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Ethical Brain: Chapter 7

#21: Oct. - Dec. 2005 (Non-Fiction)
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Chris OConnor

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Ethical Brain: Chapter 7

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This thread is for discussing Ch. 7 - Antisocial Thoughts and the Right to Privacy. You can post within this framework or create your own threads. Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 11/1/05 12:28 am
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Re: Ch. 7 - Antisocial Thoughts and the Right to Privacy

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Another fairly solid chapter. I think Gazzaniga is getting into territory he feels more comfortable with, in part because he's emminantly qualified to talk about the results of looking for answers in the brain itself, which is very much what this chapter is about. There is one question that occured to me while reading this chapter, though: that of whether or not we should seek the truth at any cost. Gazzaniga has suggested that the best reason for not looking for the truth in the privacy of the brain is that we're so liable to misinterpreting it, of perverting the truth, and thereby incriminating a person just by looking at them, so to speak. And as I understand it, that's the reason for the constitutional and legal safeguards that protect defendents from incriminating themselves -- the system is dangerously fallible, and so we have to set limits on our search for the truth.But let's assume for the moment that Gazzaniga is wrong about our capacity to find the truth through neuroscience -- I think that he's very likely right, but bear with me. If it were possible to perform a brain scan and find out with absolute certainty whether or not a particular suspect was guilty, would we still have good reason to abhor the act? What do we value more: truth, social order, or privacy?As a tangent, page 114-115 describes a method of "reading minds" by comparing facial movements to a battery of information about the effects of emotion. Some of the science fiction fans on BookTalk may have gotten the same sense of deja vu that I felt, because this is almost exactly the procedure described by Philip K. Dick in "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and depicted in the movie "Blade Runner", adapted from the book. In those, it's called the Voight-Kamt test, and it's used to distinguish genuine humans from the artificial humanoids called replicants. So I wonder how the tests described by Gazzaniga might play into his consideration of degrees of "humanness," which is at root in his determination of moral status. Any thoughts?
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Re: Ch. 7 - Antisocial Thoughts and the Right to Privacy

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Gazzaniga refers to V.S. Ramachandran in chapters 6&7. I was first introduced to Ramachandran's ideas at BookTalk. We were discussing Pinker's Blank Slate when Peter recommended I listen to a radio lecture by Ramachandran. Here is the link to that discussion- p090.ezboard.com/fbooktalkfrm66.showMessage?topicID=13.topic. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to that broadcast. If you're interest in Ramachandran was piqued consider listening to him here- www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2003.
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Re: Ch. 7 - Antisocial Thoughts and the Right to Privacy

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I'm checking booktalk from a library kiosk, so I can't really listen to the webcasts right now. Can someone give me some background on Ramachandran? -----------------"Ain't got a name, just a current address."
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Re: Ch. 7 - Antisocial Thoughts and the Right to Privacy

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Here is a link about Ramachandran-psy.ucsd.edu/chip/ramabio.html.
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Re: Ch. 7 - Antisocial Thoughts and the Right to Privacy

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Interesting. We'll have to look at some of his published works and see if there's anything that interests us enough to nominate him for a future quarterly reading.
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Re: Ch. 7 - Antisocial Thoughts and the Right to Privacy

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Julian suggested a book by Ramachandran in the chapter 6 thread. I think it would be a great BookTalk read.
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Re: Ch. 7 - Antisocial Thoughts and the Right to Privacy

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Chapter 7 reminds me of Blink, by M. Gladwell. That was an interesting book. Gazzaniga mentions Ekman's research on facial expressions. Gladwell discusses Ekman's research in more depth. Gazzaniga also discusses categorization, prejudices and law enforcement. Gladwell gives examples pulled from the headlines, as well as a suggestion to take Harvard's Implicit Association Tests. If you're interested in such research, I suggest reading Blink.
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Re: Ch. 7 - Antisocial Thoughts and the Right to Privacy

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Maybe one of you can post that suggestion in the suggestion thread.
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Re: Ch. 7 - Antisocial Thoughts and the Right to Privacy

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I did it, Chris!
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