The Cosmos Inside Your Head: Neuroscientist David Eagleman Tells The Story Of The Brain On PBS
Like many forty-something scientists working in labs today, Dr. David Eagleman remembers watching Carl Sagan on television as a kid and feeling his imagination expand. Each week on Cosmos (1980), Sagan provided context for our place in the universe, giving the unfathomably enormous cosmos a door of accessibility. For Eagleman, walking through that door was the beginning of a lifelong project to do for the brain what Sagan did for the universe.
Book coming as well. The universe is in Sagan’s debt, presumably.
Some who watch will struggle with an inescapable conclusion: the “you” at the center of your personal universe is inseparable from the wetware in your head. There’s nothing in the “world out there” that comes to us without interpretation by the brain. And the level of complexity involved in interpreting what we think of as the simplest matters, like distinguishing between colors and estimating distances, is difficult to grasp. In some cases, as Eagleman shows, what’s in our head constitutes more of “reality” than what exists outside us.
Lots of people would like that to be true, so he won’t lack for an audience.
“We’re studying sensory expansion, the integration of technology with the brain,” explains Eagleman, “and we’re much farther along than most people realize. Finally we are at a point where we don’t have to wait for Mother Nature. We can now define our trajectory for the future.” More.
Advice: Chill, and wait for the old bird to catch up. 😉
Here’s the series.
Also, Eagleman faces off against Raymond Tallis, who tells him,
… we are not stand-alone brains. We are part of community of minds, a human world, that is remote in many respects from what can be observed in brains. Even if that community ultimately originated from brains, this was the work of trillions of brains over hundreds of thousands of years: individual, present-day brains are merely the entrance ticket to the drama of social life, not the drama itself.
For more from Eagleman, see also: Is the brain a pasta maker or a radio receiver for thoughts?
Baylor College of Medicine “rock star” neuroscientist David Eagleman knows evolutionary psychology is true. Raises a question: Yes, if the world inside one’s brain constitutes more of reality than what is outside us, just about anything can be “true,” including the caveman tales of evolutionary psychology and the exploded theories of much social science.
So how to keep science from getting lost in the neuronal buzz … or does it matter anyway?
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Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose