In “Visions for all” (SN: 4/7/12, p. 22),
researchers found that functioning
people who “hallucinated” God were
high on the “absorption” scale and that
4 percent of people studied reported
This reminded me that 4 percent of
the population is grade V hypnotizable.
All of these superhypnotizable people
rate very high on absorption. [As a psy-chiatrist,] I had patients like this who
had been severely abused as children.
These are the ones who developed multiple personalities, or dissociative identity disorder. These patients often had
visions of helpful spirits. Since none of
your sources seemed to recognize that
dissociation in healthy grade V hypnotizable people can show this kind of
picture, I thought I would bring it to
Ralph B. Allison, Paso Robles, Calif.
If I didn’t know better, I would say
this article, though interesting, seems
to have as its goal to reduce God to a
hallucination at best and psychosis at
worst. There are crucial differences
between hallucinations (at least in my
experience) and God speaking: Hal-
lucinations occur in times of mental
stress, drugs or illness that affect the
mind; hallucinations are bizarre, other-
worldly auditory and visual sensations;
hallucinations do not make moral judg-
ments or render valid insights.
Kenneth V. Hoffman, South Kingstown, R.I.
Neandertal DNA still a mystery
“Icy isolation may have led to new
human species” (SN: 4/7/12, p. 5) was
the best and most concise article about
human ancestry that I have ever read.
Yet, by focusing on “cold-climate refuges,” it neglects one area: the human
groups that never left Africa. The only
information I have seen is that the
modern ancestors of these folks have
no trace of Neandertal or Denisovan
DNA in their genomes. What do we
know about the evolution of humans
that remained in warm climates?
Gene Phillip, Great Falls, Va.
Geographical variation among populations today in amounts and types of
Neandertal DNA is poorly understood.
But look for research on this topic to
heat up. — Bruce Bower
A question of magnetism
“Sleeplessness agitates the brain”
(SN: 4/7/12, p. 16) says, “To look for
signs of altered brain function, the
team delivered a jolt of magnetic cur-
rent to the participants’ skulls that
kicked off an electrical response in
the nerve cells.” I believe the phrase
“jolt of magnetic current” is not
accurate. The experimenters used
transcranial magnetic stimulation,
or TMS, which functions by applying
to the skull a rapidly changing mag-
Robert P. Yassanye, Sarasota, Fla.
The reader is correct. — Laura Sanders
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