the liver and the brain

David Longley David at
Tue Aug 31 04:42:23 EST 2004

In article <363d693e.0408301514.1d155bb7 at>, ray 
scanlon <rscanlon at> writes
>I find it interesting that we can have a discussion of how the cells
>in the liver work together without any bitter attacks on a persons
>parentage. But when a similar discussion on how the interneurons are
>connected and how they work is broached there is nothing but
>What is wrong?
A personal view (posted from and addressed to readers 
of that group):

Perhaps it's because when people talk about the liver they aren't (these 
days) likely to use its structure and function as a foil (Cartesian 
projection screen) upon which to project their pet folk psychological 
metaphysical prejudices of "mind" or "self". Most people "talking about 
the brain" aren't, in my experience, talking about the brain at all. 
They don't actually know enough about it (despite decades of experience 
in some cases!). If they knew more, paradoxically, they wouldn't dare 
write the popular nonsense they do. What they're actually doing is 
writing metaphysics or science fiction, using "the brain" as their 
excuse for writing metaphysics and fiction, thinking the odd over 
simplified reference to bits of the brain and their connections renders 
what they're saying a less metaphysical and fictitious and a more 
physical and presumably true as a function of doing so. Most readers 
can't tell. It really is, in the main, naive commercial nonsense as most 
people with a sound grounding in anatomy, physiology and biochemistry 
would tell you.

On the rare occasions that I draw on my neuroscience background (most 
folk here wouldn't know what the NIMR is, or what I did anyway), I've 
tried to ensure that what I've had to say about the CNS is consistent 
with basic, sound anatomy and neurophysiology (the cranial nerves, the 
*basic* structure of the paleo and neo striatum and cortex etc - the 
supposed role of monoamines and peptides in "regulating" behaviour). 
What I've said has been simple because that's I need refer to in order 
to make the "simple" points about the priority of behaviour analysis 
that I wish to make. I purposely don't elaborate (although my training 
probably equips me to do so as well as some of the celebrity 
neuroprattlers) as I think that it's largely be sleight-of-hand and 
doesn't really contribute much anyway even if the details could be 
reliably spelled out.

Don't you think slight-of-hand and metaphysics deserves derision?
David Longley

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