Thursday, March 01, 2012

The God Helmet: Your Brain on Religion

The Centre for Inquiry (Toronto) is trying to get back on track after CFI fired two National Executive Directors and the director of CFI Ontario/Toronto. We've lost our facility on Beverley Street so we now have to meet at various other locations in different parts of the city.

The Freethinkers Skeptics and Atheists (Free[SAY]) at York University have organized a talk on "The God Helmet: Your Brain on Religion" featuring Michael Persinger and his God Helmet. Here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia article.
During the 1980s he stimulated people's temporal lobes artificially with a weak magnetic field to see if he could induce a religious state (see God helmet). He claimed that the field could produce the sensation of "an ethereal presence in the room". This research has received wide coverage in the media, with high profile visitors to Persinger's lab Susan Blackmore and Richard Dawkins reporting positive[8] and negative[9] results respectively.

The only published attempt, by a research group in Sweden, to replicate these effects failed to do so and concluded that subjects' reports correlated with their personality characteristics and suggestibility. They also criticised Persinger for insufficient double-blinding.[10] Persinger responded that the Swedish group had an incorrect computer setup,[11] a claim that the Swedish group dispute,[12] and that many of his previous experiments were indeed carried out double-blind,[13] although the Swedish group have also disputed this.[12]
Persinger is also famous for suggesting that "extremely low-frequency (ELF) electromagnetic waves may be able to carry telepathic and clairvoyant information" and for his "1975 Tectonic Strain Theory (TST) of how geophysical variables may correlate with sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) or Marian apparitions." He also claims that women are far more susceptible to his God Helmet than men [Evolution Makes Women Stupid].

To my great embarrassment Michael Persinger won the contest for TV Ontario's Best Lecturer in 2007.

Here's your chance to meet Michael Persinger on Friday March 9, 2012 at York University. The Centre for Inquiry is co-sponsoring the event.

What if we could recreate a religious experience by simply flipping a switch in the brain? What if we could produce the feeling that someone or something is watching over us on demand? According to neuroscientific research conducted with The God Helmet, this may be possible.

The God Helmet, invented by Stanley Koren and used primarily by Dr. Michael Persinger, has forced us to reconsider the neurological basis of religion in the brain. The headgear is controversial because when electromagnetic waves are sent through a subject's temporal lobe, it can create the feeling of a religious experience, or a sense of belonging. “We basically imitate what happens within the brain itself during a mystical experience,” says Dr. Persinger.

In this engaging lecture with guest speakers Trevor Carniello and Dr. Michael Persinger, learn about how The God Helmet works and discover the origin of religious experiences in the brain. Join us in this exclusive opportunity to be able to ask Dr. Persinger questions and find answers to your curiosities about God, the brain and religion.

The lecture takes place on Friday, March 9th at York University. Tickets are available at This event is brought to you by Free[SAY]: Freethinkers, Skeptics and Atheists at York in collaboration with the Center For Inquiry.


  1. "find answers to your curiosities about God, the brain and religion."

    I am not curious about the combination of God, the brain and religion and the only reason I would put on a helmet is to protect myself when riding a bicycle and to block out the voices of people wanting to talk to me about religion.

    Speaking of CFI, see Ian Bushfield's post, "CFI Canada: Where are they now?":

  2. If you are not interested in this combination, then why take the time to comment on this page?

  3. There are two sides to this story.
    Look at this: