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on April 5, 2015
Nina and the Neurons is an excellent kids program. Nina, with help from her neurons teach kids about science. Each neuron is a cartoon character that talks.

Fast forward 30 odd years and Nina's fans are sat watching the latest BBC brain documentary. Now we have a cgi cartoon of the brain firing neurons, like a spaceship. The watchers enjoying this fantasy have never looked down a microscope, but they believe.

Do you see how we are made infantile my mass culture? Think kids Art Attack programs, with a presenter, big table and exotic materials like a bowl of glue, a bowl of sticky tape and other bowls of shiny things.

Fast forward 30 years again. Think those adult cookery programs with a presenter, a big bowl of flour, a bowl of fruit and many other bowl. This is the same dumbed down principle.

Neuromania is kids doing science!

This coinage is from professor Raymond Talis' excellent 'Aping Manking'. When I read Talis, it was like the first time I tried mushrooms. I saw objects, 'objective', really objective, rather than the subjective slit we peep through, the slit masquerading as reality. Once you realise, you see the comedy. So every time I hear the mantra 'neurons firing', I smile.

Neuromaniacs are merely taking their slit for a grand ontology. Silly maniacs. Once you learn something, you can't un-learn it, and so once you see through the veil, like after a psychedelic trip, you can't be a fooled.

Mediocrity has a billion dollar brain machine and she is not afraid to use it! This is Tilis message, though he isn't rude enough to spell it out. This book is a welcome start in the avalanche that will bring on the next paradigm.

Can I recommend Bernardo Kastrup's Materialism is Baloney? Kastrup does a better job than most in destroying the pretensions of the myth makers.
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on January 8, 2012
Legrenzi and Umiltas book deals with all of those colour photos of the brain,
that mass media inundates us with. Pictures that apparently show us the precise location in which a certain thought or emotion occurs in the brain.

Indeed, newspapers often carry articles that one area of the brain governs falling in love, resisting temptation etc. illustrated by a picture of a human brain with a colored section. The news article then explains that the coloured part becomes active when participants in an experiment see their loved ones etc.

But do the newspaper readers really understand the many steps that are needed to produce that picture of the brain with the coloured area? And that each step is based on assumptions, which are not always sound?

In the book, Legrenzi and Umilta takes us through some of the techniques involved, from fMRI scanning to ''cognitive subtraction''. And as the techniques are explained the assumptions also gets exposed.

Obviously, the brain still holds many secrets.
Brain science is not just: The discovery of a one to one connection between a cognitive state and the activation of a brain area. Thats not enough to say that a phenomenon has been revealed and the problem has been solved...

Obviously not. Really understanding, how the brain works, takes many more steps beyond establishing connections between cognitive states and activations.

Obviously, we shouldn't believe everything we read in the newspapers.
And the book certainly explains to us that we should be careful, when neuro images are presented to us.
A good place to start, as we venture further into the frontiers of brain-land.

-Simon
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on August 19, 2012
This work is OK as far as it goes, but it remains much too much within a mechanistic, conventional cognitive psychology. Its philosophical grounding is weak and conventional. I would suggest as an alternative any and all of Raymond Tallis's expert and much deeper writings on this subject area, beginning with his early Explicit Animal and continuing through his most recent, Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity.
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on October 27, 2014
Pretty easy read and it does a fairly good job at outlining the problem of what the author calls "neuromania"
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