Monday, December 28, 2009

Brain fetish disorder

An article on December 26, 2009 in Pediatrics Week tells of a Carnegie Mellon study showing that intensive remedial reading courses change children's brains as reading skills improve.

Near the end of the article the (apparently fascinating) question is posed: "... whether intensive training brings about increased myelination that results in improved word decoding skills, or whether improved word decoding skills leads to changes in reading habits that result in greater myelination."

Can anyone explain how investigation of this question could possibly result in anything more useful than mysticism, just like the old quandry of whether the chicken or the egg came first?

I am familiar with the fetish about electro-chemical reactions and anatomical structures in the brain being all there is to, and the entire explanation and cause of, personality and behavior. But the single utility of that idea, as far as I can tell, is to motivate attempts to control personalities and behavior by fine-tuning brain chemistry with psychotropic drugs. We've been working on that project for decades and it has failed miserably.

Has anyone read The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World by General Rupert Smith? He writes about the destructive persistence in political policy making of the paradigm of industrial war, despite the fact that such war no longer exists.

It seems to me that there is a parallel and a relationship, to a similarly destructive persistence in culture creation, of the paradigm of the bio-mechanical individual.

More when I finish the General's book, maybe.

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