Remember when I mention Tom Cruise in relation to brain lesions (it wasn’t all that long ago), well, I came across this article in the Guardian (via In Fact. Ah) where they talk about the relationship between beliefs and lesions.
In people suffering from prosopagnosia, for example, parts of the brain are damaged so that the person can no longer recognise faces. In the Cotard delusion, people believe they are dead. Fregoli delusion is the belief that the sufferer is constantly being followed around by people in disguise. Capgras’ delusion, named after its discoverer, the French psychiatrist Jean Marie Joseph Capgras, is a belief that someone emotionally close has been replaced by an identical impostor.
Until recently, these conditions were regarded as psychiatric problems. But closer study reveals that, in the case of Capgras’ delusion for example, a significant proportion of sufferers had lesions in their brain, typically in the right hemisphere.”
But apart from that, the article also points out how beliefs can be created, and manipulated. Especially in times of stress.
The stress of the terror attacks on the US in 2001 changed the way many Americans viewed the world, and Taylor argues that it left the population open to tricks of belief manipulation. A recent survey, for example, found that more than half of Americans thought Iraqis were involved in the attacks, despite the fact that nobody had come out and said it.