This Is Your Brain on God

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Pew has posted the transcript of the panel I attended on religion and the brain. Andy Newberg’s opening talk is fascinating, and David Brooks junkies can read a re-mixed version of his “Neural Buddhism” column from last week. There are also pictures! Very striking how many people are wearing pink. Politics is a large subtopic of discussion, and here’s the transcript of a response that struck me as not-quite-a-joke at the time:

NEWBERG: One of the questions that came up to me, which I think has to be dealt with in some way, is if Wright has been talking to Obama for 20 years, what has that done to Obama’s brain? How has that affected his neurons and so forth? (Laughter.) Even though he doesn’t talk like that, it goes back to what is in the unconscious.

Now, it is unfair to hold somebody accountable for their unconscious. But on the other hand, what do you do with that? I think some of that stuff needs to be addressed. I think that is part of what we all unconsciously think about. How does he get this out of his system, so to speak?

BROOKS: There is an incipient little Jeremiah Wright sitting in the brain.

NEWBERG: Yeah, right, exactly. (Laughter.)

BROOKS: Maybe if we activated the Manchurian candidates. (Laughter.)

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