13 September 2012

Are you a Neuro-huckster?

If you are not sure, then please read Steven Poole and compare his analysis with your own articles, essays, and books. Please be ready to pass an oral exam. The rest of us will want to know that you are a.) socially responsible, b.) aware why your work could be construed as irresponsible and dangerous, and c.) not trading banalities on neuroscience because it seems a "hip" thing to do.
In this light, one might humbly venture a preliminary diagnosis of the pop brain hacks’ chronic intellectual error. It is that they misleadingly assume we always know how to interpret such “hidden” information, and that it is always more reliably meaningful than what lies in plain view. The hucksters of neuroscientism are the conspiracy theorists of the human animal, the 9/11 Truthers of the life of the mind.
 
Please also be aware that there are critics out there. One of the people who commented on Poole's rant has provided you with a constructive list of people who disagree with your work. It might behove your argument to at least admit that these critics exist.
Raymond Tallis has discussed this topic in several books, including his latest, Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity (2011). But see too M.R. Bennett and P.M.S. Hacker, Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (2003), Maxwell Bennett, Daniel Dennett, Peter Hacker, John Searle, and Daniel Robinson, Neuroscience and Philosophy: Brain, Mind and Language (2007) (Bennett and Hacker v. Dennett and Searle, with Robinson moderating, although he's closer to the former than the latter), Steven Horst, Beyond Reduction: Philosophy of Mind and Post-Reductionist Philosophy of Science (2007), several books by Daniel D. Hutto, several articles by Michael S. Pardo and Dennis Patterson (available online at SSRN) , Daniel N. Robinson's Consciousness and Mental Life (2008).

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