Recently, I noted—in a pattern that is now becoming familiar: Cautious re-evaluations of the usual tales of materialist neuroscience. See, for example, New Scientist offers a biological basis for free will.
It seems even David Brooks, author of a dreadful “evolutionary” novel, The Social Animal, is getting in on the act:
At the lowbrow level, there are the conference circuit neuro-mappers. These are people who take pretty brain-scan images and claim they can use them to predict what product somebody will buy, what party they will vote for, whether they are lying or not or whether a criminal should be held responsible for his crime.
At the highbrow end, there are scholars and theorists that some have called the “nothing buttists.” Human beings are nothing but neurons, they assert. Once we understand the brain well enough, we will be able to understand behavior.
Quite a switch for someone who used to extol the eagerness of young neuroscientists to replace traditional categories of human thinking with new ones which will “replace misleading categories like ‘emotion’ and ‘reason.’” with brain-based ones.
Figure of fun Jerry Coyne is not happy with Brooks at all, though he agrees with me that The Social Animal is a dreadful book:
In the last paragraph Brooks makes his big mistake: he equates the difficulty of studying the brain with the conclusion that “the brain is not the mind.” This confusion plagues the rest of his piece.
So neurocrackpot-ology is taking the same sort of hits as multiverse crackpot-ology?
Maybe there is a hunger out there for genuine science?
Note also a recent article in Nature, Rise of the neurocrats: “Sandra Aamodt evaluates a cautionary account of how brain-scan results could be used and abused.”