About the Nobel Announcement

Richard Norman rsnorman at mediaone.net
Tue Oct 10 15:15:05 EST 2000

"Steven Michael Harris" <stevenharris at mediaone.net> wrote in message
news:epGE5.38990$pu4.4192888 at typhoon.ne.mediaone.net...
> Nobel Announcement
> Yesterday they announced the winners for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. The
> work of these doctors that are being honored was good work that
> to the understanding of the nervous system, but the conclusions that were
> drawn from that work about the workings of the brain are going to be found
> wrong enough that they are making it almost impossible to understand how
> brain actually functions.
> I believe that this year's award will eventually be understood as one of
> great Nobel mistakes almost on par with the 1951 award to Egas Moniz, the
> discoverer of the lobotomy. It promotes a theory of basic science by using
> the language of "brain chemistry" that is supporting the pharmaceutical
> approach to solving problems and ignores many observations that conflict
> with the theories (or, rather, the language of the theories) put forth by
> this group of doctors.
> Full article:  http://people.ne.mediaone.net/stevenharris/theory/067.htm
Your ideas (as indicated in the full article) have at least two large flaws.

First, you give too much significance to the words of public relations type
releases describing the work rather than to the work itself.  Please confine
criticisms to the actual published papers of these three neuroscientists,
not to
what others write about it.

Second, you mistake the machinery of the process for the uses to which those
processes are put.  These three have clearly made great contributions to our
understanding of the chemical and molecular machinery of the brain -- in the
way that one particular neurotransmitter acts, in the role of
phosphorylation and
the signaling mechanisms that result in it, and in the mechanisms that can
contribute to long term modulation of synaptic function.  These chemical
are clearly at the heart of how the machinery of the brain works.  Whether
or not
the chemical machinery completely determines the working of what we refer to
as "mind" is rather another story.  But for now, understanding merely the
brain is no
mean feat!

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