Religion on the brain: Media accounts can make your head spin

Medical ResearchHealthPerrine

Want to see how media spin works? This time, it IS brain surgery.

The basic story: Two psychological researchers from Wayne State University found that when people have traumatic brain injuries, they rehabilitate better if they have "higher levels of religious well-being (a connection to a higher power)," according to a pretty straightforward piece in The Times of India.

Interestingly, the positive results were stronger than if patients had a more general sense that "life has a purpose apart from any religious reference," the report says.

Compare that with the tee-hee head in The Register, a tech-review site based in the United Kingdom: "Blow to the head helps people feel good about religion." Oddly, the story itself was fairly objective.

Some guarded praise came from Medindia, which announced, "Faith Can Perhaps Heal!" The lead sentence: "Faith healing need not be the territory of charlatans." A textbook left-handed compliment.

PsychCentral News offers more detail, in refreshingly clear common language. For one, researcher Brigid Waldron-Perrine notes in general, “Among healthy adults, religion and spirituality have shown strong association with improved life satisfaction and physical and mental health outcomes."

And TG Daily's version takes more of a baiting mood: "Hardcore non-believers won’t like this one. New research shows that religion has a real world use for traumatic brain injury victims."

Today's lesson? Media are not all one way or another. Some church people seem to remember articles that offend them more often, and they remember them longer. So read more than one account of something you consider important.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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