Home » Intelligent Design, Mind, Neuroscience, News » Another pop science truism hits the, er, pop science truism pile

Another pop science truism hits the, er, pop science truism pile

You’ve heard about the left brain and the right brain, and how differently they think.

A flourishing industry of books, videos and self-help programs has been built on this dichotomy. You can purportedly “diagnose” your brain, “motivate” one or both sides, indulge in “essence therapy” to “restore balance” and much more. Everyone from babies to elders supposedly can benefit. The left brain/right brain difference seems to be a natural law.

Well, it seems,

Except that it isn’t. The popular left/right story has no solid basis in science. The brain doesn’t work one part at a time, but rather as a single interactive system, with all parts contributing in concert, as neuroscientists have long known. The left brain/right brain story may be the mother of all urban legends: It sounds good and seems to make sense—but just isn’t true.

An apparently endless river of neuro-nonsense flows from thinking of the brain as wetware, a sort of machine composed of chains of neurons that operates along the same materialist lines as natural selection. It is more useful to think of the brain as an ocean, with certain defined features—currents, for example, and trenches and seamounts you can name and identify—but most of the rest may be hard to define reductively in principle because it is always changing.

The author’s proposed top-bottom approach probably won’t work out either. One thinks of the recently fashionable claims made for the “reptilian brain,” a supposedly more primitive part of our brain that we share with reptiles, who are not very smart. People who did dumb things were said to be giving in to the reptilian brain.

The problem is, reptiles are actually not that stupid. The reptile’s major difficulty is that it is exothermic, which means that it can’t keep up any activity for long. In the linked story, anoles proved as smart as small birds (tits) at solving problems for a food reward, but they turned out to need vastly less food. Lack of need, rather than lack of brain capacity, may be the key barrier to reptilian learning.

Speaking of learning, forget materialism in general, and learn more.

See also: Language fraud alert: There is nothing “controversial” about materialism (Indeed, it is hard to get people to think about many key topics without employing its false assumptions.)

Hat tip: Philip Cunningham

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

4 Responses to Another pop science truism hits the, er, pop science truism pile

  1. Yeah – that stuff had been debunked 20 years ago. I used to find it really annoying when it was trotted out by my patients, by preachers, by radio hosts – even by health advisors on the equivalent of our local medical board.

    But what can you do? Once something enters the cultural mythology it’s immune to the attacks of facts.

  2. Except that it isn’t. The popular left/right story has no solid basis in science. The brain doesn’t work one part at a time, but rather as a single interactive system, with all parts contributing in concert, as neuroscientists have long known.

    Yes, the brain works as a whole. So does the entire organisms for that matter. From this it does not follow that there are no “left brain/right brain” differences.

  3. Everyone knows that the left hemisphere is the only one that speaks. So this study is not really revealing. But guess what? There is no way you can have a functioning brain with two separate hemispheres controlling two sides of the body unless one hemisphere is the boss and the other is the servant. Are the neuroscientists aware of this? I doubt it. But guess what again? This knowledge has been in the Bible for at least two thousand years. Surprise!

    Hint: Father and Son; Son speaks and does everything the Father tells him to do. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of knowledge about the brain that can be found in the scriptures.

  4. Reptile thinking ain’t much different from what Darwin said about retarded people.
    He said retardation was a regression to a former primate stage and thats also WHY retarded men had more hair.
    They don’t of coarse and as usual dArwins ideas are less thoughtful then superficial.

    Think of all the public confidence in the left/right brain concept!!
    Things like this add to public scepticism of “science” conclusions and leave open room for criticisms of conclusions.
    Say in origin stuff.
    are they going to give back the money?

    There is no evidence the brain has anything to do with thinking people.
    Its just a first blush by people needing to explain thinking but reject the existence of the soul.
    The creator thinks quite well but ain’t got no brain!!
    I’m confident i never used my brain for any thought in my life

Leave a Reply