back to article Simply viewing Apple kit provokes religious euphoria

A team of British neuroscientists has confirmed what IT atheists have known for years - that the brains of Jobsian cult members respond to the sight of Apple products in much the same way that religious believers respond to religious imagery. In a recent BBC documentary, Secrets of the Superbrands (BBC iPlayer), the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How pathetic.

    What a bunch of Lemmings.

    1. Thomas Davie


      Now go watch the documentary, and observe that followers of other brands at least behave similarly... Unfortunately, they didn't subject them to the same testing. Bias at all?

      1. hoffmeister


        I think you just proved the theory.....

      2. Is it me?


        The same applies to lots of things, car owners are particularly subject to this kind of behaviour, but also HiFi. Try and tell a BMW owner that a Merc is better, or vice versa.

        Sadly, I'm not afflicted by this kind of behaviour, which actually makes buying stuff more fun, you can actually work out what's best for your needs.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      The poor dimwits who get sucked in by the marketing hype or the braying morons that are going to post the same soporific boilerplate shite 180 times?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Also dead salmons understand human emotions

    The same type of technology (fMRI - the "f" bit means functional and quite different from "normal" MRI you'd have in a hospital) has been used to find that a fully dead salmon can perceive emotional state of humans from photos.

    So take this "research" with a pitch of salt :-) (and herbs in the case of the salmon, yum)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Denial doesn't help

      The first step to recovery is admitting you're an addict

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Roger Varley

      Also dead salmons ...

      Is it something specific to the University of Warwick that they keep producing "research" like this ....?

      1. E 2

        @Roger Varley

        Pointing out the deficiencies in eg MRI is just as valuable as designing MRI in the first place.

        If they can measure a dead salmon's responding to pictures using an MRI, that implies we may be taking MRI a bit too seriously.

  3. Mage Silver badge
    Jobs Halo

    I'm Surpised!

    Not at the research but that Vulture Central took so long to notice it (or print it). :)

    Of course what other icon is possible?

  4. cnapan

    I was in the cult!

    I was in the apple cult for years. But the glory that was the '5300c' laptop finally cured me.

    We did get an ipod for the car (it only had an ipod dock so we had no choice). Each time I want to get music on to it via non-jobsian sources, it is like sticking pins in my eyes, so I won't be joining the cult again anytime soon.

    1. Simon2
      Thumb Up

      Hack/modify it the audio pins

      Get a pin out diagram of the connector and modify it to get access to the audio output pins. Then wire a 3.5mm jack to the wires and then you can use any portable media player.

      Why's there no light bulb icon.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        To be fair

        If he can't even get other music files into his iPod, which really couldn't be more easy, do you expect him to be able to faff around with his car audio connector?

        1. JEDIDIAH

          To be fair...

          The car audio connection should be a standard input and you should be able to connect the iPod to your computer in a standard way too.

          Real standards versus the Apple version of that idea.

          He didn't seem to be saying that he "can't" use iTunes but rather than he would rather not.

          I can't say I disagree with him.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            RE: To be fair...

            "He didn't seem to be saying that he "can't" use iTunes but rather than he would rather not."

            Oddly enough, I just read an article in the Guardian about someone who bought an Ipod shuffle, but when they connected it to their computer, an message came up saying the iPod "cannot be used because it requires iTunes version 10.0 or later". When they downloaded iTunes 10, another message popped up: "Open Failed … This package type requires Mac OS X 10.5."

            So basically, they had to pay to upgrade their software to run iTunes on a computer that wasn't very old.

            Original article here:


    2. dougal83
      Jobs Horns

      iTunes Fail

      SharePod on the PC makes an all day conflict with iTunes into a 30 minute walk in the park. Google it.

  5. Adze

    Loving the...

    ...Blackberry ads on this article :D

    Pirate: because there's no poacher icon.

  6. NoneSuch Silver badge

    If Apple is Church...

    Then I shall avoid Church religiously.

  7. David 45


    That's the tingle I get in MY brain when I see Apple kit - the bit that controls the wallet!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Wallets ...

      Are for grown-ups.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Halo

      Isn't that standard?

      Isn't that standard with most cults?

      1. Elmer Phud

        Who are you calling a cult?

        Church of Apple =Church of Scientology, discuss

  8. alwarming
    Paris Hilton

    "... the brain areas that have evolved to process religion"

    So, ahem, God doctored it's own existence ? (if you follow the circular logic of creationists).

    Paris, for that special tingly feeling.

    1. dognolegs
      Thumb Up

      Well spotted...

      is that what they call 'begging the question'?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That might be a little bit backwards

      "This suggests that the big tech brands have harnessed, or exploit, the brain areas that have evolved to process religion,”

      I think perhaps religion may have been invented to fill these holes, and that some people use other things to fill the hole such as consumer goods be they fashionable ideas, clothes, cars, houses or big tech brands.

      I seriously doubt that deep within the offices of apple there is a secret research laboratory studying ways to full fill peoples need to elevate something to a level beyond mortality with shiny shiny igoodies. No matter how much I would like their to be a false idol department.

      1. E 2

        It's a rondo

        Maybe God exists and put those holes there deliberately.

        Also - of course Apple has an office where they study ways to fulfill peoples' need to elevate. All serious retail crop have such an office. It is called the marketing department.

      2. hplasm
        Thumb Up

        Religion was then,

        created to fill the hole that was waiting for Apple (pbui) to emerge.

      3. tony2heads

        Tear down the false idols

        But I hear that Apple's profits are OK

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Citizen401

      Neurobiology, creationism and naturalism

      "So, ahem, God doctored it's [sic] own existence ? (if you follow the circular logic of creationists)."

      Though I don't wish to start a creationist/atheist flame war, this does bring up an interesting issue:

      An atheist/naturalist can only assume on a basis of faith that logic and mathematics (both neurobiologically determined precepts) are representative of the real world. Logic cannot be proven empirically, because it is primary to perception and therefore determines the very standards of evidence. Using derivative evidence to prove logic is a formal logical fallacy by circular reasoning. Logic cannot be proven using rational arguments as that would be a tautology (ie. using logic to prove logic). Moreover, the perceived meaningful utility of logic is determined by evidentiary feedback, and risks circularity if it is used in support of logic.

      For a creationist who believes that the brain was designed for the purpose of understanding ontologic problems, it's a much easier proposition to assert that neurobiological processes are reflective of the real world. Though this argument regresses to the foundational belief that a primary metaphysical cause had designed the brain, it remains a formally valid logical argument, and much more elegant in line with the Occam's razor tradition.

      I'm sure it's ironic from your point of view that it is actually the atheistic position that is prone to circularity when it comes to the epistemology of neurobiological precepts.

      1. alwarming
        Paris Hilton

        RE: Neurobiology, creationism and naturalism

        Unless... there really is no portion of brain exclusively devoted to devotees ? That should preempt

        the debate.

        PS: I wish I was as smarter and counter argue in a constructive manner, but as you can see I am the sort who gets tingly feelings by looking at a 2x2 of Paris.

      2. Steven Roper

        Just a minute...

        Digging through your very impressive word salad has left me with the distinct impression that you think the argument for an intelligent Creator fulfills Occam's Razor more than the argument that mathematics and logic represent the real world. Since Occam's Razor is a statement about creating the minimum possible entities to explain a phenomenon, how does positing a Creator more uphold Occam's Razor than explaining it through commonly observable natural forces?

        Bear in mind that any physical object exists in and of itself, and exhibits the same behaviour in relation to the universe reqardless of how it is observed. For example, a rock falling from a high place will accelerate towards the ground even if nobody or nothing else is there to observe it. Just as 2 plus 2 equals 4 to any sapient creature in the Universe. By this commonality of perception, which must by definition represent the real world since the phenomenon will have the same predictable effect upon anyone influenced by it, we can accurately predict such things as the motions of celestial bodies and the behaviour of certain materials under stress, which is something your creationist cannot do anywhere near as reliably or accurately by appealing to his creator entity.

        1. Citizen401

          Axioms and foundational beliefs

          "By this commonality of perception, which must by definition represent the real world since the phenomenon will have the same predictable effect upon anyone influenced by it"

          There are a number of problems with assuming that a commonality of perception is reflective of broader validity. At the level of basal sensory integration (ie. lower perception) this may hold some truth, if one excludes pathologically altered mental states. However, interpretive processes in higher perception are subject to numerous idiosyncratic axiomatic assumptions (ie. individual systems of "world view" beliefs which by virtue of their relationship to perception are unprovable/unfalsifiable and can only exist as faith-based assumptions.)

          Among such axiomatic assumptions are the neurobiological precepts (logic, geometry and mathematics as mentioned before), the metaphysical doctrines (naturalism, atheism, theism, uniformitarianism), and the axioms of perception (the philosophies of direct realism, indirect realism and representationalism.)

          Regardless of whether you are a naturalistic/atheistic empiricist, or a creationist with belief in a first ontologic cause for all existence, you require faith-based assumptions in order to be capable of thought. There must be a system of unprovable/unfalsifiable first principles to perception itself, because without this, perception would simply be impossible.

          These are fairly run-of-the-mill epistemological problems which can be traced back hundreds of years, in the philosophies such as foundationalism and the Munchausen trilemma.

          1. Ru

            Re: Axioms and foundational beliefs

            Creationism may or may not be valid, but faith in and worship of a creator seems pretty futile and baseless. Colour me agnostic.

            In the meantime, I'll content myself with reading this sort of thing on the internet, the result of a couple of hundred years of the application of mathematics and logic and science and engineering that may or may not reflect the real world but seems to have quite tangible results.

            1. Citizen401

              Meaningful utility and validity

              "a couple of hundred years of the application of mathematics and logic and science and engineering that may or may not reflect the real world but seems to have quite tangible results."

              This is ostensibly a valid point, and don't get me wrong here because I am not in any way undermining the validity of logic and mathematics. As you'll note earlier, I stated that the dyad of empiricism/rationalism at the core of the scientific method is not undermined, but reassured, by belief in a first existential cause.

              One has to be careful though in validating precepts (such as the logical axioms) on the basis of their perceivable utility, because in the history of science, perceived utility has very rarely correlated with broader validity. For example, proponents of a flat earth theory derived considerable utility from this idea in the form of navigation, military coordination, construction and resource allocation. Admittedly, flat earth theory is falsifiable, and logic is not, but the epistemological restrictions I've described are valid in either case. This pertains to the idea of perceived utility and perceived scientific progress being direct indices of empirical feedback.

              On the converse, consider, hypothetically, that besides logic and mathematics, there were alternative modes and precepts of perception and critical thinking which allowed far broader appreciation and understanding of natural laws and processes.

        2. Mystic Megabyte

          @Steven Roper

          "Just as 2 plus 2 equals 4 to any sapient creature in the Universe. "

          That's a common mistake, 2+2 actually equals 5 because someONE has to have been counting.

          As in the Quantum world, observing a particle will alter it's state.

        3. Citizen401

          Creationism and science

          I recall that it was a certain eminent creationist by the name of Isaac Newton who formulated the systematic basis of knowledge that allowed us to understand the movement of celestial bodies.

          Creationism is the belief in a primary ontologic cause to all existence, and does not abrogate the empirical or rational methodologies which underlie the scientific process. The secular counterpart to creationism is not science, it is the principle of naturalism, a belief which is as unfalsifiable and non-empirical as creationism itself. The claim that creationism is at odds with science stems from the critical misunderstanding that scientific methodology is only valid under a naturalistic premise.

          Whereas in the past, science was upheld by individuals who maintained a primary theistic belief, scientific progress is now maintained by those who operate under a doctrinal assumption in naturalism; many of whom are not aware that it is an axiomatic or faith-based assumption akin to any religious system. There is no more rational basis by which to exclude a theistic premise in science than there is to exclude the naturalistic position, as both are unfalsifiable foundational beliefs, and the essentials of scientific methodology do not differ under either premise.

          To put this into context, most contemporary scientific research is observation-based study that, at an essential level, has no requirement for naturalistic assumptions. The majority of the evidence-based findings in peer reviewed journals are compatible with both theistic and atheistic precepts. The discrepancies arise when scientific methodology attempts to address issues pertaining to the study of origins, at which level differences between the standards of evidence maintained by theism and atheism become pronounced enough to provoke a conflict of religious opinions.

          1. Anonymous Coward


            "Creationism is the belief in a primary ontologic cause to all existence"

            No, creationism is the belief that we and the world (and by extension, the universe) around us were created as we are now in all our current complexity and contradictory absurdity deliberately and, from the point of view of scientific timescales, fairly recently. This is directly at odds with the scientific determination that all things have developed over time according to natural forces.

            The consideration by scientists who still hold to religion, that outside all we can observe scientifically there is a supernatural creator responsible for kicking it all off in the first place, is a philosophical position that admittedly science is ill-equipped to address. But that is not the creationist's agenda.

            1. Citizen401


              "creationism is the belief that we and the world (and by extension, the universe) around us were created as we are now in all our current complexity and contradictory absurdity deliberately and, from the point of view of scientific timescales, fairly recently."

              You're refering to young earth creationism, as opposed to the more broadly inclusive definition I've proposed. Though it seems you've approached this exchange of ideas with your own narrow preconceptions, and reacted in a coping manner characteristic of those who cannot argue on intrinsic merit, let me explain carefully how the rest of your argument is incorrect.

              "the scientific determination that all things have developed over time according to natural forces."

              This is the metaphysical doctrine of naturalism, ie. the absence of belief in metaphysical causation. Despite your claims, naturalism is unfalsifiable and it is certainly not derived from scientific "determination". There are also numerous formal logical problems associated with such an ontologic belief. If you'd like to demonstrate otherwise, you can provide an empirical argument that proves it to be correct. Indeed, if you can, it would make you better than any other secular philosopher of science that has ever existed.

              Any philosophical position regarding the metaphysical, whether it is a belief or an absence of belief (as in naturalism) can only exist as a presupposition before perception. This means that an observer must either commit to a belief or a disbelief in metaphysical causation before one experiences the real world, and that belief then determines experience accordingly. It also means an empirically neutral position in metaphysical causation (ie. "I'll believe it when I have evidence") is not possible.

              To demonstrate this idea further: One analogy to naturalism would be with the philosophy of direct realism, which asserts that one's senses are accurate, comprehensive and exclusive in rendering our experience of the real world. Naturalism, is in essence, a directly realistic assertion that the physical modalities of phenomenal experience and measurement are accurate, comprehensive and exclusive in rendering the real world, and that there is nothing else (eg. a metaphysical reality) besides this experience. In either case, it is clear that such beliefs can only exist as presuppositions before experience.

              1. CalmYourNipples


                i have to admire your patience with these responses, but arent you taking it a bit hard on the numbnuts here?

                the average readers--including, it seems, most of the people you're responding to--have trouble distinguishing arse from elbow

                i'm not complaining, because you have some interesting ideas, but you could try and use simpler language

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

              2. This post has been deleted by its author

        4. nsld

          Have a beer

          "Digging through your very impressive word salad"

          Thats going to get some use me thinks


        5. Anonymous Coward

          haha oh wow

          I had to upvote you just for "word salad"

  9. Mr Young


    It sounds like I found my portable MRI scanner at last - I'll probably never be able to remember how I lost it but that doesn't matter now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Love it!

      good stuff

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Can't say I blame them really

    After all, good kit is good kit be it fine art, beautifully treated timber, ... or an incredible balance of hardware, software aesthetically combined into a form of beauty. (Well, compare it to beige box mentality).

    1. Denarius Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      design beauty and the hots

      @AC, so true. I get shivers when the local Spitfires fire up or I see images of the SR71 or Valkyrie.

      Well designed and engineered stuff just looks right compared to imitiations. ie Concord vs Concordski. Irony is that the cheaper imitiation often survives longer as so often better optimised for markets real requirement. Usually that means cheaper and less efficient ;-<

      Apple do make stuff that just works. Whether the crippleware that goes with it is enough of a problem depends on Joe User.

    2. E 2

      My boxes are all black

      And they are beautiful too.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    what reaction does a BSOD get?

    or a brown zune or even clippy? :D

    1. Stewart Atkins

      A title is required

      Most religions have their demons ;-)

  12. johnnymotel

    equally funny...

    would be if the same MRI scanner found that using Windows gave the same brain responses as people feeling suicidal.

    1. tryfan


      You don't need an MRI scanner for that...

  13. Wanda Lust

    Does looking at brains make you go all wobbly?

    The look the presenter got from the neurologist when he asked this question was priceless.

    He also touched on the issue of location tracking. It's all about advertising, innit? We just need to stop buying. Wasn't Google supposed to destroy all that data they got from Wardriving? Seems like they still have my access point's MAC address - check yours here:

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Wasn't Google supposed to destroy all that data they got from Wardriving?

      No. Not all the Data, only the Packet Contents is deemed as private and has been destroyed, (some of this was plain text email etc..) the packet headers are considered Routing Data and are read by every single device the packet passes through, just as the postman uses your address on the envelopes he delivers to you, he does not open the envelopes!

      Your MAC address is like the number on your front door. you don't hide that or complain when people use it. say a stranger comes into your street looking for number 12 first thing he'll do is look at the first house to see what number he is upto, say number 2 then the next house 4 then the next 6 and so on until he gets to number 12 now when he arrives at 12 there is a sign saying I'm over at number 4. the stranger has already cached the location of number 4 and can go straight there.. This is the point where you go 'OMG he's cached it! Arrest him'

      A MAC address is just that an ADDRESS, there really is nothing wrong with that being mapped.

      If a state were so inclined they could impose a MAC to every property to use as a network connection address and also as part of the physical address and insist it is used on all correspondence, just like a postcode or zip code. In fact that could be a good idea!

  14. Robert E A Harvey

    ...Now try it

    ... on some football fans & a few shots of goals, or on Me & a test match (can you stay in a scanner for 5 days?) or or or

    I bet its universal.

    Mmmm, Stilton cheese - quick check my brainwaves!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They became what they beheld

    Their idols are aluminum and bold,

    The work of men's hands.

    They have loud speakers, but they speak not;

    iSights they have, but they see not;

    They have Earphones, but they hear not;

    Gyros have they, but they smell not;

    They have Multi-Touch, but they handle not;

    Rubber feet have they, but they walk not;

    Neither speak they through their vents.

    They that make them shall be like unto them;

    Yea, every one that trusteth in them.

  16. JaitcH

    Follow the crowd phenomena are not new ...

    as it is common in Lemming behaviour.

    Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada was earlier known as Pile of Bones. Before the West was settled the First Nation Indians used to drive buffalo over low cliffs to kill them - the easy way.

    The first few buffalo to the edge were hard to get over the edge but followers, seeing the first buffalo head over, simply followed.

    Similarly, a few few early adopters entice the rest of the Jobsian supplicants to follow them. Just like sheep.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Where is the crowd?

      November 2010 worldwide market share [1]

      Mac: 5%

      Windows: 91.09%

      Now, you were talking about sheep?


      1. An ominous cow herd

        Wealthy sheep...

        The post is required, and must contain letters.

      2. Paul Vail

        glacially, it continues...

        Windows is down to under 89%, Apple Mac+iOS up above 7%.

  17. nyelvmark


    Excellent, Cade. Keep it up.

  18. jai

    i suspect the research is backwards

    all this proves is that someone who is a fan of something, and probably thinks about it much more than normal, recognises and appreciates the image of the thing they like

    for relgious types, it's their imagry and icons. for mac fanatics, it's the shiny shiny boxes and dock icons.

    for soccer fans it's the sight of 11 men getting sweaty together and for world of warcraft players it's a can of mountain dew

  19. James Hughes 1


    If I want to feel tingly (all over, rather than just in the brain department), I watch porn. It's much cheaper than Apple kit. All you need is a net connection and a box of tissues.

  20. E 2



    "... Well designed and engineered stuff just looks right compared to imitiations. ie Concord vs Concordski. Irony is that the cheaper imitiation often survives longer as so often better optimised (sic) for markets real requirement. Usually that means cheaper and less efficient ;-< ..."

    Thus my Linux systems which work perfectly well but which are housed in plain black cases are imitations, cheap and inefficient?

    Apple makes beautiful cases certainly but the hardware inside is bog standard Intel platform, the OS is UNIX and the Finder makes it difficult to move files around compared to Windows Explorer or KDE Konqueror.

    You conclude that good case design makes a better computer? Will my machines work better if I move them into top shelf Lian Li cases?

    1. ThomH

      @E 2

      Technically he's making that allegation only if you think the Linux box is a cheap imitation of an Apple box. And I don't even agree with him that markets prefer things that are cheaper and less efficient; generally they prefer cheaper and more efficient.

      I'm of the opinion that desktop computers long ago became pretty generic, though I tend to buy Macs still because they have a small physical footprint, a tiny electrical footprint, operate silently and usually last a decent amount of time. I'm also quite familiar with the software stack. However, I accept that I'm putting myself into a straightjacket in terms of customisation and I'm not under the illusion that I couldn't get better benchmark results for less money, or that because I like the OS it must be objectively better.

      The best computer is the one you like the most, and the competition is what keeps all the vendors on their toes.

  21. Doug Glass

    provokes religious euphoria

    Recent research shows the same effect when men stare at breasts. Conclusion: Jobs is a real boob.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Your research is wrong

      You're confusing things, brain is not what you have inside your pants.

  22. E 2


    "...logic and mathematics (both neurobiologically determined precepts)..."

    Incorrect. As determined by empirical studies.

    You have no apples. I give you an apple. I give you another apple. You do not give away the apples I gave you. Do you now have more or fewer than two apples?

    Try it. Repeat as many times as you wish to. You will always have two apples.

    1 + 1 = 2. Your 'brain' has nothing to do with it.

    1. Tom 38

      <3 apples

      "You have no apples. I give you an apple. I give you another apple. You do not give away the apples I gave you. Do you now have more or fewer than two apples?"

      Fewer. I ate one of the apples.

    2. Citizen401

      Mathematical axioms

      You do know what an axiom is, right?

      If you want to really give me data to prove that the mathematical axioms aren't axioms, then you're not going about it the right way. :)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a thought...

    It's showing brain activity, right? What's to stop it just showing the brain activity associated with, say, recognition of something very familiar to you?

  24. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Now you know why the wetness sensor exists..

    God knows what users do with this religious fervour.. :-)

  25. Shonko Kid
    Jobs Horns

    FSM will now smite Jobs

    May His Noodly Appendage now come crashing down on Apple for being a false idol.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns

      I was wondering...

      ...what became of the serpent who offerered up the apple in the first place?

      That'll do for me!

  26. Jacqui

    can I just say

    its not as bad as renault TV - a sattelite channel devoted to a single make of hot hatches and family "RotM" saloons.

    The 18-24's watch it...

  27. Paul Vail

    perpetuation of foolish notions?

    Why did the researchers assume the areas of the brain titillated about this originally developed for religion? Or was that the journalist and his poetic license?

    Those areas of the brain originally lit up at the site of an attractive member of the opposite sex in the flesh, or slower moving prey, or ripe berries on the vine. Just because some punter dusts his broom while fantasizing about invisible friends, then expands his fantasies to inanimate objects for his misplaced love doesn't make that section of the brain 'for religion'.

    Those areas were far more functional for mating and munchies -- diety dalliances came (sic) much later.

  28. John Deeb


    The conclusions drawn from the brain study could easily be interpreted the other way around: religious euphoria as measured in brain scans in the past were nothing but idolatry or some form of ordinary consumerism. In other words: much of religion might have been always a form of consumerism and as such we're still living in very religious times!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Does that mean come 22nd May, Apple won't have any customers left on the mortal coil?

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