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Category Archive: Neuroscience

Feb 03 2013

Another really stupid argument from William Lane Craig

Craig is not one of the clever ones. He’s one of the glib, superficial ones, and he impresses a lot of superficial people. Here’s one of his latest, the Argument for God from Intentionality. God is the best explanation of intentional states of consciousness in the world. Philosophers are puzzled by states of intentionality. Intentionality …

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Jan 25 2013

An important warning regarding your household recreational drug use

I  try not to abuse my soapbox here by proselytizing too often, given that this is a topic on which hordelings have deeply divided points of view. But sometimes a warning is just far too important not to share. I’m not moralizing here. What you do with your own body is between you, your conscience, and …

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Nov 16 2012

Can I see an fMRI from a man jumping over a shark next?

I’m feeling cynical today. I think I’ve read one too many fMRI studies. The latest faddish paper is on what the brains of freestyle rappers look like — they compared the brain activity of people reciting memorized words vs. improvising, and guess what…their brains are doing different things during those functions. What did their brains …

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Nov 09 2012

Learn your neuroanatomy lingo

vampBrainLat

Go study this and master the vocabulary. Everyone is so familiar with our brains with their parietal lobes and sulci and ganglia, but do people ever stop to contemplate the cephalopod brain? Nooooo. And it’s pretty cool. Possibly the most obvious difference is that the nervous system of most invertebrates develops ventrally, rather than dorsally, …

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Oct 09 2012

Newsweek panders to the deluded again

I’ve got to wonder who is responsible for this nonsense, and how it gets past the staff at Newsweek. Every once in a while, they’ve just got to put up a garish cover story touting the reality of Christian doctrine, and invariably, the whole story is garbage. This time around, the claim is proof of …

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Aug 24 2012

What does it even mean to pass the mirror test?

The mirror test is a well known indicator for some degree of self-awareness: surreptitiously mark an animal’s face, show it a mirror, and see if it recognizes that the reflected image is of itself by whether it reaches up to touch or remove the mark. We see that behavior and infer that the animal has …

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Aug 22 2012

Who’s conscious?

A recent meeting of neuroscientists tried to define a set of criteria for that murky phenomenon called “consciousness”. I don’t know how successful they were; they’ve come out with a declaration on consciousness that isn’t exactly crystal clear. It seems to involve the existence of neural circuitry that exhibits specific states that modulate behavior. The …

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Jul 24 2012

A poll on kitty experimentation

There is an extremely common sort of experiment to understand plasticity of the developing brain. These are important experiments to understand an important phenomenon: the brain does not simply unfold ineluctably to produce a fully functional organ, but actually interacts constantly with its environment to build a functioning organ that is matched to the world …

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Jul 14 2012

Pharyngula Podcast #3

We had another fun Google+ Hangout this morning with Esteleth, James Rook, Tommy Leung, and Yankee Cynic, building on a couple of articles I mentioned before. Basically, we talked about the attractiveness of the premises of evolutionary psychology vs. the extravagance of their conclusions, and the unreliability of brains and how we have to work …

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May 01 2012

Oh, boy, now I’ll annoy some more Salonites

Salon has also picked up my Near death, rehashed article, which further abuses Mario Beauregard. Let’s see what New Agers come scuttling out of the woodwork again.

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