Basic know how

Noah nschwart at
Mon Mar 16 02:54:07 EST 1998

ATeasd5941 wrote:
> Brain basics for you all.
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Who said this?   " Nature acts without doctors!"
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Who is the fellow referred to in the following statement?
> He antagonised his fellow doctors by accusing them of being ignorant
> and greedy, but his patients revered him.
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> " What year is the following statement related to?"
> Until last year they were taught that animal and human embryos
> developed along the same lines, no one questioned it.
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> When did it take a torturous week of open debate to gain a degree
> of worth?
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Who invented the guillotine and why?
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Carol T

Dear Carol T,

My editorial response to your postings:
If you're news posting was guided at invalidating my sense of knowledge
about the world, then you've succeeded.  I cannot answer these
questions, but will I not obsess over finding the solutions just to show
you up.  I have not been paying attention to this newsgroup very long,
so I may be missing some knowledge about the past which explains your
role as the gadfly.  I appreciate your attempts at making us question
our function in the world as neuroscientists, in fact I realize that
such a position is necessary to keep academia from stagnating in its own
dogma, but your position is unfufilled as you have not maintained
topic-relevant dialogue about the questions you've raised.  The original
gadfly to the state, Socrates, felt his actions were necessary to bring
about change.  This is granted.  However, Socrates did not sting and run
as you have done.  If you want to change the world, you have to push,
not just shove.

My intellectual response to your postings:
I am a cognitive neuroscientist.  The paradigm in which I operate on a
day to day basis is that of neuroscience.  I cannot watch a person
behave a certain way without considering the neural processes taking
place leading to the expression of the behavior I then observe. 
Intellectually, the world is a very simple place to me.  People ask me
about object recognition and I rattle off the usual stuff about complex
cells and the inferior temporal cortex.  I cannot answer for all
phenomena as adequately, but still people ask me about consciousness and
soul and I talk about implicit proprioception, limited awareness of
internal processes, and consequential awareness of self as biologically,
neurologically, and mentally distinct from other.  The world is a simple
place to me.  Your postings are aimed at a different aspect of human
nature than that which I can most easily relate to as a neuroscientist.
To quote a philosophy professor I once knew, "A German philosopher once
told me the answer to life, the universe, and everything... too bad I
don't speak German."  Here, I speak neuroscience.  What do you speak?

My response to your postings as a human being:
Despite my attempts at rationalizing the world, I am a human being.  I
can intellectualize my thoughts down to the neuron, but I still cry at
sad movies, I still enjoy the company of a friend, and I still fall in
love just the same as anyone else.  I am still a human being no matter
what I tell myself about the brain and behavior.  This is something I
cannot and would not change for anything.  As a human being, I read and
think about the things you write so poetically, and I feel that you need
to reconsider your position:  You talk about purpose for existence and I
can neither affirm nor deny that a "purpose" could feasibly exist.  You
talk about greatness and great people having the ability to understand
the implications of what they know, but did you ever consider the
implications of knowing the purpose of life?  Could I ever have peace of
mind again in living what I believe to be a genuine life when I could
possibly be behaving contrary to my "purpose"?  If you are correct that
there is a distinct and undeniable purpose to life from which I cannot
deviate, I pray you never tell me.  Ignorance is bliss, anybody who says
otherwise doesn't know the whole story.

I hope this is the response you didn't exepct, since you seem to have
had a purpose to your postings.


Noah Schwartz
Human Being, neuroscientist, and ignorant fool-- in no particular order.

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