Friday, January 26, 2007
Friday Madness 1/26/07 : Speaking In Tongues
A while back, Andrew Newberg, MD, Associate Professor of Radiology, Psychiatry, and Religious Studies, and Director for the Center for Spirituality and the Mind, at the University of Pennsylvania, did a study where he looked at brain scans (SPECT) of people experiencing glossolalia (speaking in tongues). This is the same Dr. Newberg who earlier did a SPECT study to see if meditation helped patients with early symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease.
I was intrigued by both those studies when I first read about them, but was disappointed when I saw the details. They reminded me of a Johns Hopkins study where researchers showed that "magic mushrooms" created a mystical experience (I had a lot of fun with that one on a previous post.) None of these studies actually showed anything. They didn't have proper controls. They weren't rigorously testing hypotheses. It seemed to me all they were doing was trying to find evidence for God so they could win the Templton Prize.
P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula gave Newberg a real "bitch-slapping" when he looked at the study. He explains the flaws much better than I can. In fact, I thought there was nothing more to say on the subject. That is, until I saw this debunking video made by (18 year old) Emily.