Second-to-Last Set of Book Summaries: Romanticism and Europe 1848 to the Great War

My oral exams are scheduled for this Friday. I still have two more essays full of European history that I don’t want to withhold from you. My essays for Heidi Voskuhl got increasingly longer and I felt a bit bad about it, but now that I’m studying for exams from my notes, I feel better about it. Guess why. Continue reading

Neuroskeptic’s Patient-Researcher Perspective

Neuroskeptic just published a very interesting post asking: What Can “Lived Experience” Teach Neuroscientists? It’s a short reflection on whether or not neuroscientific research on depression (for instance) should include more patient perspectives. Being very up-front about a personal history of depression, Neuroskeptic points to a problem that sounds almost like the barber paradox. (Read it.)

Two thoughts on that: Continue reading

Follow Up …

… on incompatible systems: Our brain is much more complex than the apparatuses we use to assess it. What if fMRI and brain are just like course list (where I appeared as “registered”) and PennInTouch (where I registered as “audit” for the course)? It is pretty likely that we would not just continue to be nescient, but generate false knowledge.1 Anyhow, I think this point is very clear: If it happens to paper and digital databases, it can as well happen to neuronal systems and these noisy machines. Sadly, I will not take part in the class; luckily, however, I was able to communicate it—I am wondering how neurons / neuronal networks / brain areas might try to tell us we are in the wrong, when in fact they only audit a cognitive process while we think they are about to actively take part in it in order to receive credit for it. Poor neurons! Continue reading

Incompatible Systems?

This morning, I received an e-mail containing the syllabus and suggested readings for one of the fall 2013 seminars at my department. (Great to know that my professor works at 7am on Sundays.) I was planning to audit the course, and had registered as “audit” in the online registration tool. From my professor’s response, however, I learned that the class list lists me as a regular attendee. So, here is what might have happened: The HSS Department’s class list generating system does not need or want as much information as the detail-obsessed online registration tool acquires during its course registration process. Instead of not listing me at all, the class list therefore contains my name without any further specification. I find this quite interesting because it serves as an example that one system being informed by a more detailed one—and without the capacity of representing all of the specific information—can actually cause misconceptions, instead of only nescience. One might have thought that information being transferred between incompatible systems would simply be lost, and not create “false” knowledge. (Yes, I have already told the Professor.) Continue reading