If there is anything that global news has shown us in the past couple of years, it's that fundamentalism is on the rise and more pervasive than ever. Fundamentalist beliefs have driven countless beheadings, bombings, and execution-style murders by terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda in the last year alone. At a time when religious extremism is running rampant in large areas of the world, and steadily growing in virtually all others, finding effective ways to fight it at its core is in the interests of all free nations.

Although many complex causes of fanatical fundamentalism have been identified by a wide range of disciplines, a growing body of evidence from the field of neuroscience suggests one major contributing factor: Brains generally accept beliefs because they have to work much harder to reject them as false.

Beliefs and the Brain

Scientific research investigating the neural underpinnings of belief got its start as recently as 2008, when popular author and neuroscientist Sam Harris began a series of brain imaging studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. The concept was simple: How is the brain activated differently during a state of belief compared to a state of disbelief? ...[Continue reading on The Daily Beast]