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A New Phrenology?

Metaphors, modules and brain-scan pseudoscience
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The atom is like a solar system, with electrons whirling around the nucleus like planets orbiting a star. No, actually, it isn’t. But as a first approximation to help us visualize something that is so invisible, that image works as a metaphor. (continue reading…)

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Adam’s Maxim & Spinoza’s Conjecture

Belief, disbelief and uncertainty generate
different neural pathways in the brain
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During an early episode of the über-pyrotechnic television series MythBusters, Adam Savage was busted by the camera crew for misremembering his predictions of the probability of an axle being ripped out of a car, à la American Graffiti. When confronted with the unmistakable video evidence of his error, Adam sardonically rejoined: “I reject your reality and substitute my own.” (continue reading…)

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The Political Brain

A recent brain-imaging study shows that our political predilections are a product of unconscious confirmation bias
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The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion … draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises … in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate.

—Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, 1620

Pace Will Rogers, I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a libertarian. As a fiscal conservative and social liberal, I have found at least something to like about each Republican or Democrat I have met. (continue reading…)

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