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Using neuro-gibberish to win any argument

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From The Guardian:

Research has revealed that so-called neurobabble is surprisingly convincing – here’s a quick guide to harnessing its persuasive powers

Among the strategies offered by British neurologist Jules Montague:

Make grand claims about mirror neurons

For example: “Mirror neurons are the basis of human empathy, the entire emergence of human culture, and the shaping of our civilisation.”

What it means: This is absolute codswallop. Mirror neurons, which fire when monkeys do something or see a fellow monkey doing it, have been called “the most hyped concept in neuroscience”. But the research is not yet proven to apply to humans.

If you can shout “Parklife!” at the end of your sentence with the word “hippocampus” “or “fusiform gyrus” somewhere in the middle, there is a chance you’ve mastered neurobabble. More.

Someone should tell John Cook. He can add neurobabble to his “inoculation” scheme. John Who? See: Yet another hack seeks to “inoculate” against “science denial” (Most students will get by but they won’t know the difference between science and establishment propaganda)

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Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

11 Replies to “Using neuro-gibberish to win any argument

  1. 1
    phoodoo says:

    I love it. This is exactly how Lizzie (and a few others) always talks, excepts she excels at making even simpler concepts that anyone can understand convoluted.

    ‘Well, you know, its equiprobable, that the stochastic, probability, is not entirely random, yet can’t be considered as an undetermined system scheme. Chemical processes, when represented by predictable outcomes are neither directed nor undirected in a closed set environment, yet I prefer not to use the word random because of the uncertainty of the variables. I think a genetic algorithim could solve the functionality problem (parklife!) is as much as establishing what can and can not be ascertained using scientific protocols. I see no need to invoke magical entities-as chemical reactions are often contingent! So in answer to your question, Yes I have had dinner. “

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    phoodoo; ROTFL. My sides ache! You’ve captured her perfectly.

  3. 3
    Silver Asiatic says:

    phoodoo — brilliant 🙂

  4. 4
    mike1962 says:

    @1 bwahaha

    Reminds of the gibberish spoken by Damon Wayans in that bit back on the Living Color show early 90s.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJyfozezSpI

  5. 5
    NetResearchGuy says:

    @1: LOL here as well!

    What I sometimes wonder about people who talk like that is if perhaps their mind actually operates that way as well. All the gaps in their knowledge are filled with gibberish oracles which supply a solution on demand. Their mind is convinced that everything these oracles output is a fact, and the oracles are cleverly designed to hide themselves using circular reasoning to deflect a challenge to any one oracle’s output by referring to another such oracle, equally unsupported by fact. It’s exhausting to argue with such logic because after a half dozen regresses or advances around the circle, you end up at your wit’s end.

    According to naturalist metaphysics though, it’s fully possible that EL’s mind is composed of such oracles, if it involves some sort of selective advantage. Naturalism does not assert that minds are capable of reason, merely chemistry.

  6. 6
    phoodoo says:

    I suppose I could have just given one of her actual quotes, its just as wayward (on why mutations are not random, but are biased towards certain ones):

    “In a very well adapted population, there will be more less-good variants thant better-than-this variants. So mutations will be drawn from a distribution with a bias towards “less-good”.

    However, if the environment changes, e.g. a different size of seed becomes the dominant food source, there will now be a larger proportion of possible variants that are better than the current version than before.

    Another way of saying this is that there are more ways of being worse than a goood thing than of being better, but more ways of being better than a bad thing than of being worse.”

    Yes, it is a fine day today isn’t it dear!

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    At first I thought this was a thread about Zachriel.

  8. 8
    phoodoo says:

    To Wit (Lizzie):

    “A statement is neither “simply put” nor “straightforward” if you cannot give clear definitions of your terms.

    And I am bringing into question the concept you imply key term: “objectively true”.

    If it refers to statement, there is a claimant who makes the statement.

    If there is no claimant, then it cannot refer to a statement.

    And so your own statement is not “simply put” – I suggest that it is fundamentally incoherent, and that if you were to unpack the concepts behind your terms, you would also find it to be so.

    Or not. Perhaps you can persuade me of the coherence of your position. But you won’t do that unless you are willing to unpack your terms.

    In fact, you make a good job of describing my own position:

    she described it as a sort of scientific-consensual confirmation towards objective accuracy

    Yes, that’s about it: that we don’t have direct access to Reality (or “Objective Truth” if you prefer), but that we can iteratively propose, test, and hone predictive models that we can regard, always provisionally, as an approximation.

    I don’t think we have access to anything more objective than that.

    I don’t think it “trumps” logic – I think logic is one of the tools we use to propose and test our models. But we also need data for testing.

    So one “mind” – one person’s independent view – is “subjective”. That view becomes validated as “objective” if it can be corroborated by others independently.

    Now there may well be a Reality that we will ultimately model so well that our predictions are within extraordinarily tight tolerances. But that Reality, is not the True/False status of the statement: “The Earth orbits the sun”. That statement is simply a useful model – a heuristic, even. A slightly more complex but more accurate model would be something like “the Earth follows an approximately circular trajectory around the common centre of gravity of sun and earth, which itself follows a more complex twisted path around the centre of our galaxy”

    Both statements are “true” in that they are good predictive models. But both statements are “false” in that they are incomplete. Neither are “objectively true” in the sense you mean, because they are statements made by human observers and modelers. However both are “objectively true” in the way that “the moon is made of green cheese” is not, in that they are corroborated, as reliable approximations, by many lines of independent enquiry pursued by independent obervers……”

    And on and on…You get the point.

  9. 9
    Mung says:

    I just prefer to think of Elizabeth as an extremely gifted person who has problems communicating with us mere mortals.

    Unlike Zachriel.

  10. 10

    Nah. I need to work on articulating that point.

    Sometimes difficult in articulating does mean that there’s a flaw in the point, and that may be the case.

    I don’t think so, but I’ve been wrong before.

  11. 11
    phoodoo says:

    Is it really that difficult to articulate who has this mythical “strong” understanding of evolutionary theory Lizzie?

    Is that person you Lizzie?

    Do the terms need to be defined for even a simple question like this?

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