Fundamentalist beliefs have a basis in the brain. I base this on three ideas.
1. The first idea involves recent research on the neurobiology of authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism. This shows that authoritarianism and fundamentalism involve at least one particular area of the brain – the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.
2. The second idea includes the growing field of research on the neurobiology of religion. This research is described in the posts The Neuroscience of Religious Experience, The Biology of Religion, and Epiphenom.
3. The third idea relates to my own personal experience believing in fundamentalist thinking and then going in an almost completely different direction after taking antidepressants and learning more about neuroscience. I describe this journey in the posts My IQ Story and How to Increase Your Intelligence and God the Programmer. Since SSRIs are prescribed to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, it makes sense that they would reduce symptoms of religious obsessions (AKA scrupulosity) in many people who exhibit those symptoms.
This research specifically refers to religious fundamentalism, but it would be interesting to develop techniques that overcome rigid thinking in other areas of life. Cognitive inflexibility prevents people from reaching their full potential. Many businesses need extra creativity if they hope to survive and thrive. Transcranial magnetic stimulation can influence creativity and cultural interpretation (Link 1, Link 2). It would be interesting to find out if TMS affects fundamentalist and authoritarian beliefs as well. That’s a possible use for the Creativity Cap.