Lying, the Left-brain, and the President

As many others and I have written, the real world always wins, in the sense that no matter how much we think we are in control, outcomes result from whatever forces are at work out there. Objects will always fall down, not up, when we drop them. People will behave the way their brains tell them to, no matter how we think they should respond to our commands. Even proven scientific theories don’t work when the circumstances depart from those from which the theory was deduced. Newtonian mechanics do predict the path of a cannonball, but not how electrons in… Read More

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Half-brain-dead Politics

David Brooks had an interesting oped in the NYTimes on August 7 about the state of the Republican party. The sub-headline read: “The party looks brain-dead at every spot Trump touches.” For me, this wording is quite intriguing because I have been re-reading, The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist’s book about the divided brain. His arguments about the different functions of the two brain hemispheres seem to fit the way that the Republican party and especially, Donald Trump, look out at the world and respond to it. Using McGilchrist’s model, I would say that the right-hemisphere of both Trump… Read More

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The Persistence of Memory

I have been looking at a few of my unpublished work going back to the 90’s The task is complicated because many of the files cannot be opened in the original format, but I can recover the text and try to reconstruct the papers. Today’s post is an extract from a working paper written in 1992. It is taken out of context of the whole piece, which was about design and human action, but seems to be pretty self-contained. I can see, even back then, where the impetus for my books and other work since then arose. The main difference… Read More

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More Synchronicity

From time to time, I have posted entries that superpose McGilchrist’s divided brain model on dichotomies that appear in others works. I have pointed to Thomas Kuhn’s two modes of science on several occasions. Today, my focus is on some writing from Humberto Maturana, whose work has been very influential on my thinking. Maturana, a Chilean biologist, with his co-worker, Francisco Varela, developed a theory of cognition (the Santiago theory) that claims to have overcome the Cartesian duality of mind/matter. The theory is too complicated and challenging to be elaborated here, but here is a brief summary from Wikipedia The… Read More

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A Flickering Candle

Poetry seems more appropriate than prose these days. A Flickering Candle Politics has replaced reality; Politicians live in another world. Their talk is the height of banality; The proud banner of truth tightly furled. There is something rotten in the Senate Because its leader demands obeisance. His lackeys need to be given the gate Or, even better, charged with malfeasance. What’s the point of demanding such power When their false promises never come true And all their vile schemes can naught but turn sour. There has to be something that we can do. The people, said the Founders, have the… Read More

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McGilchrist, Meaning, the Divided Brain, and History-making

I came to realize an important error in my writing, that of the sloppy way I have been using the important word, “Meaning.” I have generally used it to apply to the whole of situations that are being attended to primarily by the left brain hemisphere. Meaning can also be applied to individual words in the sense that we know the meaning of an isolated word, such as desk, or run, or over, or fast, or slowly. The conventional use of semantics refers to the essential meaning of individual or groups of words. Merriam Webster dictionary defines semantics as: “the… Read More

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Our Better Angels

A friend put me onto an article by Win McCormack in the New Republic discussing possible connections between group or societal behaviors and human nature. The article is built around a book, titled A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution and Cooperation, by the philosophy, Peter Singer. The gist is about the age-old conflict between two poles of human nature: self-interest and altruism or communitarianism. The article pivots around the idea that both are a part of human nature, based on E. O. Wilson’s theory of (Darwinian) group selection as the inherent on social species. Further, how is this “new” idea going… Read More

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Racism and the Brain: A Long, Complicated Story

  This post continues the thread of thought in the previous one. In that post, I brought up the incident of Amy Cooper siccing the police on a nearby black birder. I wrote: The recently reported case of a white woman, Amy Cooper, calling the police when a black man, birding in Central Park, asked her to tether her dog, as she should already done, provides an excellent example of this cognitive process. Cooper had been working for a company with an outstanding reputation for dealing with diversity and had been given extensive training in co-existing with people of color.… Read More

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Prejudice Starts at Birth

Evolution has endowed humans and many other animals with a brain that is bi-hemispheric. The great mass of neurons are contained in two separate halves. In his book, The Master and his Emissary, British psychiatrist and writer, Iain McGilchrist, argues that each side attends to the outside world in strikingly different ways that reflect their evolution. One half, the right side in humans, gathers information about the immediate world, a function derived from animals’ need to be alert for predators. The other half, the left side in humans, contains information necessary to perform essential tasks like feeding or gathering food.… Read More

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