the liver and the brain

r norman rsn_ at _comcast.net
Thu Sep 2 12:52:42 EST 2004

On 2 Sep 2004 09:56:43 -0700, rscanlon at nycap.rr.com (ray scanlon)

>r norman writes:
>> Yes,  Ray, I DO give citations.  We humans are supposed to be able to
>> learn from the experience of others.  That is a far better method than
>> just trying to think up things on our own.
>I value you citations. I have absolutely nothing against another's
>work. I do think that a request for a citation is usually a putdown.
>The requester has no intention of retrieving the citation; he only is
>expressing his scorn at someone who does not share his beliefs.
>Entrez PubMed is a great source. I use it.
>Unfortunately, as I come to the end of life, time is precious. I am
>usually restricted to survey papers and such.
>To me, your reference to experience and synaptic modification is
>unfortunate. It opens the floodgates to all the people who run rats
>through mazes. I say again and again that the organism enters the
>world ready for life. When the neonate draws his first breath he does
>not depend on experience—the neurons are already there and
>There is an urban myth to the effect that the brain is the greatest,
>the most complicated structure known to man. It is no such thing.
>Properly seen, it is a device produced by the DNA to get the organism
>through life. In every animal with a nervous system, it does exactly
>that. There are motor program generators, a filter of interneurons
>between the sensory neurons and the motor program generators, and
>motoneurons that effectuate the motor program.
>What else? In mammals, there is the thalamic reticular nucleus that
>can extend the period of filtering. This must provide a survival
>benefit or else the mammals would not be here. This filtering
>extension has lead to Plato's dialogues and God only knows what else.
>In the end, it is only a happenstance of evolution like the inside-out
>retina of the vertebrate eye.
>You say my analysis is simplistic. I bridle. I say, simple not

I'll simply say we disagree strongly.  All who study altricial species
(like humans) who are essentially helpless at birth would probably
also disagree.

I also have nothing against those who run rats through mazes, though I
prefer talking to those who stick electrodes into rat brains.

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