Sunday, October 16, 2011

Don’t blame the neuroscientists for this one

The Duke University English Department has a lot to answer for, having been instrumental in the deconstructionist desecration of academia.  The latest object to plop out of that orifice  is reviewed in this morning’s New York Times
In the print edition, the review is titled “Think Again”, the sort of punchy double-entendre I have always favored as titles for my mystery stories.  Online, it is blanded down to “Is the Brain Good at What it Does?”   Which is rather like asking whether the pancreas is good at what it does.   -- As for the title of the object under review, that need not detain us.  The author is an academic honcho named Davidson.

True to her dreadful postmodernist heritage,

A general aversion to standards runs through Davidson’s thinking.  “’Better’ and ‘worse’ don’t make a lot of sense to me…”

In line with this,

Davidson starts with the mistaken assertion that I.Q. refers to a purely innate cognitive ability, and then says that the “inherited component to I.Q.” is not genetic but “inherited cultural privilege”.  Both claims are contradicted by virtually every relevant study ever conducted.

We observe, though, that it is a pleasant cultural privilege of tenure, to be able to perpetrate such tripe and get paid for it.

So -- why even notice this thing, in the context of our ongoing polemic about neuroscience?  The reviewer notes:

Davidson’s book is subtitled “How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn,” but there is almost no brain science in the book at all, and attention is invoked mainly as metaphor.   … It’s a shame Davidson decided to wrap her ideas in neurobabble…

So -- no foul for neuroscience this time.  Only notice:  Neurobabble sells.

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