Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Non-materialist neuroscience

Here is an discussion on what the authors call the latest installment of the war on science. From their introduction:

Non-materialist neuroscience is the latest front in the war on science. The battle has been a long time coming and it is surprising it has taken so long to get going. Modern neuroscience is rapidly reducing much of human thought, emotion and behavior into component pieces of neuronal interactions. The combination of computational modeling and non-invasive imaging of living brains has allowed researchers to begin describing how complex thought emerges from the firing patterns of neurons. In a way neuroscience is the death knell of dualism. When materialist causes become both necessary and sufficient to explain all of human thought then parsimony dictates that references to a soul or other supernatural entities can be tossed out.

Non-materialist neuroscience is a reaction to these discoveries, a rallying cry for dualism. Like creationism and intelligent design this "new" neuroscience is a reactionary movement against science. Rather than a hypothesis that leads to predictions and experiments, it is simply a catalog of things modern neuroscience supposedly cannot yet explain.

Unsurprisingly, the movement is spear-headed by intelligent design lackeys from the Discovery Institute and related affiliates. The primary proponents of the movement are Michael Egnor, a neurosurgeon and recent contributor to the Discovery Institute blog, Denyse O'Leary a Canadian "journalist" who runs her own blog dedicated to non-materialist neuroscience and likes to copy and paste these entries over on William Dembski's blog as well, and Mario Beauregard the author with O'Leary of a recent book on the subject of non-materialist neuroscience The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul.

3 comments:

John said...

Hello, I'm interested in your thoughts if you think Jeffrey Schwartz in The Mind and The Brain contains actual science rather than non-science.

It seems to me that these people are genuinely attempting to do science.

Do you think that is a possibility?

Deric said...

Schwartz is a first rate scientist, does excellent work, I've been to one of his talks. It seems clear that using cognitive or buddhist psychological techniques can alter behavior and brain pathways. Yes "mind" can change the physical brain. Yet, it is an emergent property of that brain and doesn't exist apart from it. Yes it is an "illusion" (as shown by the many ways in it can be incorrectly generated) but normally it is a very useful one which plays as role in "downward causation", as in the OCD therapy.

D said...

"of that brain and doesn't exist apart from it."-----------------------------------------

I have to say (in all seriousness, and after all the study): How d'you know?...in which lies my real meaning which is: All the words and the noise and nobody can HONESTLY say either way.

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