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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Uncommon Descent Contest Question 18: Can the ancient reptile brain help explain human psychology? If so, how? If not, why not?

(Note: Go here for Contest 16 ("Are materialist atheists smarter than other types of believers?") and here for Contest 17 ("Why do evolutionary psychologists need to debunk compassion?"). )
We have, we are told, three brains - reptilian, mammalian, and primate. Here is a conventional science explanation, and here is the pop psychology that results.

It all sounds bit too neat to me, for two reasons: First, all the areas are interconnected, and second, it is not clear that reptiles uniformly fail emotionally compared to many mammals. See here, for example.

Honestly, it all sounds like pop psychology, straight from the airport paperback kiosk to the bored passenger. But I would be glad to know more. Here is a popularrendition of "reptile brain" theory, as employed by some lawyers in law courts.

So, for a free copy of The Spiritual Brain: a neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary, Harper One 2007), which argues for non-materialist neuroscience, answer this question: If so, how? If not, why not? What can it really tell us?

Here's Uncommon Descent Contest Question 18 at the site, so go there to enter in the Comments box.

Here are the contest rules. Four hundred words or less. Winners receive a certificate verifying their win as well as the prize. Winners must provide me with a valid postal address, though it need not be theirs. A winner's name is never added to a mailing list. Have fun!

Also, here are some posts at The Mindful Hack that may be of some use or interest:

Reptile brain: Even reptiles don't have one, or not exactly, anyway

Rooks in captivity show more feats using tools. [How come some birds are so smart and others are fairly stupid?]

Great majority of neuroscientists on wrong track?

Is your brain full of anachronistic junk?

Reptilian brain a barrier to investment?

Some fun You Tubes:

Training an alligator:

Alligators and crocodiles as parents

This one is not very funny at all - the alligator death roll - and is presented only as a caution:

Lots of people have died or suffered serious injuries trying to outsmart a crocodilian in a situation where the reptile is the expert.


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