Monday, January 31, 2011

Neuro-nonsense: A guide to spotting examples

At Oscillatory Thoughts, Bradley Voytek cautions against the pop science media’s simplifications of brain activity on subjects like curiosity :
How to be a neuroscientist

Written by Bradley Voytek at 12:54
In this post, I will teach you all how to be proper, skeptical neuroscientists. By the end of this post, not only will you be able to spot "neuro nonsense" statements, but you'll also be able to spot nonsense neuroscience questions.

I implore my journalist friends to take note of what I say in this post.

Much has already been said on the topic of modern neuroimaging masquerading as "new phrenology". A lot of these arguments and conversations are hidden from the lay public, however, so I'm going to expose the dirty neuroscientific underbelly here.

Well, what is it? Is it even remotely likely that one small area of the brain will govern everything from “Why does she act like she knows something I don’t” over to “Why do geese fly in a V”, and as far down as “Why do people vote for Jane Schtickle, whom I can’t stand”?

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose


Body and soul: Their relationship

Here, Benjamin Wiker provides a working definition of the relationship between the body and the soul, by the distressing route of ... vice:
We are, to repeat, a real unity of body and soul. Consequently, what we do with either our body or our soul affects both our body and our soul. We become what we do; we are what we have done. Repeated sinful actions literally reform our body and soul according to the sin, so that the actions come to define our very nature by becoming second nature.

The development of this second nature is called a habit, and since it is destructive, a bad habit, or more compactly, a vice. As the vice becomes more engrained, we increasingly lose our freedom, our power, to act well. The vice then defines our entire being, both body and soul.

To put it in St. Augustine's concise terms, sin is its own punishment.

Thus, a woman who gambles becomes a gambler, a human being entirely defined by a particular kind of self destructive activity that has become her second nature. A man who views internet porn becomes a creature who can do nothing else, who thinks about nothing else, who is entirely defined by this self- and other-destructive activity, body and soul, mind and heart, eyes, fingers, and brain. What they originally chose to do, and what earlier on they could have much more easily chosen not to do, now becomes the master who ruthlessly in-habits them, changing every aspect of their intimate soul-body union.
Hat tip: The Sheepcat


Mindfulness resources

Here, a friend passes on:
I've pulled together some recent resources for mindfulness—most of them published within the last 3 years—in clinical contexts.

The resources below fall into 5 groups:

The Mindful Clinician: Training, Development, Self-Care
Articles on Mindfulness as an Intervention for Psychological and Medical Disorders
Books on Mindfulness in Therapy, Recovery, & Self-Help
Audio Resources for Mindfulness
Mindfulness means acting as if your mind exists.

You are what you eat? Yes but, in the same sense, you are also what you think.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose