psychology professor at Wheaton College, told the Christian Post that while he found the study interesting, he wanted to closely analyze the study’s statistical variables — such as age, sex, and depression status of the participants — before drawing any conclusions. “My concern is how this data is utilized, and if it is used as a way to demean people of faith,” he said. “Is it used as a way to make people feel as if they are stupid, that their brains are smaller because they are born-again Christians or they are born-again Christians because their brains are smaller? [T]hat is a place that we want to be careful not to go.”


TOPICS: Reference; Religion; Science; Society
KEYWORDS: bornagain; brain; christians; davebohon; tna
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1 posted on 07/21/2011 7:38:01 PM PDT by Coleus
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To: Coleus

Reminds me of the researchers of a bygone era who used to study the brain cavities of Negroes and others ~ to draw conclusions.


2 posted on 07/21/2011 7:39:54 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Coleus

Riiiiight...Sure they do.


3 posted on 07/21/2011 7:41:11 PM PDT by Celtic Cross (The brain is the weapon; everything else is just accessories. --FReeper Joe Brower)
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To: muawiyah
What's next? Phrenology?
4 posted on 07/21/2011 7:41:17 PM PDT by JPG (Palin '12)
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To: Coleus
Maybe -- just maybe -- I don't want to jump to any conclusions here ... but I'm just saying that this could be bad science.

Oh, what the heck: this is bad science.

5 posted on 07/21/2011 7:41:47 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (The USSR spent itself into bankruptcy and collapsed -- and aren't we on the same path now?)
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To: Coleus

Their brains are large enough to know that they are ready for eternity not like the unbelievers who are headed to you know where but so so smart on earth.


6 posted on 07/21/2011 7:42:18 PM PDT by YukonGreen
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To: Coleus

Their brains are large enough to know that they are ready for eternity not like the unbelievers who are headed to you know where but so so smart on earth.


7 posted on 07/21/2011 7:42:30 PM PDT by YukonGreen
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To: Coleus

However, were Catholic brains smoother?


8 posted on 07/21/2011 7:42:51 PM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus ("Armed forces abroad are of little value unless there is prudent counsel at home." - Cicero)
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To: Coleus

This is so ridiculous I started laughing out loud as soon as I read the title... and I’m a born again Christian!....

Stupid FAT-heads!


9 posted on 07/21/2011 7:44:20 PM PDT by Safrguns
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To: Coleus

My belief in God does not live in my brain but in my heart and soul


10 posted on 07/21/2011 7:44:22 PM PDT by al baby (Hi Mom!!! I know i was kidding)
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To: Coleus

If these scientists are so smart, why are they so stupid?


11 posted on 07/21/2011 7:44:57 PM PDT by cblue55 (IT'S EITHER OBAMA OR AMERICA. THERE CANNOT BE BOTH.)
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To: Coleus

“The study found that those who said that they were a “born-again” Protestant or Catholic, as well as those who claimed no religious affiliation, had more brain atrophy (shrinkage) than participants who identified themselves as non-born-again Protestants.”

PLEASE note that those with no religious affiliation, which would include agnostics and atheists”, had the same atrophy.


12 posted on 07/21/2011 7:45:09 PM PDT by achilles2000 ("I'll agree to save the whales as long as we can deport the liberals")
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To: Coleus

I think I want to see this study repeated. These results are just too incredible to be left uncorroborated.


13 posted on 07/21/2011 7:45:19 PM PDT by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: Coleus
Specifically, those identified as Protestant who did not have a religious conversion or born-again experience — more common among their evangelical brethren — had a bigger hippocampus.

Ehh... The hippocampus is about the size of a green bean. It's more than a little misleading to say having a smaller hippocampus = having a "smaller brain."

14 posted on 07/21/2011 7:45:31 PM PDT by ivyleaguebrat
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To: Coleus

I wish I had a smaller brain!


15 posted on 07/21/2011 7:46:25 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
Almost forgot that one ~ the smooth brain thesis ~

I think I'm much more impressed by studies that tell me if other ethnicities or believer groups love their chilluns as much as we do.

That sort of thing is always so comforting

16 posted on 07/21/2011 7:46:45 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Coleus

This is a joke from The Onion, right?


17 posted on 07/21/2011 7:47:24 PM PDT by fwdude
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To: ClearCase_guy

It’s the same “science” that said there’s nothing pathological about homosexuality.


18 posted on 07/21/2011 7:48:33 PM PDT by fwdude
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

Did I forget my (/s)?


19 posted on 07/21/2011 7:48:52 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Coleus
11-year study

I'm speechless...

20 posted on 07/21/2011 7:49:10 PM PDT by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Coleus

I haven’t read the study yet, but look forward to it. The article about the study says that the hippocampus is bigger in “non-born again” protestants. Who says a bigger hippocampus is better?


21 posted on 07/21/2011 7:49:28 PM PDT by Check6 (United States of Moronia: A nation of morons ruled by a gang of communist thugs.)
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To: Coleus

If I’m not mistaken, brain size has little to do with actual intelligence anyway. It is a secondary factor. The fact is that most people don’t use the vast majority of their brain, so a person with a smaller brain, but who is more active intellectually, will be smarter than someone with a larger brain who refuses to think.


22 posted on 07/21/2011 7:49:59 PM PDT by RecoveringPaulisto
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To: Coleus

I would think that someone who calls themselves born again would have less stress in their life. They believe that they’re going to heaven and that God is in control. Maybe it’s the worry and uncertainty that someone who is not born again has that makes their brains “bigger” or bloated.


23 posted on 07/21/2011 7:50:42 PM PDT by smokingfrog ( sleep with one eye open ( <o> ---)
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To: al baby

Amen to that.


24 posted on 07/21/2011 7:52:30 PM PDT by LostInBayport (When there are more people riding in the cart than there are pulling it, the cart stops moving...)
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To: Coleus

Whoever wrote the title to the article has a tiny brain.


25 posted on 07/21/2011 7:52:35 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: Coleus

Lol...less worry and less worldly things to think about.


26 posted on 07/21/2011 7:52:35 PM PDT by Dallas59 (President Robert Gibbs 2009-2011)
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To: Check6
Who says a bigger hippocampus is better?

That's right! My wife says my hippocampus is just fine, and I shouldn't be embarrassed about it.

27 posted on 07/21/2011 7:53:27 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (The USSR spent itself into bankruptcy and collapsed -- and aren't we on the same path now?)
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To: Coleus
Study Shows Born-Again Christians Have Smaller Brains

We don't need the extra capacity for being our own Gods and creating laws for others to follow, for rationalizing our moral relativism, immoral behavior and choices, or for coordinating hypocritical moral standards that we don't require of ourselves, but but condemn others for violating. Doing moral somersaults requires great concentration and coordination . . . hard work for a mortal brain.

It's hard work being your own God. We Christians only have to love our God and follow the wise law and precepts that he set before us. . . and libtards think that WE are stupid . . . how amusing!

28 posted on 07/21/2011 7:56:22 PM PDT by RatRipper (I'll ride a turtle to work every day before I buy anything from Government Motors.)
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To: Coleus

WhatisthisshitIdon’teven...


29 posted on 07/21/2011 7:56:43 PM PDT by chris37 (representative)
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To: Coleus

Unbelievers have bigger brains because their cranial wiring is all mixed up. A big jumbled mess of goo on the shoulders. Believers are more nice and tidy with efficient compact wiring that makes sense. I made all that up BTW...
can I also be a scientific researcher publicist?


30 posted on 07/21/2011 7:58:25 PM PDT by tflabo ( to have been selected)
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To: Safrguns

“Stupid FAT-heads!”

At first I thought you’d hit on it: Non born agains are more fat headed so their brains are larger.

Then I realized I’ve met some fat-headed folks who claim to be born again, so I guess not.


31 posted on 07/21/2011 7:58:39 PM PDT by KrisKrinkle (Blessed be those who know the depth and breadth of their ignorance. Cursed be those who don't.)
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To: Coleus

You don’t need big harddrive when you are running off of the main server....


32 posted on 07/21/2011 7:58:39 PM PDT by ButThreeLeftsDo (FreeRepublic.com. Now, More Than Ever.)
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To: smokingfrog

Some attitudes in the modern evangelical church leads to stress, however. The disease of chronic pessimism has gripped many in the church. Tons of people are ready to just give up on renewing America, and refuse to apply the belief that God can turn the ship around whenever He pleases.


33 posted on 07/21/2011 7:58:50 PM PDT by RecoveringPaulisto
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To: All

Deceptive article.

ONLY ONE part of the brain is slightly smaller, a part that deals with memory (and highly disputed and debated...) possibly behavioral inhibitions.


34 posted on 07/21/2011 8:01:37 PM PDT by rwfromkansas ("Carve your name on hearts, not marble." - C.H. Spurgeon)
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To: Coleus

the article is poorly titled. It said that Born agains and non religous had smaller hippocampus’ than non born again protestants.

Not smaller brains, instead, a portion that is not as large as another, which also begs the question of what portions may be larger?


35 posted on 07/21/2011 8:02:35 PM PDT by Chickensoup (In the 20th century 200 million people were killed by their own governments.)
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To: Coleus

That is just plain stupid.


36 posted on 07/21/2011 8:05:32 PM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-Mormon, now Christian - "I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see")
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To: Coleus

It’s not atrophy, it’s contraction into a critical mass.


37 posted on 07/21/2011 8:06:33 PM PDT by RichInOC (Jesus is coming back soon... and man, is He ticked off. (I'm trying to keep it clean.))
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To: Coleus

The question should be, are Christians smarter than these scientists. Yes.

I am always amused at the assumption that there is a negative correlary between education (or intelligence) and faith. I have several degrees and more than one graduate degree and I’m a born again Christian.


38 posted on 07/21/2011 8:08:13 PM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-Mormon, now Christian - "I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see")
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To: Coleus

Well whadaya know! Catholics and Protestants do have something in common: we have small brains, lol. What a joke!


39 posted on 07/21/2011 8:15:10 PM PDT by Lil Flower (American by birth. Southern by the Grace of God!)
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To: Coleus
The study found that those who said that they were a “born-again” Protestant or Catholic, as well as those who claimed no religious affiliation, had more brain atrophy (shrinkage) than participants who identified themselves as non-born-again Protestants.

Tis a puzzlement...born again and atheists both have brain atrophy. Wonder why the title didn't read "Study shows agnostics and atheists to have smaller brains."

No bias in this article...no siree!

40 posted on 07/21/2011 8:17:41 PM PDT by dawn53
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To: Check6
Who says a bigger hippocampus is better?

Seven out of ten hippos.

41 posted on 07/21/2011 8:22:37 PM PDT by Misterioso (Atlas Shrugged isn't a prophecy--it's an autopsy.)
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To: ButThreeLeftsDo

There ya go...


42 posted on 07/21/2011 8:23:43 PM PDT by smokingfrog ( sleep with one eye open ( <o> ---)
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To: Coleus

LOL! Best laugh in a long time.

Silly apostates - what will their large brains come up with next.


43 posted on 07/21/2011 8:25:33 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth
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To: Check6

The chicks.


44 posted on 07/21/2011 8:28:27 PM PDT by TwoSwords (The Lord is a man of war, Exodus 15:3)
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To: Check6

The chicks.


45 posted on 07/21/2011 8:28:34 PM PDT by TwoSwords (The Lord is a man of war, Exodus 15:3)
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To: Coleus
"My concern is how this data is utilized, and if it is used as a way to demean people of faith"

Awww . . . ya think?

46 posted on 07/21/2011 8:29:07 PM PDT by YHAOS (you betcha!)
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To: WorkingClassFilth

ergo Born-Again brains are more efficient.....


47 posted on 07/21/2011 8:31:04 PM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: Coleus

this is a fake interpretation.

The size of the brain does not correlate with intelligence. If that were so, then small petite Asian women would all be stupid, and huge Irishmen would be smart.

Second, it was measuring the elderly, of people over age 58, whose brains tend to shrink with age. This is a loss of connective tissue, but not necessarily of the ability to think.

Third, by measuring only the elderly, it means that some folks have died already.This is especially important since malnutrition and poverty is associated with a smaller brain.

Since religiosity correlates with a healthy lifestyle, perhaps the poor atheists with small brains were underrepresented because they were dead, but the poor religious folk were in the study.

Four, the small number makes it probable that there was a “selection bias”...


48 posted on 07/21/2011 8:34:20 PM PDT by LadyDoc (liberals only love politically correct poor people)
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To: muawiyah

Yes, but of course, this is PC science, so it is not only acceptable, it is truth.

Anyone that argues against it will be labeled a “denier,” just like in the AGW debate.


49 posted on 07/21/2011 8:34:20 PM PDT by Ghost of Philip Marlowe (Prepare for survival.)
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To: Cvengr

Where can I get my brain measured.
This really concerns me.


50 posted on 07/21/2011 8:35:23 PM PDT by right way right
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