January 12, 2005
Nobody expects the Oxford Inquisition
Oxford University scientists will carry out experiments on hundreds of people in a bid to understand how the brain works during states of consciousness.
One aspect of the two-year study will involve followers of both religious and secular beliefs being burnt to see if they can handle more pain than others.
Some volunteers will be shown religious symbols such as crucifixes and images of the Virgin Mary during the torture.
From the BBC
Posted by David on January 12, 2005 4:21 PM
First thing that popped into mind here was aversion therapy...nah, *couldn't* be...
I really like the line: "Volunteers will have a gel containing chilli powder or heat-pad applied to the back of their hand to simulate pain."
Exactly how is "simulated" pain different from real pain?
I'd be interested in knowing what the researchers intend to "prove" about religious faith. Will they also employ martial artists and other types of people who practice mind and body control in a non-religious setting as a control group?
I know, I'm taking this waaay too seriously. I oughtta be cracking wise about being forced to sit in the comfy chair.
I think they meant simulated injury (or simulated burning). Still funny, though
It doesn't sound "simulated" at all to me. Aren't they creating a chemical burn? Okay, so at least they're not setting these people on fire... Tomahto/Tomayto
The biggest question is WHO THE HELL VOLUNTEERS FOR THIS NONSENSE?
I did wonder if the use of volunteers would skew the results. Will the study control for masochistic tendencies?
I wonder if maybe they don't mean to use the word "stimulate" rather than "simulate." I find that people frequently interchange these 2 words, being confused as to what each one actually means.
As to the experiment itself--it sounds like yet another attempt to show that religious belief is some sort of psychosis. You know, belief in the unreal being both a factor in controlling one's reaction to sensation and a symptom of mental illness.
Will the study control for sadistic bias among the researchers?
This isn't what some of the uninformed, but anxious to comment, seem to think it is.
In pain research, the typical stimulus is a small amount of capsaicin applied to the skin, typically on the back of the hand, or the arm. That's it. The subject gives a subjective pain rating.
Re: Michael Edelman
"I did wonder if the use of volunteers would skew the results. Will the study control for masochistic tendencies?"
Good, question, but its overly narrow. For example, will the study control for machismo?
After all, isn't a study which asks for volunteers to see who can endure the most pain likely to attract people that don't have alot of pain aversion?
Doesn't hinting to people what they are trying to show bias the results? Can you really have a blind study in which you admit that what is at stake is bragging rights between the secular and religious communities?
Likely poor student shows up to collect $20 with NO idea of what he or she is going to be asked to do, watch, ingest or inject. A vaugly worded release form will offer little or no clue. Then the games begin :)
Everyone is different.
No two of these people are not on fire. Awwwww.
They aren't trying to disprove Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednigo, are they? ;-)
"The biggest question is WHO THE HELL VOLUNTEERS FOR THIS NONSENSE?"
"Broke college students"
Actually, it will be undergraduate students in psych classes who will be given the options of either completing a long tedious essay assignement (with footnotes) or volunteering (gratis) to be research subjects.
Broke students will remain so.
May I suggest that the most devoutly religious people in the world are to be found at Guantanemo Naval base in Cuba. Since this is scholarly research, it's OK, right?
Actually, I've volunteered for pain studies before. They're not bad. I had a little stick that generated unpleasant electrical impulses held to my wrists, and that was done while I was answering questions about...something. I can't remember.
I just had to rate the pain on a scale of 1-10. It was more annoying than anything.
Certainly, though, true wimps won't volunteer for this. And the participants won't be told when they arrive what the researchers expect to find (I hope). It's usually done pretty blind, although I suppose if they've read this it won't be.
As for machismo, I figure men and women will be analyzed separately? Other pain research I've seen separates by sex, because pain tolerances differ.
"This isn't what some of the uninformed, but anxious to comment, seem to think it is."
Silly me for commenting on the basis of the BBC's article. Next time I'll go visit a medical school library first to make sure I'm adequately "informed."
To the informed and anxious to insult: if you find people don't take you seriously, maybe you should stop taking yourself so seriously.
If the volunteers are told ahead of time what the experiment consists of, doesn't it skew the results?
Hmm, wonder if they have provisions for anaphylactic shock. I doubt I'd notice any burning, but I'm allergic to all capsicum, and I doubt I'm the only one in the world...
Let me see if I've about got this right...
They are conducting a brain scanning experiment,
-measuring subjective pain?
-measuring subjective religious belief?
-measuring subjective secular belief?
....am I missing something or does this seem useless, or dare I say unscientific?
And in two years or so the cover of a magazine will say 'Scientists prove ...blahblah people seem more pain resistant."