The All in the Mind podcast is a "weekly exploration of all things mental - a program about the mind, brain and behaviour, and the endlessly fascinating interactions between them. From dreaming to depression, memory to imagination, psychotherapy to psychopathy, emotion to obsession , All in the Mind explores the human condition through the mindís eye.
While many aspects of our minds remain seductively mysterious, new light is being shed on the way we think and the way we relate to each other all the time. All in the Mind brings together a diverse range of ideas and human experiences through the voices of great thinkers and powerful personal stories." (From their "About" page).
I've been listening to this podcast for a few years. It has some of the extremely fascinating interviews with leading neuroscientists. Here's one I just listened to today:
All in the Mind 10th Anniversary Special 7: The Marco Polo of Neuroscience - V.S Ramachandran
And they have transcripts to make it easy for us to quote and discuss. For example, this podcast made a point that I want to share:
Natasha Mitchell: [H]e charts what is really the extraordinary momentum that the brain sciences have gathered over the last 20 years. But look he's worried too, because he has a sense that neuroscience is trying to create a theory of everything, that it simply isn't qualified to offer. He's worried about reductionist explanations of human nature. Do you share his concern?
Ramachandran: There are two problems which are sometimes confounded. One is if you reduce everything to neurons, like falling in love, or ambition, or pride, or joy, or the self - my God does that mean there's no love? And that's a fallacy because you know explaining something doesn't mean you explain it away. So for example - supposing two people are making love and a crazy scientist comes along and says "look, this is just neurons in the septum and neurons in the hypothalamic nuclei, these are all the neurons that are firing away, that's all there is to it". And then the lover turns to his girlfriend and says "you mean that's it, it's just chemicals, it's neurons firing away, you're not really in love?" She could then argue "no, on the contrary this proves it's all real, that I'm not faking it". "Look, look at the pattern of activity, it shows it's real."
Just to emphasise that when you explain something in terms of component parts you enrich your understanding a bit you certainly don't diminish from the experience or detract from the experience. That fear is not justified.
This is what I love about knowledge. Everything is related to everything else. The "reductionist fallacy" is common amongst those who think that we would be "nothing but molecules and neurons" if there were no god.
- Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
- Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?
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