Wednesday, November 18, 2020

We have been wrong about what emotions are - MindBlog is taking a study mini-sabbitical

I have been doing a careful reading of Barrett's book "How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain" - hence the decreased frequency of MindBlog posts. Much of the material in the book references research that MindBlog has dutifully reported, showing that our brains are prediction machines working with statistical probabilities, how what we see is what we expect to see, etc. But MindBlog has been seriously remiss in not pointing out the conflicts with, and continuing to use, concepts and categories that we now know to be flawed, such as the triune brain model, emotional categories and facial expressions that are erroneously claimed to be universal across cultures, etc. When I have finished my reading and abstracting of Barrett's book, I hope to pass on a synopsis of the main points, trying to be cautious about the new constructionist models replacing older essential assumptions about evolutionarily hard wired circuits dedicated to specific emotional categories. I want to be sure I'm not tossing out the baby with the bathwater, as far as our older essentialist explanations are concerned. Anyway, as this post's title indicates, I'm diverting time away from the scanning of journals' tables of contents that I use to find interesting material to post. 

Here is the first installment in the series of posts on Barrett's book.  


  1. I look forward to reading your summary.

  2. There's a interview with Barrett on Sean Carrols's latest Mindscape podcast.

  3. Thanks for persevering at your research -
    your blogging is always appreciated,