Home » Intelligent Design, Mind, Neuroscience » Lose that scarlet letter, will you? When researchers rip off, who is to blame a wunderkind science writer?

Lose that scarlet letter, will you? When researchers rip off, who is to blame a wunderkind science writer?

 We’ve written recently about materialist science writer Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine, resigning after making up Dylan quotes.  (There were also issues around plagiarism, and there had been early warning signs ).

One honest neuroscientist pointed out the truth: Neuroscience itself is a mess.

Imagine: People take seriously a materialist attempt to understand an obviously non-material function like consciousness. What’s not to go wrong? Next, we’ll have a materialist explanation for pi or the square root of minus one …  Boy, will we make progress …

Seriously, one earnest fellow accuses Lehrer of turning his back on science, and “a betrayal of the fundamentally pure enterprise that is science.”

Aw come off it! Do we have to rehearse the Marc Hauser and Diedrik Stapel scandals again? Or point out that many of their peers have similar problems, though maybe not quite at the same level? (Where their own terrified grad students hang them out to dry … )?

To make sense of this situation, we must begin by all owning the whole problem. And that is why Stanton Peele’s “What’s Really Wrong with Jonah Lehrer — and Us” (Huffington Post, 08/02/2012) is a breath of fresh air:

Lehrer’s regular appearance in these iconic publications speaks to a larger issue — our desperation to make common sense out of neuroscientific discoveries, which many feel hold out the keys to our happiness and well being. And that is Lehrer’s worst sin — his simplistic, almost ludicrous, efforts (given the name “reductionism” in philosophy of science) to boil down the workings of the artistic mind to biological platelets. This can’t be done, as reviewers of Mr. Lehrer’s work pointed out well before his duplicity was uncovered. That Lehrer’s preposterous reductive effort was so widely welcomed by the public and leading publications is what we most need to be concerned about.

In other words, the lack of intellectual integrity in Lehrer’s work has been obvious all along. Only our cultural institutions welcomed it nonetheless because it fulfilled our need for bite-sized intellectual products.

Okay, so we wanted a simple, materialist explanation for our minds, and Jonah manufactured it for us, and we bought it, and then the whole idea collapsed in fantasy, fiction, and fraud. So let’s all wear the scarlet letter, or else LOSE it somewhere.

In other words, if we believed him, we all betrayed science. He is not our problem. We are.

See also: Materialist neuroscientist admits that his stance is a “leap of faith” Wow. Honest.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allan at Brains on Purpose

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2 Responses to Lose that scarlet letter, will you? When researchers rip off, who is to blame a wunderkind science writer?

  1. News,

    “Next, we’ll have a materialist explanation for pi or the square root of minus one … ”

    pi simply comparing circle diameter to same circle circumference, ni más ni menos. if in geometry euclidean, is one value. if in geometry not euclidean, value change.

    sergio

  2. Strangely, sergiomendes, there are people out there who would need a materialist explanation for what is simply an immaterial concept. It doesn’t matter if they are not taken seriously. It does if they are.

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