Friday, 15 July 2016


Part of something bigger

Some weeks ago Norman Perrin blogged that he did not understand 'the math' in a recent account by the organisation Cerebra of why it funds its neuro-coreligionists in Barcelona:

I am often puzzled by those adverts in which somebody in a white coat and a big smile presents statistics, flashes up histograms, to persuade me to buy this or that product. Like most other sensible people, it never occurs to me to take a word of such things seriously. I have long since ceased to be concerned about the substance of what is being said. I am just amazed that the advertising industry finds it worthwhile pumping out such tosh year after year. I fall back on a couple of connected explanations:
  1. there are enough daft, desperate and/or ill-informed people out there for these expensive productions to maintaining or even increase sales
  2. The whole business is a part of wider conspiracy, maintaining a common front that some Emperor (especially advertising itself) does indeed have clothes
Everybody wins? Well, the people involved in selling me something may experience short-term commercial gains. But do the punters benefit beyond any glow, excitement or some other satisfaction from taking part in the commercial process?

The site that Norman refers to, raising money to pay for some of that further research that we hear is always needed, is another advert for somebody's product. It promises long-term effects upon 'neurodevelopment' and 'neurobehaviour' – though it does not say what such phenomena are.

And not very subliminally it is promoting an ideology, one with its own model of the relationship of mind and brain and the essence of human psychic (mental) development, what Jan Macvarrish has called – ideological attempt to discover the essence of humanity in the brain

This is concretised heres in the immediate economic effect of justifying jobs for a particular kind of researchers, whose work is part of a wider whole, in Ben Wilbrink's words – that in essence is not scientific whatsoever, yet parades as scientific in almost all relevant aspects: professorates, promotions, academic institutions, academic journals.

Good luck to them all, one might say. After all it's all work for the working man, and woman. Except that it gets in the way of society's attention to often serious matters, and the serious consideration and changes that they merit.

Conductive Education

Conductive Education deals with serious problems, that certainly merit serious consideration and some serious changes. I have nothing against job-creation, or against intellectual enquiry ('research'), or the two in combination. Conductive Education has offered a door that could have opened a door potentially enormous human advancement. If only they were treated seriously.

I am strongly suspicious of almost any word with the suffix 'neuro-' for so often, as the Melancholy Jacques put it –
It is but an invocation to call fools into the ring

Not every such word. Neuropsychology for example can signify real hard science. Indeed, neuropsychology as originally construed by A. R. Luriya offered Conductive Education firm connection with the workings of the brain in its wider human context, with higher mental functions founded in social-historical experience and based upon extracerebral connections.

Chance missed. So it goes...

I suppose that there is still time to take up that baton. No longer my problem to fret about.

PS To be fair, there's nothing special about the neuro-jobs in this respect. Think of all the pseudo-scientific psychobabblers, the worlds of therapy, education, 'management' etc... a huge, heavy slab of our economy tottering upon marshmallow theoretical foundations.

I no longer feel inclined to fret about these either...

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