The Frontal Cortex

Archives for September, 2007

McGinn Does Wittgenstein

Is it bad if your favorite philosophy comes in aphorism form? This is why I’ve always enjoyed Wittgenstein: his writing has the density of plutonium, since it’s just pre-digested quotes. I can read it without having to remember what anomalous monism is. Now Colin McGinn, who’s one of my favorite philosophers of mind, has entered…

Chemistry

Chemistry gets short shrift. Theoretical physics and neuroscience and molecular biology get all the sexy press, while chemistry departments slowly wither away. In many respects, this is just because chemistry has been so successful: there don’t seem to be any great unknowns or theoretical gaps left within the field. It’s not like neuroscience (which can’t…

Tax Deductions and Science

So tax breaks for philanthropy increase inequality: For every three dollars they give away, the federal government typically gives up a dollar or more in tax revenue, because of the charitable tax deduction and by not collecting estate taxes. [snip] The charitable deduction cost the government $40 billion in lost tax revenue last year, according…

Arts Education

One of the innate limitations of every intelligence test is that the test is forced to conflate the measurable aspects of intelligence with a general definition of intelligence. What can’t be quantified is ignored. And what can be easily quantified is privileged. The end result is a woefully distorted view of learning, g, and education.…

Milk and Sleep

My own experience tells me that a glass of warm milk is a potent sedative. All it takes is a few ounces of heated dairy before my eye lids start getting real heavy. It turns out, though, that warm milk is just a placebo. It works because I think it works. According to age-old wisdom,…

Psychotherapy and Feminism

I’m a big fan of Mad Men, the new HBOesque drama about 1960′s advertising executives on AMC. It’s basically an extended melodrama about why the Ike years actually sucked, and neatly punctures that lame American nostalgia for the “simpler” times of the middle twentieth century. One of the subplots in the show concerns the “neurotic”…

Clinton

Saw Bill and Hillary today. I’ll spare you my political commentary, except for two brief observations: 1) Hillary’s biggest applause line came when she declared that, once she’s President, she’ll “listen to what scientists say and stop being so anti-science”. Much to my surprise, the crowd loved it. (The applause from the science line exceeded…