A VISIT FROM NORMAN DOIDGE, MD (or) How to Write Chapter One of a Non-Fiction*** Best-seller.
Approaching the subject of what the brain does and doesn't do is fraught with all kinds of pitfalls. But perhaps the most dangerous of all are the ways we even speak about it. Everyone of us has, at one time or another, probably used or has seen the words "brain" and "mind" used interchangeably. And yet, if one traces the origin of the words back to their historical origins, you'll find that they once meant two entirely different things.That was before people who call themselves "brain" or "neuro" scientists put themselves in the driver's seat. Once they got their hands on brains, and were able to examine them under microscopes, things changed. They didn't exactly jettison philosophers like Aristotle from the car - after all, the Greek philosopher established a form of scientific inquiry that is practiced even today and, by the way, he included a delineation of the difference between "brain" and "mind"in his work. They just put him and some of his historical cohorts in the back seat where they can refer to them whenever doing so advances their own agendas.
But in 2003, the same year that I began working with my friend Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita, and the same year that Neuroscientist/psychoanalyst Norman Doidge visited us and began researching his book "The Brain That Changes Itself" - a different kind of book was published that has since shaken the very foundations of Neuroscience; while simultaneously shining the spotlight of truth on those people who get degrees in philosophy and go on to con us into believing this gives them the right to call themselves "philosophers."
M.R. Bennett is Professor of Physiology and University Chair at the University of Sidney and a winner of many awards in the field of Neuroscience for his research, papers and two landmark books prior to this one: "The Idea of Consciousness" and "A History of the Synapse"
P.M.S. Hacker is a Fellow at St. John's College,Oxford and the author of numerous books and articles on philosophy of mind and philosophy of language.
Here is a quote from this book's Introduction by the authors:
"If we are to understand the neural structures and dynamics that make perception, thought, memory, emotion, and intentional behavior possible, clarity about these concepts and categories is essential. Both authors, coming to the investigation from very different directions, found themselves puzzled by, and sometimes uneasy with, the use of psychological concepts in contemporary neuroscience. The puzzlement was often over what might be meant by a given neuroscientist's claims concerning the brain and the mind, or over why a neuroscientist thought that the experiments he had undertaken illuminated the psychological capacity being studied, or over the conceptual presuppositions of the questions asked. The unease was produced by a suspicion that in some cases concepts were misconstrued, or misapplied or stretched beyond their defining conditions of application. And the more we probed, the more convinced we became that, despite the impressive advances in cognitive neuroscience, not all was well with the general theorizing."
Nowhere is the premise of this book more obvious than in what followed Dr. Doidge's one-day visit to Middleton, Wisconsin - which formed the basis for the first chapter of - and perhaps even the very title of his book "The Brain That Changes Itself". A few days ago I found the video recording I made of his visit - which is what led me to the decision to share some elements of the seven-year investigation I have been conducting since then, into the origins of what are - I'm sorry to say - a plethora of false assumptions and conclusions. I believe the best way to do that is to give you some time to look over the following three videos clips (below) before presenting further information about what my investigations have uncovered.
Taken together, the contents of these videos establish a foundation for understanding how what originated with Paul Bach-y-Rita's misinterpretations of psychologist James J. Gibson's groundbreaking research in the field of Perception - even though it was Gibson's work that gave him the idea for his invention - were further distorted by the audacious conclusions that Dr. Doidge reached during his one-day visit to Dr. Bach-y-Rita's laboratory. The results are a muddle of assertions that boggle the mind... or brain... at this point, you can take your choice.
1. The first video clip documents what Doidge saw and heard during the opening minutes of a demonstration that was given for him of the BrainPort -- which was then still called the "Tongue Display Unit". The demo took place less than two months after Paul had first invited me to visit him and see the amazing device in action for myself. So I was still merely recording what I saw happening, without giving it much thought. That came later. There'll be more excerpts later on - but so much occurred during those first few minutes (which we'll also focus on later) that I ask you to watch carefully - and even take notes - should you have any questions about what you see ... (I can be reached at email@example.com.)
2. & 3. Are videos I found of Norman Doidge giving a presentation after he had written his book and it had become a world-wide sensation. It took place in Melbourne, Australia, and the introduction given by the moderator is as fascinating as is Doidge's presentation - even though, or maybe because, both are filled with the kinds of overblown misconceptions that have now become "common knowledge" despite their falsities.
If you're really interested in this stuff, then I suggest that you watch all three videos and listen very carefully to what is being said, since it's all fodder for the kind of "common knowledge" that's become the first giant step this so-called civilized world of today has taken - and continues to take - towards Aldous Huxley's "BRAVE NEW WORLD" of tomorrow. Why? Because what's being presented by some people as if it was the Word of some God of Science that's been personally handed down to them - not only sounds good - it also feels good, when one hears it . So, by golly, why shouldn't the rest of us think like "the Gospel according to Norman Doidge and his crew of neuro-scientists, pop-psychologists and would-be philosophers" would like us to think.... It's all gonna make our brains super-computers and our kids' brains super-duper machines...( oops!) ... computers! (Like there's a difference...)
***It's not the first time a so-called non-fiction book was jam-packed with all kinds of fiction.
PS: Evidently,the less sense your title makes - the better your chances are of your book becoming a best-seller.