SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH – NEUROSCIENCE: “Brain Reacts to Religion Just Like Drugs” / The Young Turks / John Iadarola, and Ana Kasparian ☮

New research suggests people can become addicted to the feel-good brain chemicals brought on by religious experiences. Ana Kasparian and John Iadarola, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“Although religious experience impacts more than 5.8 billion people worldwide, our understanding of the brain networks involved remains obscure. In a study published today in the journal Social Neuroscience, researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine report that religious and spiritual experiences activate reward circuits in the brain — the same that are associated with feelings of love and drug-induced euphoric states.

Researchers used fMRI to image the brain’s electrical activity while spiritual feelings were evoked in participants inside the scanner. 19 young devout Mormons, 12 males and 7 females, who were all former full-time missionaries, were chosen because of the intensity of their routine religious experience—known as “feeling the spirit.” A key part of being Mormon involves identifying this experience in oneself and teaching this ability to new converts. Followers of the faith make decisions based on these feelings and view them as a way to communicate with God. This made them the ideal choice for a study aimed at uncovering the specific neural circuits involved with religious experience.

To trigger these religious feelings, participants were given four tasks over the course of an hour while their brains were scanned. The exercises were designed to emulate the Mormon religious experience, and included prayer, scripture study, audiovisual presentations of religious music with images of Biblical scenes and other strongly religious content, and quotes from church leaders. To make sure only the images of brain states associated with intense religious experience were captured, participants were intermittently asked to give subjective ratings, with responses to “Are you feeling the spirit?” ranging from “not feeling” to “very strongly feeling.”

The tasks were highly effective, as many participants were actually brought to tears during the session. Detailed first-person assessments showed that feelings of inner peace and physical sensations of warmth were common. Overall, the feelings evoked were described as similar to those experienced during a typical intense worship service.”

WHITE-WING CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN INDICTED MURDERER: “Dylann Roof to Defend Himself, Daughter of Emanuel AME Shooting Victim Unable to Forgive Him” / NewsOne Now / Roland Martin ☮

A federal judge has granted accused killer and White supremacist Dylann Roof’s request to represent himself in a federal trial that could result in his execution if found guilty.

Prosecutors say the 22-year-old high school dropout targeted the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in June 2015 to start a race war.

Roof attended their Bible study for almost an hour before removing a pistol from his fanny pack and killing nine parishioners. Five people survived the massacre, two by hiding in a nearby office.

Legal experts say by representing himself, Roof could potentially cross-examine survivors and family members of the deceased, putting them face-to-face with the accused racist killer during his trial.

CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN BIGOTRY: “Cover Boy Causes Homeschool Mom Meltdown” / The Young Turks / Cenk Uygur, and Ana Kasparian ☮

Some people can’t figure out how to explain males wearing makeup to their children. It’s not that complicated. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“When 17-year-old James Charles was named the first male ambassador for CoverGirl this month, the company’s message was simple: “All of our CoverGirls are role models and boundary-breakers, fearlessly expressing themselves, standing up for what they believe and redefining what it means to be beautiful,” the makeup brand said in a press release. “James Charles is no exception.”

But one mother did take exception to the brand’s inclusive message, penning an article for the Homeschool Conservative lamenting the impact a male CoverGirl had on her 6-year-old son.

“Mommy, why doesn’t daddy wear makeup,” 6-year-old Mark reportedly asked his mom Sarah.

“Both of us were caught off guard, we didn’t know how to answer,” Sarah wrote. “I don’t know why, but the most logical thing we could think of at that moment was to say, ‘No, that’s a girl.’”

When it became apparent that Charles is in fact a male, she told her kid, “Daddy doesn’t wear makeup because makeup is for girls.”…

“Thank god we homeschool,” the mother added.

Sarah said she’s now forced to find a new makeup brand because she “can’t support” CoverGirl’s latest GoverGirl. She noted that the company’s decision to include a male in makeup makes her “hesitant to let [her son] go over to a friend’s house.

“Our world is headed in a direction where my 6-year-old son is having to grow up so much faster than I want him to,” Sarah wrote.”

 

PROGRESSIVE POLITICAL COMMENTARY: “North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory is Attempting to Steal the Election” / NewsOne Now / Roland Martin ☮

Republicans may be rejoicing after Donald Trump’s upset victory in the 2016 presidential election, but in North Carolina – a state that our nation’s President-elect won – Republicans are pulling out all the stops post-Election Day in a brazen attempt to hold on to the governor’s mansion.

Gov. Pat McCrory lost the North Carolina governor’s race and seems to be orchestrating an attempt to steal it. Not only did Republicans lose the race, they also lost control of the state’s Supreme Court, four to three.

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, North Carolina Republicans are trying to add two new seats to the state’s High Court so the governor can appoint right-leaning judges and pack the court. If successful, the North Carolina Supreme Court would remain under Republican control.

WHITE-WING CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN RACISM: “White Resentment / Resistance Embodied by White Nationalists / Supremacists not Going Away as America Diversifies” ☮

Roland Martin spoke with MSNBC’s Sheinelle Jones about his recent interview with White Nationalist and Alt-Right spokesperson Richard Spencer.

During their chat, Martin told Jones, the media misidentified the White economic angst bubbling up in America. The host of TV One’s NewsOne Now had properly identified the White resentment and resistance that has risen to prominence as early as 2009 following the election of President Barack Obama.

Martin also explained that “White fear is real” in a changing America where no one group will be the majority and said the angst that has arisen from that fear is “nothing to play around with.”

ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM: “Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Stands With Standing Rock” / Ring of Fire / Farron Cousins ☮

Ring of Fire host and Waterkeeper President Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has joined the front lines of the Standing Rock protests, helping to fight the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.