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Pop neuroscience writer Jonah Lehrer “insolently unoriginal”

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A Book About Love Readers may remember Lehrer from a 2012 uproar around his making up Dylan quotes, The truth losing its facts

From a review of Jonah Lehrer’s new Book about Love by Jennifer Senior at New York Times:

In retrospect — and I am hardly the first person to point this out — the vote to excommunicate Mr. Lehrer was as much about the product he was peddling as the professional transgressions he was committing. It was a referendum on a certain genre of canned, cocktail-party social science, one that traffics in bespoke platitudes for the middlebrow and rehearses the same studies without saying something new.

Apparently, he’s learned nothing. This book is a series of duckpin arguments, just waiting to be knocked down. Perhaps the flimsiest: that Shakespeare’s famous star-crossed teenagers have come to define our understanding of love.

“But this description of love — the Romeo and Juliet version — is woefully incomplete,” he writes in the introduction. Love is not just lust, madness, or a great tidal flow of dopamine, he is quick to tell us. “Love is a process, not a switch.”

Fine. But is there really any evolved adult who believes otherwise? More.

On feels sorry for Lehrer here.

To the extent that the cocktail set is probably almost all naturalist atheists now, it is hard to know why they care about truth or falsehood. They think their brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth. In Senior’s telling, Lehrer does sound trite but the cocktail set will probably settle for half-truth and untruths  that are more cleverly put.

See also: Neuroscientist Bradley Voytek: Forget Lehrer. Neuroscience’s “own house is in such disarray”

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