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hat's because glossolalia is concerned with giving up control and feeling like the self is relating to god, while medication is about losing the sense of self and controlling focus and concentration.

Shouldn't that underlined "medication" be a "meditation"? Otherwise, rather interesting and good food for thought!

Congrats on your late night/early AM radio appearance! I love the fact that you're becoming a cult figure. (And btw, take a page from Scott Adams' blog - the more people who write in to tell you that you're an idiot, the righter/more popular you are becoming. lol)

So, not having been brought up in a religion that favors speaking in tongues, I never once considered trying, until I read this post. And I *instantly* knew that, like you, there was basically no way I could do it. Maybe I care about language too much, and/or wish to remain in control of myself too much, but short of a stroke, I think I'm unlikely to be indulging.

I wonder though, has anyone companred scans of brains in a state of glossalia and those of autistics? Just wondering whether there'd be any relation or not.



Hungry for Yuri? Have some Okazu:

I highly recommend H. L. Mencken's story of his encounter with Holy Rollers during the Scopes Trial. An excerpt:

"What followed quickly reached such heights of barbaric grotesquerie that it was hard to believe it real. At a signal all the faithful crowded up the bench and began to pray -- not in unison but each for himself. At another they all fell on their knees, their arms over the penitent. The leader kneeled, facing us, his head alternately thrown back dramatically or buried in his hands. Words spouted from his lips like bullets from a machine gun -- appeals to God to pull the penitent back out of hell, defiances of the powers and principalities of the air, a vast impassioned jargon of apocalyptic texts. Suddenly he rose to his feet, threw back his head and began to speak in tongues -- blub-blub-blub, gurgle-gurgle-gurgle. His voice rose to a higher register. The climax was a shrill, inarticulate squawk, like that of a man throttled. He fell headlong across the pyramid of supplicants.

"A comic scene? Somehow, no. The poor half wits were too horribly in earnest. It was like peeping through a knothole at the writhings of a people in pain. From the squirming and jabbering mass a young woman gradually detached herself -- a woman not uncomely, with a pathetic home-made cap on her head. Her head jerked back, the veins of her neck swelled, and her fists went to her throat as if she were fighting for breath. She bent backward until she was like half of a hoop. Then she suddenly snapped forward. We caught a flash of the whites of her eyes. Presently her whole body began to be convulsed -- great convulsions that began at the shoulders and ended at the hips. She would leap to her feet, thrust her arms in air and then hurl herself upon the heap. Her praying flattened out into a mere delirious caterwauling, like that of a tomcat on a petting party.

"I describe the thing as a strict behaviorist. The lady's subjective sensations I leave to infidel pathologists. Whatever they were they were obviously contagious, for soon another damsel joined her, and then another and then a fourth. The last one had an extraordinary bad attack. She began with mild enough jerks of the head, but in a moment she was bounding all over the place, exactly like a chicken with its head cut off. Every time her head came up a stream of yells and barkings would issue out of it. Once she collided with a dark, undersized brother, hitherto silent and stolid. Contact with her set him off as if he had been kicked by a mule. He leaped into the air, threw back his head and began to gargle as if with a mouthful of BB shot. Then he loosened one tremendous stentorian sentence in the tongues and collapsed.

"By this time the performers were quite oblivious to the profane universe."

Thanks for Mencken link, Blake... certainly his reaction was in keeping with the prevailing scientific attitude towards glossolalia at the time. But I should point out that not all examples of speaking in tongues is of the religious frenzy variety. For many, it's more of a peaceful, private experience; for others, even when in a group, it's less about mass hysteria and more conducted in a quieter, prayerful context. Depends on the personal preference of the individual Believer.

Erica: I'd tend to agree about some of us being less able/willing to relinquish rational control than others (who would dismiss us as being "closed to god's power" or some such thing). But based on the Newberg study, it may also be related to an affinity for language. I've always been a "word person": talked early, could read by age 4, was endlessly fascinated with trying to make sense of both spoken and written words. It's a part of my brain that is VERY difficult to turn off, because I compulsively (almost subconsciously) try to parse things, looking for units and sentence structure, even when I'm not consciously doing so. So it's true: I lack a natural affinity for glossolalia. It's scientific. Now I can finally put that traumatic childhood episode behind me and repair by damaged self-esteem. :)

Don't know about studies related to autism; it would be interesting... But I suspect they're two different things, even though they might share some areas of the brain.

I enjoyed your visit to Coast2Coast, Saturday night. I was quite impressed with your ability to field questions on a myriad of topics. I am an engineering student and a devotee of the scientific method and your perspective was welcome on a program which lends itself to guests with circular logic and questionable "research".

I look forward to your book on sound energy. It was a pleasure to hear you.

Thanks for doing Coast to Coast!! Really enjoyed your interview. Don't assume all listeners tow the line - there is precious little material on any mass media about physics etc - Bell's forum allows for speculation about the unknown which many scientists are keen to disavow (for some odd reason). Hope to hear you again - I plan to read your book!

Unless I'm mistaken, the "speaking in tongues" event in Acts consisted of the words of the Apostles being understood by everyone in hearing as if it were their native language. It seems this would be an easy-enough phenomenon to test, then.

Get a group of serious, willing practitioners of "speaking in tongues". One will do the speaking, the rest will just listen. Immediately after the speaker finishes, hustle the others away to separate rooms and have each of them say what he or she heard. If "speaking in tongues" really works, all of the listeners should give the same "translation" of the speech.

The only potential "trick" that I can think of would be the possibility that the group were in collusion, and they'd rehearsed the "speech" and "translation". Therefore, believers who had never actually met would be the way to go.

I LOVED your interview, very intuitive and entertaining. Its very rare that I stay up and listen to an entire radio interview especially with the work schedule and school being so tight. I plan on staying a pretty religious follower of your blogs. Hopefully put my 19 year old, unexperienced brain to work.

Jennifer, I wish you had put up an announcement about your C2C gig. Bummer, I was up late Saturday night, too. I could have compared you to that physics dude over at Cosmic Variance. I'm sure you did great, though. ;-)

Jennifer, I wish you had put up an announcement about your C2C gig. Bummer, I was up late Saturday night, too. I could have compared you to that physics dude over at Cosmic Variance. I'm sure you did great, though. ;-)

Speaking of twisted tongues, I quite like "notwitstanding" above. It's more apropos than "notwithstanding" in the context. Perhaps the emotional part of your brain overrode your frontal lobe spelling center in order to suppress the "h."

Hope to see you in San Francisco this weekend . . .

In response to "runolfr" post of 02/12 and his comment as follows:
"Unless I'm mistaken, the "speaking in tongues" event in Acts consisted of the words of the Apostles being understood by everyone in hearing as if it were their native language. It seems this would be an easy-enough phenomenon to test, then.

Get a group of serious, willing practitioners of "speaking in tongues". One will do the speaking, the rest will just listen...."

This is not so strange since at my first exposure to the practice was at a prayer meeting some 20 yrs ago. It just so happens that I speak French. During this praying time some lady next to me started to "pray in the spirit" and it was in perfect French. Now I happened to know and confirmed that she did not speak French. So there you are! It's not so strange after all.

If you want more on socially constructed outlandish behavior patterns, check out latah or Dancing Frenchmen syndrome. Speaking in tongues is obviously learned behavior, expected in certain social conditions. You'll note that no one is expected to actually start speaking in an unfamiliar language, despite the biblical description.

You might also consider looking up scat, the musical form, not fecal matter.

I've also read/heard about instances of people speaking in languages they haven't learned; one of my friends spoke in Mandarin at one point (although she had taken a semester of Chinese prior to that, so I suppose she might have been recalling forgotten bits of her limited Mandarin).

My personal experience with tongues has been very in keeping with the neurobiological research. That is, as a skeptic, I've been extremely wary of speaking in tongues in front of people. It has on a few occasions taken me a tremendous amount of willpower to engage in something with which I'm completely comfortable in private, even with only one very intimate friend present. So I read the experience as a release of the conscious and reasonable self and a deliberate step into what the New Testament (is it Paul?) calls the foolishness of God. And of course, writing it out in plain view of other skeptics I feel almost ashamed; why would anyone want to surrender their reason and self restraint for the so-called foolishness of some supposedly higher power? And yet I recall the experience as authentic and deeply healing. Decidedly emotional instead of reasonable, but beneficial in some sense nonetheless.

As far as the idea of interpretation of tongues, I find the suggestion of separating the True Believers and asking them to produce similar interpretations of a glossolaliac (please forgive the neologism) speaker ironically fundamentalist. Doesn't that assume that God's words must be interpreted the same way by everyone, that there can be no room for God to speak to different listeners in different ways?

Ha! I know this is an older entry - but, I stumbled acrossed it and felt the need to comment.

I had a pretty screwed up childhood, that included years of churches where speaking in tongues was the norm. My own mother was pretty good at it herself and can now speak in tongues in over 30 languages today. ;)

I remember feeling pressured to participate at a young age. I wish I would've kicked them in the knees - but, I figured it was easy enough to do it, so I did. I never really felt comfortable doing it though. I also fell down on purpose once when they were laying hands - just because it looked like the thing to do. Talk about peer pressure! LOL

When I was a teen we switched to an even more dramatic church. Here, every sunday one person would break out yelling in tongues while people raised their hands and prayed and swayed... then, there'd be a brief silence... and then, someone else would miraculously KNOW what the first person said... they would walk over to some poor lost soul, (it was alwaus very suspensful to see WHO was going to get yelled at by God that time), and they would lay their hand on them and say loudly, "and the LORD SAYETH UNTO YOU!!!......"... and proceed to give them a big lecture on something.

I remember wondering why God didn't just tell the first person what he was saying and why we had to go thru the tongues translator? And, how could God be doing these miraculous things - speaking thur brother Bob over there or whomever, EVERY sunday? 3, 4 times sometimes? And why was it that the one guy that always seemed to know what God was saying, was in my eyes, one of the biggest ex-losers on earth.. but, now, all of a sudden, I was suppose to take his advice as being GOD's??

Anyway - I need to hear the complete interview you did... and read more on this from you. I loved your comments.

Thanks for sharing!


Comments on the research were interesting to read. If you want to see some more discussion check my blog:
The comments to my post, I found very interesting.

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