Newsweek panders to the deluded again

Although PZ is far more cynical than I, I agree with his assessment: "Here’s a deep message for you: brain damage can persuade you of the truth of some real bullshit."

Most of us who have known loved ones or friends who sustained injury to the brain or stroke  and spend time in a coma return to awareness with some very interesting stories. It is not at all unusual, and can easily be explained by neuroscience. 

The anatomic basis of delusions after right cerebral infarction

"Delusional misidentifications and duplications: Right brain lesions, left brain delusions", 

"Delusional state following acute stroke". 


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If a person believes in a heaven, and that it's supposed to look a certain way, and have certain creatures in it....and then you have some kind of brain accident, yeah it's possible that neurons firing at random will cause pictures, random images to float through the mind.  And then your brain tries to fit the randomness into a coherent "thread." 

Sort of like people seeing "images" where there are "The Man (or rabbit) in the Moon," or the "Virgin Mary" on a grilled cheese sandwich.

The word comes from the Greek words para (παρά, "beside, alongside, instead") in this context meaning something faulty, wrong, instead of; and the noun eidōlon (εἴδωλον "image, form, shape") the diminutive of eidos. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia, seeing patterns in random data.

I saw a blurb about this story in the  "headlines" on my Yahoo log-in page, and ignored it as their usual tabloid crap.  And Newsweek is taking this man's story seriously?  I think if I subscribed to that rag, I'd ask for my money back.  Or send it to Jay Leno for his Silly Headlines segment.  Or both.

BTW My dad had a catastrophic left-brain stroke that paralyzed the entire right side of his body, and deprived him of the ability to speak.  But for the few weeks that he lived after that, he knew exactly what was going on (answered yes-no questions rationally with a nod or a negative shake), and tried to end it all several times by pulling out his IV tubes and things. (I would do the same thing.)  T'was fortunate for all of us that he only lived about 6 more weeks, because he hated being alive in that condition.  It was his worst nightmare come true...his mother had a similar stroke in 1945, and lived for six months as an almost-vegetable.  {shudders}

There is so much we still don't know about the brain/mind....I think there are some fascinating studies going on.  I just wish I could understand more of it, but I lack the education.


sk8eycat, I had to look and look before I saw the little girl on his lap. Fascinating. Yes, I have been reading articles by skeptics about patternicity,  a term coined by Michael Shermer. 
Patternicity: Finding Meaningful Patterns in Meaningless Noise

How sad about your mother's and father's strokes. I can't even imagine what being locked in my body without ability to speak or move. Their conditions must have been very stressful for you and your family members. 
New studies in neuroscience holds some great promise. 

It was Dad's mother (my grandmother) who was locked in her body in 1945.  I was only 5 at the time, and I barely remember it...I think they took me to see her in the nursing home once, but she was almost comatose by then.

I suspect that she was an undiagnosed diabetic; Dad was diagnosed with Type 2 when he was 56, and I was diagnosed with the same thing when I was 61 or 62. I forget what year, I just remember that the day was Cinco de Mayo.  Dr. BadJokes said something like "Buenos Dias!  You have diabetes!"  Anyway, Dad's sister lived to be 100, but she was boderline diabetic for her final 40 years, and a lot of cousins on that side of the family also have it.  Or had it.

We cope.  And there is so much more that is known and can be done about it now than in 1960 (when Dad was diagnosed)...blood-testing meters for one thing....I would rather DIE than have to pee on a tiny strip of paper every day.  Ew.

So heaven has puffy pink clouds - hehe - yeah right.

The brain is still being studied - so there is a scientific reason why people see strange things or hallucinations when the brain has had an injury.


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