Questions on the Nature of memory, personality, etc.

Robert M?rtin robertmaertin at
Thu May 13 03:01:30 EST 2004

David Longley <David at> wrote in message news:<wXO3qYDd4foAFwNF at>...
> In message <85d56b27.0405120043.5ea05a37 at>, Robert 
> M?rtin <robertmaertin at> writes
> >> I think you'll find that the problems lie much deeper than you make out.
> >> It is one thing to assert that one's a physicalist, it's a lot harder to
> >> practice that. In some areas of neuroscience the problems just don't
> >> arise. They manifest themselves in much more subtle and insidious ways
> >> elsewhere.
> >
> >
> >I can remember that Folk Psychology and Intentionality cannot be
> >reduced to physical terms and that there is a struggle determinism vs.
> >indeterminism.
> >But... this never bothered me.
> >
> >What are you thinking of ?
> >Do you know a situation where I might get into serious inner conflicts
> >? Or an assumption I have to make as a scientist that really would be
> >an outrage for certain philosophers ?
> >
> >regards
> >Robert
> The conflict arises when one has to read other peoples'  papers and 
> decipher what lots of them are *really doing* (as opposed to what they 
> say they're doing). Sadly, the methods sections are not always as clear 
> as one might expect. Having to skim so many introductions and 
> discussions, and critically read the methods and results sections tends 
> to make one a bit punch drunk! Getting down to the work oneself isn't 
> all that easy either. Folk insist on talking rather eccentrically and 
> ask what one is *really* doing. We are all creatures of our environments 
> <g>

I agree with you that especially in the field of cognitive psychology
big words are drawn from poor experiments. I'm thinking of fMRI
studies where a neural correlate of some higher cognitive function
(e.g. Language) is to be found. The localizations are coarse, the
underlying model often is distgustingly GOFL - AI like... assuming
that there are central executive regions...

But fortunately our professors teach us to critically evaluate
contemporary neurobiological and neuropsychological papers. "Do you
buy it ?" "Whould you do an other experiment ?", "Are the numerical
methods okay ?".
And there is an emphasis on clean behavioural and electrophysiological
experiments as well as numerical training at our institute.
Furthermore there are people whose papers I can read without turning
the methods section upside down because I know that I can trust these

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