Monday, October 19, 2009


Edinburgh University was the host venue for the latest invitee, Professor Michael Gazzaniga from California, to the prestigious Gifford series of lectures held at the four ancient Scottish universities. The lecture series has the purported intent of contributing to the advancement of philosophical and theological thought: 'natural theology', whatever in hell that means.

It's remarkable how a formal academic gathering in the imposing high-ceilinged Playfair Library with a couple hundred respectful erudite scholars can affect one's perspicacity - even for someone as avowedly hostile to the orthodox academic model as myself. It was only some time later that the extraordinary shallowness of the enterprise became apparent.

Psychologist Professor Gazzaniga wibbled and wobbled his way through his first two talks (Free: The Science Of Mind Constraining Matter), barely able to read aloud the unbelievably lightweight nonsense typed out in front of him. This was all accompanied by an inconsequentially superficial PowerPoint presentation replete with grade school spelling/punctuation mistakes and the inevitable moments of malfunctioning multimedia. If he wasn't inefficiently employing Dawkins' trademark rhetorical device of the absurdist example to prove highly contentious points, Gazzaniga was tossing around terms such as 'mind' and 'thoughts' and 'consciousness' and 'experience' and 'morality' with such inebriatedly undefined abandon that you wondered how on earth he even managed to gain a degree, let alone a coveted invitation to the Gifford Lectures.

However, it was the brief post-lecture Q&As that really found him out. The audience's questions were mostly insightful and pertinent to the topic, yet when Gazzaniga didn't freeze up completely, he invariably chose to misinterpret their focus through brazenly inaccurate rewording; a tried and trusted mechanism by teachers to avoid having to admit to not having an answer, thus preserving the vanity of their given social status as founts of knowledge.

It enrages you even more to consider the plight and gratuitous suffering of the thousands of research animals at the bloodsoaked hands of 'scientists' like Gazzaniga and company. I won't make this worse by relaying some of the nonsensical experiments alluded to - suffice to say that we humans are apparently so special and so unique because the other animals can't play the fucking piano.


mlb said...

Thanks for your post William, I understand very well what you are saying here. I actually quit my job at a medical science lab about a year ago for these kinds of reasons, I couldn´t deal with disgusting animal experiments and the pompous professors anymore (btw I never touched any animals). The research also felt completely pointless besides as a means for those involved to gain a carreer and prestige.

prince michael PELAO III said...

looks like "the ween is dead"....boy-oh!

Shonx said...

Don't know if this might be of interest, geneticists have found the "language gene" (which actually seems to aid neuroplasticity and assist in making connections between motor and cognitive functions, language probably being an outgrowth of this). This mutation was thought to have come about around 50,000 years ago, coinciding with technological and cultural innovation in humanity and the spread of homo sapien sapiens out of Africa.

Obviously the best way to test this is by injecting it into mice and then checking for signs of speech :-(

Dxs said...

I recently watched all 4 of these lectures on youtube, including about 15 minutes of questions after each lecture.

I agree with you in terms of questioning the use of animals for experimental use. But I find all your other points either basic or incorrect.

Firstly, Gazzaniga is around 70 years of age, his lecturers werent perfectly smooth or energetic but i have seen worse from people one third of his age.

And you are concerned about punctuation and spelling? He is talking about such topics are regional consciousness in the brain and you are worried that he might have a comma wrong?

And your comment "'mind' and 'thoughts' and 'consciousness'" being incorrectly used, i disagree with. In terms of neuropsychology i understood what he meant by all of these terms. If you want to play the whole philosophical game and say what is 'mind' and just debate the definition, that is fine. But in a lecture concerning neuropsychology he used the terms correctly, this guy is definitely no amateur to the mind debate in terms of dualism/monoism etc. Maybe check out some of his old books.

I also think a lot of the questions asked were fairly amateur too, hence he had to decipher them. It is also hard to understand what someone is trying to express when people come from different fields. This might also be relevant to your statement of the incorrect definition of 'mind' etc, because such terms have different meanings depending on field.

And did you even see the rest of the lecturers?

But overall, basically your post was just basic crap, oh he stumbled a bit and his grammar wasnt perfect. Do you even have the intellect or knowledge to debate the core arguments?

Also as somewhat implied by Gazzaniga, there are many altering views on this topic.. This is because he is talking about such topics as determinism, free will, emergence etc etc etc.. Things that there probably will never be an answer to. So all he is doing is just putting up his perspective based on evidence he has collected throughout his life.

From someone who has studied neuropsychology and has an interest in determinism i found the lectures to be extremely interesting and educational. Ofcourse i have a lot of criticism and difference of opinion on many points, but still it was good to get such a complex arguement.

So my suggestion is maybe try to fully understand what he is saying, without having a negative attitude before hand. And then logically argue against the points, instead of being a stupid bigot caring about grammar and such things.