I’m watching this video of Ben Carson’s recent speech, and I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I know everyone is aghast at his trivializing of the slave trade, and that’s the more important example of negligent ignorance to focus on, but good grief, I was trained as a neuroscientist, and his remarks about the brain are appalling.
It remembers everything you’ve ever seen. Everything you’ve ever heard. I could take the oldest person here, make a hole right here on the side of the head, and put some depth electrodes into their hippocampus and stimulate, and they would be able to recite back to you verbatim a book they read 60 years ago. It’s all there; it doesn’t go away. You just have to learn how to recall it. But that’s what your brain is capable of. It can process more than 2 million bits of information per second. You can’t overload it. Have you ever heard people say, “Don’t do all that, you’ll overload your brain.” You can’t overload the human brain. If you learned one new fact every second, it would take you more than 3 million years to challenge the capacity of your brain.
None of that is true! Not one bit of it! I can’t imagine anyone who learned the slightest bit of neurobiology in the 20th century believing any of that. The brain throws away most of its sensory input. We don’t know what the “storage capacity” (and it’s fundamentally wrong to think of it that way, as if it’s a flash drive) of the brain is, and we don’t know the storage requirement of a “fact”, so that’s just a bullshit estimation.
Do you even need to know anything to be a brain surgeon? Somebody wack him upside the head with a copy of Kandel and tell him to start reading this stuff he pretends to know.
Apparently, he’s been reciting this pseudoscientific claptrap for years, in his books and speeches before religious groups, but we all know that anybody who read or listened to that stuff wasn’t competent to criticize his bad science.