Go-Alongs Have Bigger Hippocampi

I know that headlines are written to the grab eyeballs. Here’s one that grabbed mine:

Being ‘Born-Again’ Linked to More Brain Atrophy: Study

That was in about 16pt. It was followed by this sub-heading–which did not get published to the feed I followed to the article:

But so was having no religious affiliation, researchers say

This was in 8pt.

The article says that both born-again people and people who are quite not religious have a physically diminished hippocampus in comparison to people who are rather lukewarm about the whole religion thing.

Among other findings?

The researchers suggested that stress over holding religious beliefs that fall outside of the mainstream may help explain the findings. [emphasis added]

Hmm. Nothing like being certain, is there?

In case we are having trouble connecting all of the links, we have this:

Shrinkage of the hippocampus is also associated with depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

I wonder if the association of these negative things is so well defined as the one which is the point of the primary headline?

I know my headline doesn’t have the shock factor–but I believe it to be a bit more accurate.

2 thoughts on “Go-Alongs Have Bigger Hippocampi

  1. There is biology-hard science and psychology soft science, but this experiment connects human behavior to human physiology so poorly that I’m forced to label it “squishy” science. The terms are so imprecise as to be practically worthless. What is the difference between “not quite religious” and “lukewarm” about religion? Also what controls were in place to make certain that subjects were not influenced unduly by other factors such as health, possible intimidation ( I suspect the researchers of possibly having an anti-religious bias)and so forth?

    Then there is the whole matter of how many “born again” individuals in the study accept/think about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even the Apostle Paul said that of all men “we would be most miserable if Christ be not risen.” How many of the “born again” subjects believe in the reality of the Resurrection. Religion without belief in this crucial doctrine of hope and power is dreary indeed.

    1. Squishy science makes it sound as though we are discussing frogs or toads, but I believe you’ve the right of it. The study–like all to many studies–is good for little more than an eye-catching headline.

      One could probably write a grant for another study to answer all the questions you brought up–though one sees little benefit in that.

      There are probably more practitioners of dreary religion than probably any other sort.

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