Blog Editor


  • Copyright 2005-20012 by Adam Kolber
    All rights reserved.

« Neuroethics of Addiction Conference (Reiner) | Main | Freedom of Speech, Neuroscience, and Media Violence (Blitz) »


It seems like your primary criticism goes to Jeste for the quote that Lite used. In the relevant passage, Lite is simply reporting what Jeste had said. I think you're right that science journalists should avoid oversimplifying for entertainment value. In this case, however, it would be a lot to ask of journalists to "outscience" the scientists about whom they're reporting.

Also, there's no easy answer to the following question: Just how abstract and metaphorical should journalists be when explaining scientific concepts to audiences that do no have much background in a particular area. I know nothing about topology, for example. When math/science journalists write about topology, it is often quite clear to me that they are dramatically oversimplifying. But absent such oversimplifications, it's not clear how much they can say to a general audience.

Not that this was a stellar piece of science journalism, but I do believe that Jeste deserves the bulk of the criticism for his silly sexist analogies.

I also maintain that it is far too convenient and easy to pick on journalists covering neuroscience, even if such criticisms are often legitimate. There is good reason to believe, as this discussion may indicate, that physicians and scientists too play an active role in misconstruing, triumphalizing, and overstating the possible conclusions to be drawn from neuroscience.

For better or worse, I'm not generally surprised when laypersons or the media misinterpets scientific or clinical findings, but think the greater sin is with the professionals, who IMO ought to know better.

Its hard to single out a culpret for "humanizing"/"personifying" brain functions. Its a cultural pastime. A recent read of mine spent inordinate time contorting past the history of the church and pure philosophy (bunk)so as to get a clearing within which to investigate mind. So much baggage!

Add that they (Meeke, Juste)perported to "operationally" characterize or define wisdom, when it is surely a cultural opinion of an observation (perhaps an evaluation of the internal event, played through the bias of culture--would be more exact?), NOT an operationally definable becomes painfully aware that language is non longer an exact anything. Even in "science." Remember we still yap on about "the soul." Not much progress since the darker ages I might argue. Postmodern Science? oh joy!
And the audience requires it ?!

I find the agnostic approach recently undertaken at DARPA to be more scientific, being (as I prefer- Taoist that I am) an investigation of "what" and not of how, WHY and other premature or perhaps even meaningless questions. Name what needs a name, not what those before you wished to be relevant in some religiopollitick.

Just "what" for me! that's plenty to observe.

The comments to this entry are closed.