Sunday, April 05, 2009

God is Electromagnetic

Over the course of human history, countless people have tried to commune with the Supreme Being of their choice. In a time when Jesus has apparently decided to make guest-appearances on slices of toast, it seems that more and more people are experiencing the mystical. But there remains that sad minority of people who, try as they may, just can't seem to muster up a religious vision or "out of body" event.

Worry no more! At last the rest of us can gossip with the godhead! Even today's man-on-the-go can be Born Again, thanks to a miraculous new device invented by a Canadian scientist named Michael Persinger. Persinger was already controversial for his claims that UFO experiences are hallucinations produced by electromagnetic waves emanating from shifting tectonic plates. Through this research, he began investigating the similarities between UFO sightings and hierophanies. He noted that temporal lobe epileptics had reported seeing Saints during seizures.

To test his theories, Persinger created a device that stimulated the parietal and temporal lobes in the right hemisphere of the brain using magnetic fields. The original apparatus was installed into a customized snow-mobile helmet, although subsequent versions were far more hi-tech. 80% of those who took part in Persinger's experiments claimed to have perceived an ethereal being in the room, felt a connection to another intelligence, or felt as though someone that they knew had died.

Persinger had received earlier criticism during his UFO work for slipshod testing procedures and leaping to conclusions. His new brain experiments drew much of the same criticism, but he still had his supporters. Susan Blackmore, an English writer on the subjects of psychology and memeplexes, agreed with Persinger's conclusions and reported having an "extraordinary" experience while using the machine. This could, however, be attributed to her documented pre-existing interest in the paranormal and her "extraordinary" experience could very well be a manifestation of the Observer-Expectancy Effect. Swedish researchers attempted to duplicate Persinger's experiments, making sure to use double-blind conditions. They decided that the results were inconclusive, especially after failing to induce potent religious feelings in famed atheist Richard Dawkins. Persinger countered that the Swedes had not followed his complete procedure, and that the subjects were not sufficiently exposed to the magnetic waves.

Is the machine holy or is it a mere hoax? Is god an hallucination? Regardless, the Hyper Chefs conclude that the device is ultimately unnecessary, and that people will believe anything in the right circumstances (or with the application of the right drugs). If you will permit us a Soap-Box Moment: extraordinary claims always require extraordinary proof, and no claims are more extraordinary than those made by religion. Such things should never just be given the benefit of the doubt. We assert that all evidence indicates it is mankind who writes the recipes, and that there is no celestial Chef de Cuisine breathing down our necks. Without such cultural and conceptual restraints, people can be free to cook up whatever they want.

For better or for worse.

Further Reading
-The Telegraph's articles on the subject
Wired Magazine's article on Michael Persinger
-The BBC's assessment of the Dawkins test

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