Home » Intelligent Design » Neuroscience: “Social neuroscience” is down for the count

Neuroscience: “Social neuroscience” is down for the count

This just in from the British Psychological Society Research Digest Blog:

The brain imaging community is about to experience another shockwave, just days after the online leak of a paper that challenged many of the brain-behaviour correlations reported in respected social neuroscience journals.

Social neuroscience (which I take to be a classic example of false knowledge) depends in large part on measured changes in blood flow. However,

The interpretation of human brain imaging experiments is founded on the idea that changes in blood flow reflect parallel changes in neuronal activity. This important new study shows that blood flow changes can be anticipatory and completely unconnected to any localised neuronal activity. It’s up to future research to find out which brain areas and cognitive mechanisms are controlling this anticipatory blood flow. As the researchers said, their finding points to a “novel anticipatory brain mechanism.”

Writing a commentary on this paper in the same journal issue, David Leopold at the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, said the findings were “sure to raise eyebrows among the human fMRI research community.”

If anyone went to jail over “social neuroscience” findings, I hope they get released really soon, and sue the government. Whatever happened to science that was cautious?

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

Also just up at The Mindful Hack:

Call for papers on the scientific study of consciousness

A Beautiful Mind: When the mind restores order to the brain?

Religion: When bad things are done by (supposedly) good people …

Neuroscience: Memory loss is reversible with training

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17 Responses to Neuroscience: “Social neuroscience” is down for the count

  1. My apologies Denyse:

    Happy Birthday Bill Russell!

  2. I wonder what, if anything, the National Institute of Mental Health can do for Joaquin Phoenix.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....s-out.html

  3. And what about M. Beauregrd’s fMRI studies?

  4. Way Off Topic:

    Is there some ID counterpart to the Talk Origins and Talk Reason pages? Those two sites have many articles that at least appear to make some very strong arguments, and I’d really like to see some ID responses to some of the articles appearing there. I’m aware of Design Inference, but are there other sites?

  5. http://www.trueorigin.org/

    “The TrueOrigin Archive comprises an intellectually honest response to what in fairness can only be described as evolutionism—the doctrine of strict philosophical naturalism as a necessary presupposition in matters of science history (i.e., origins). This doctrine is abundantly evident in much material advocating the Neo-Darwinian macro-evolution origins model, including—but not limited to—the “Talk.Origins” newsgroup and the “Talk.Origins Archive” website.”

  6. So what do these new findings really mean? Anyone in the know (Denise?) willing to explain?

  7. Someone should advise Steven Novella of his upcoming troubles and that he’s gonna need to apologize to Michael Egnor!

  8. KRiS

    Talk Origins for the most part defends common ancestry and an old earth. ID, the science of design detection, offers neither support nor refute for these.

    Specific TO articles which dispute ID (not a strawman version of ID) they have probably been addressed in various places but I don’t know of a single site which focuses specifically on TO.

  9. KRiS

    You might be interested in reading the article below which compares and contrasts Intelligent Design with Yound Earth Creationism from the YEC point of view. Talk Origins is mainly about disputing YEC claims but because the ID movement has many prominent YECs in it ID and YEC get falsely equated by the chance & necessity pundits. It’s difficult to argue against design but it’s easy to argue for an old earth and common ancestry. So they go for the low hanging fruit and pretend it’s an argument against intelligent design. The false equality between ID and YEC is very successful due to the sheer number of chance worshippers who propagate it at every opportunity.

  10. Oops – forgot the article link:

    CMI’s views on the Intelligent Design Movement

  11. Denyse here: What the findings mean is that much of the false knowledge propagated by “social neuroscience” is just that – false knowledge. The things we know that just ain’t so.

    Why it matters: Public policy based on false knowledge is usually disastrous.

    Whether the false knowledge is: You can discover what people are really thinking by

    1. shrinking them on a couch

    2. hypnotizing them and recording what they recall in response to leading questions

    3. feeding them surefire truth drugs

    4. measuring blood flow to the brain

    … it’s false knowledge all the same.

    Because of the complexity of the mind and the brain, and their boggling interactions, it is not possible to be absolutely sure what any individual is thinking.

    (Averaging results won’t do you any good either, because averaging the brain blood results from 49 pious old ladies who would never commit a murder and 51 jealous young men who definitely would commit a murder under certain circumstances yields … what? “Proof” that people will commmit murder under certain circumstances? This is science?)

    Friends, read a serious play like Hamlet, and you will see what I mean.

    Generations of theatre goers have wondered: Whatever WAS Hamlet thinking? His problem was pretty obvious: The uncle who killed his father would kill him too, and his mom had thrown in her lot with the uncle. His response was anything but obvious, which is why the play is a tragedy.

    How all this relates to the intelligent design controversy:

    This particular brand of false knowledge is based on the assumption that the human mind is an illusion, which is not an assumption that an intelligent design thesis about the universe would support.

    So I don’t mind seeing these “social neuroscience” people wading through a wallop of mud.

  12. Thanks for the heads up on TO. It’s been quite awhile since I’d looked there, and I’d forgotten exactly what the focus of the site was. I’ve recently been spending more time going between Dembski’s books, Talk Reason, and various blogs.

    Talk Reason has a couple of sections devoted to ID (Critique of Intelligent Design and The Art of ID Stuntmen) The Critique of Intelligent Design has what seem to be some especially strong arguments against ID. Does anyone know where I can find any articles answering these critiques, even if they’re not centralized in the same way as Talk Reason?

  13. KRiS

    Hi! What you may probablly are looking for is:

    http://creationwiki.org/Index_.....ist_Claims

    These are responses to some of the Creationist claims responded to by Evolutionists. You should also check out the whole site.

    And also, check out this one.

    http://www.trueorigin.org/

  14. I would agree with KRiS that it would be nice if there was some monolithic site devoted to ID views and responses to common objections. Though my guess is that ID is diversifying enough that it’s difficult for one site to cover all the bases.

  15. Will this have any bearing on Beauregard’s research?

  16. It seems like a bizarre contradiction to me but you seem to be saying that if the mind is the product of real (observable and measurable) processes then it is an illusion, but if it is caused by unreal (unobservable and unmeasurable) processes then it is real?

  17. Whether the false knowledge is: You can discover what people are really thinking by

    1. shrinking them on a couch

    2. hypnotizing them and recording what they recall in response to leading questions

    3. feeding them surefire truth drugs

    4. measuring blood flow to the brain

    … it’s false knowledge all the same.

    Because of the complexity of the mind and the brain, and their boggling interactions, it is not possible to be absolutely sure what any individual is thinking.

    Isn’t that in conflict with what you’ve stated earlier?:

    Beauregard uses the most sophisticated technology to peer inside the brains of Carmelite nuns during a profound spiritual state.

    From Beauregard’s paper:

    The main goal of this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study was to identify the neural correlates of a mystical experience.

    So Beauregard used a method that you dismiss when it comes to social neurosciences. Seemingly, you also neglect statistics

    Averaging results won’t do you any good either

    But why did Beauregard then look into the brains of several individuals:

    The brain activity of Carmelite nuns was measured while they were subjectively in a state of union with God.

    Seeing statistics statistics at UD is quite surprising because at other occasions ID proponents would trumpet that statistics would contradict evolution theory.
    Also, citing David Leopold is fine

    “sure to raise eyebrows among the human fMRI research community.”

    but you can not have it both ways. Thus; what do you think remains of Beauregard’s paper if you think that fmri studies are not valid. And, btw, what remains of your conclusions about body, mind and soul?

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