No Brainer

You have to pity the brain. Nobody really understands it, but it's like boys first trying to make sense of girls - a whole lot gets read into its every pop and crackle. Electrodes get attached to it, it gets prodded, dissected and scanned. (OK, the analogy breaks down there, unless you know boys who do those things to girls.)

And unlike everything else that gets called decent science, people go looking there for something they've already decided IS there. They try to find the site of emotion, of imagination, of visual imagery, of thoughts etc. etc. But anybody who's held any sort of brain, or even seen a picture of one, knows this is all complete bunkum. The brain is just a lump of flesh, like every other organ in your body.

I know neuroscience is now a highly complex science, with incredibly sophisticated theories and data and experiments to 'prove' that the brain is the seat of all of these fabulous things. But it's mostly crap science, because again it presumes what it sets out to prove - it's a suite of self-fulfilling prophecies. For example, it's declared to be a proof that different parts of the brain are 'responsible for' or the seat of something like taste, because when the experimental subject is given something to eat some electrical current is fired off in some part of the brain, measured by the neuroscientist. How this proves a single thing except that the brain carries electrical current is a mystery. I could measure the fuel flow to my engine when I'm driving, and if I said "therefore driving takes place in the fuel line", people would call me an idiot. This is exactly what neuroscientists do, and yet the idiocy of it is missed.

Cut open any brain and find me a memory. Or a mental image. Or a thought. It's all laughable rubbish. No other field of science would get away with positing some epiphenomenon that lies 'above' what is actually measured. They used to do that with the aether and with epicycles in astronomy. We laugh about those ideas now. Maybe one day we'll laugh about neuroscience, and leave the brain alone.

P.S. The fabulous perversity of all of this was highlighted by the cutting out of Einstein's brain at his death, supposedly to help examine the seat of his genius. I've seen documentaries with earnest scientists discussing this with all seriousness. And sceptics organisations which lampoon everything else that isn't nailed down lap it all up like the moronic inquisitors they are.

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