Highlights of the Week

October 21, 2011 by
Filed under: Social Brain 
  1. The Iain McGilchrist RSAnimate is now live! If you are wondering whether it is worth twelve minutes of your time, take five minutes to read my blog: The Master and his Emissary-The Book of The Century?
  2. As Emma noted yesterday we had a great event at the RSA yesterady: What is Madness? The best moment, for me, is when the speaker Darian Leader, a Psychoanalyst, spoke about ‘amygdala fetishism’ and the tendency, particularly among males, to try to explain everything with reference to one discrete thing, especially body parts. He added suggestive words to the effect: “As a Psychoanalyst, I have to wonder what is going on there.” He also asked rhetorically about neuroscience: “I mean, which other science do you know that feels the need to put ‘science’ in their name? It was very funny at the time, but on reflection there are quite a few: cognitive science, behavioural science, social science, political science…ah hang on…he means all the flaky stuff…
  3. I attended an event at the House of Commons, hosted by Rachel Reeves MP, to celebrate the anniversary of the charity, Chess in Schools and Communities and encourage MPs to sign up to early day motion 2158 to get chess into primary schools across the country. There is a readable skit about the event in the Guardian.
  4. There was a great article in the New Scientist about the Capitalist network that rules the world which gives a much deeper idea about how ‘the 1%’ sustains itself.
  5. A curious study suggesting Brain imaging reveals why we remain optimistic in the face of reality but I remain mindful of Leader’s comments above.
There is plenty more to say, but no time to say it, so if you are not yomping up hills or building the big society, I hope these links help you enjoy your weekend.


  • Pat Shipley

    I haven’t yet had an opportunity to read McGilchrist’s book & I did not attend his talk but missing for me in the posted book summary & blog comments was the sex difference debate & the implications for society. Of course, insights from brain-damaged people, and mental ill-health are helpful. I don’t find the issue clearcut, however.There is probably only anecdotal evidence, & speculation, that the right hemisphere reflects the feminine/female & the left is masculine/male, but it’s worth thinking about, especially the issue of how far such a difference is learnt, culturally-influenced and important.   Psychologists might want to say that left hemispheric thinking/behaviour is dominant & sustained because that’s how we are taught in our educational system & later it is well-rewarded in our kind of culture. Biologists/neuroscientists might prefer biochemical explanations for different behaviours.  Weber’s sociology is illuminating about different kinds of rationality and value systems.