Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Skeptical Look at Pseudoneuroscience

One of the best books I've read lately is "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)" written by Carol Tavris (along with Elliot Aronson). The subtitle of the book is, "Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts". I was hoping that Carol would be at TAM this year so I would have a chance to tell her how much I enjoyed it, but she was not. Fortunately, the JREF not only puts on a truly AMAZING meeting, they also post videos of all the great talks that take place there. Here's a talk that Carol Tavris gave at TAM 2012, titled "A Skeptical Look at Pseudoneuroscience"(definitely worth a watch):

I just wanted to include quickly a quote by Lenny Bruce that Tavris shared in her great book. The following was said by Bruce after watching the Presidential Debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960:
I would be with a bunch of Kennedy fans watching the debate and their comment would be, “He’s really slaughtering Nixon.” Then we would all go to another apartment, and the Nixon fans would say, “How do you like the shellacking he gave Kennedy?” And then I realized that each group loved their candidate so that a guy would have to be this blatant – he would have to look into the camera and say: “I am a thief, a crook, do you hear me, I am the worst choice you could ever make for the Presidency!” And even then his following would say, “Now there’s an honest man for you. It takes a big guy to admit that. There’s the kind of guy we need for President.”
Pretty great, huh?

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