The seventh cryptomind discussed in “The Mind Club” is The Dead. The stated purpose of this chapter is “”Why—and how—humans perceive the minds of the deceased so vividly is the subject of this chapter.” There is no need for this explanation. One would expect that the explanation of the living mind would be extended to individuals after they died. Even people who do not believe in life after death would likely use expressions based on knowledge of the living individuals mind. The real purpose of this chapter is to lay the groundwork for the final two seriously flawed chapters.
Much of the chapter discusses philosophy and the differences between monist and dualist philosophers. This discussion is irrelevant as psychology and cognitive science are empirical enterprises. The authors note, “Modern psychology generally refutes dualism as the mind can be measured though electoral and magnetic activity and relies heavily on physical brain structures.” Unfortunately this statement ignores the research on how the mind influences the brain. When I was a graduate student I was frustrated by the question of whether the autonomic nervous system could be controlled. Experimental psychologists would run experiments in which psychology students participated in experiments in which attempts were made to control some part of the autonomous nervous system, such as the heart. As these experiments only lasted several hours, it is not surprising that students were unable to do this. These psychologists ignored the Buddhists monks who were able to slow their heart rates to frightingly low rates. Psychologists said ignored this saying that it was done with some trick. True science consisted of using college students in limited experimental studies. Psychologist found that the “trick” involved many hours of meditation. Recent brain imaging studies have illustrated striking effects of meditation on the brain. The title of Sharon Begley’s new book, “Train Your Mind Change Your Brain” reflects the real truth (this book will eventually be reviewed in the healthy memory blog).
It should also be realized that for about half o the twentieth century American experimental psychologists could not speak of thinking. This was not rigorous enough. Finally, in the second half of the century the necessity of using cognitive activity was realized and the cognitive revolution began. Psychologists seem to be self conscious about not being regarded as true scientists and feel a need to stress the rigor of their thinking. Rigor is good, but not when it ignores relevant empirical evidence. And there is more than ample evidence that the mind does act upon the brain. Indeed that is where the future of cognitive psychology lies.
There its another problem that I shall term intellectual arrogance. This was exhibited on the eve of the twentieth century when some physicists had concluded that just about all of physics had been developed, and that all that was need was some work to refine decimal points. In just a few years Einstein formulated his special theory of relativity which revolutionized physics. Ten years later the general theory of relativity further revolutionizing the discipline. Then came quantum mechanics that operated under different rules than Einstein’s physics. The advances in physics both astronomical and sub-atomical have been, to repeat the term, astronomical. Modern Physics is producing theories that would new-ager Shirley Maclaine to shame.
Compared to physics, psychology has taken just a few baby steps. Moreover, I think psychology will prove to be more complicated than physics, so the relative distance that psychology as to go is likely more than astronomical.
So psychologists need to be guarded in their statements. The Healthymemory Blog will try to disabuse some of the ideas advanced in the final two chapters of “The Mind Game.”
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Tags: Autonomic nervous system, Behaviorism, Buddhists, Change Your Brain, cognitive revolution, Einstein, general theory of relativity, intellectual arrogance, Psychology, Special Theory of Relativity, Train Your Mind