Egnor babbles some more

Michael Egnor has replied to my dismissal of his claims that memories can’t be stored in the brain with a curiously titled post, Understanding Memories: Lovely Metaphors Belong in Songs, Not Science. I was a bit confused, at first…I don’t recall using any song lyrics or poetic metaphors in my post on the subject, but then as I read his post, a light dawned. He’s talking about himself.

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False positives matter

Here’s why it’s a good idea for everyone to understand a little basic statistics.

Stacie Chapman’s heart skipped when she answered the phone at home and her doctor — rather than a nurse — was on the line. More worrisome was the doctor’s gentle tone as she asked, “Where are you?”

On that spring day in 2013, Dr. Jayme Sloan had bad news for Chapman, who was nearly three months pregnant. Her unborn child had tested positive for Edwards syndrome, a genetic condition associated with severe birth defects. If her baby — a boy, the screening test had shown — was born alive, he probably would not live long.

Sloan explained that the test — MaterniT21 PLUS — has a 99 percent detection rate. Though Sloan offered additional testing to confirm the result, a distraught Chapman said she wanted to terminate the pregnancy immediately.

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Ready to lose a few brain cells? You won’t need them, apparently

synapse

Michael Egnor, neurosurgeon, has made a bizarre post in which he reveals that he knows nothing about how the brains he cuts up work. Egnor claims that it is impossible for the brain to store memories. Yes, he knows that neural damage can cause loss of memory, that certain delicate areas of the brain, if harmed, can destroy the ability to make new memories, and he waves those awkward facts away to announce that there is simply no way memory or information of any kind can be stored in a meat-organ like a brain. He doesn’t say where memories are kept, then, nor does he account for any of the physiological correlates of memory, nor does he seem to give a damn about any of the neuroscience experiments that have teased apart the underlying molecular mechanism. By pure reason alone, if we can call his argument a product of reason at all, he deduces that the brain could not possibly have any way of storing memories.

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Brandenburg is back

In case you’re curious, JE Brandenburg, the fellow who claims to have evidence of nuclear war between intelligent aliens on Mars, is commenting at length on my article criticizing his silly hypothesis. His arguments so far are 1) he’s a physicist, 2) there are radioactive deposits on Mars, 3) there was once lots of water and oxygen on Mars, 4) the mediocrity principle and the Fermi paradox, therefore…aliens.

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