… to prove that we and they are all “a bunch of chemicals reactions running around in a bag,*” and, oh, find treatments for mental illness.
At Science News: The Magazine of the Society for Science & the Public , Laura Sanders protests that
Despite the adage, there actually is such a thing as bad publicity, a fact that brain scientists have lately discovered. A couple of high-profile opinion pieces in the New York Times have questioned the usefulness of neuroscience, claiming, as columnist David Brooks did in June, that studying brain activity will never reveal the mind. Or that neuroscience is a pesky distraction from solving real social problems, as scholar Benjamin Fong wrote on August 11.
It’s worth adding to her tearful account of the wrongs done to materialist neuroscience the fact that David Brooks is actually the author of an “evolutionary psychology” novel, one of the more awful ever written. And if he says that even he can’t make the Darwin’s Crackpot fly, maybe no one can. We talked about Fong’s measured dissent here.
As I noted earlier in a post on a new theory of consciousness, some theories fail simply due to their brick load of materialism. Authors of such theories typically don’t understand the very nature of what needs explaining. They are still hunting for that special brick that explains everything. Indeed, most theories of consciousness fall into that category; they are looking for an objective explanation of subjectivity the way people once sought the means to square a circle.
Tellingly, Sanders writes,
To stop trying just because some studies fall short of perfection is like forever cancelling your New York Times subscription because a few columns missed their mark. Accept that there will be some flops, yes, but those setbacks don’t mean the enterprise is useless.
Ah, but some setbacks do mean that the enterprise is useless! All big dailies are in dire straits, online or otherwise, principally because the nature of their flops has told readers that they need to look elsewhere for real news. (See, for example, Media smackdown)
Readers didn’t “stop trying,” they just looked elsewhere for news. Next time we hear nonsense from neuroscience, we’ll do the exact same thing.
*“Is God in Our Genes?”by Jeffrey Kluger, Jeff Chu, Broward Liston, Maggie Sieger, and Daniel Williams (Time, October 25, 2004.) The article’s teaser reads “A provocative study asks whether religion is a product of evolution. Inside a quest for the roots of faith”.
Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose