Interesting talk. But I believe she represents the typical scientist that pretends not to dwell into the why questions, teleology, philosophy, etc. but then do this continuously subconsciously (notice her remark at 23:23, she is unaware of her underlying metaphysical assumption she misrepresents for scientific fact.) Anyhow, those who, instead, are interested in the “annoying why questions” from a neuroscientific perspective, I recommend my paper: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1150605 I believe it gives an alternative answers to the title of this thread.

Expand full comment
May 3·edited May 3Liked by Adam Jacobs

Dr. Barrett first states, with almost no detailed knowledge of what Dr. McGilchrist has written about, that "HE'S WRONG" (perhaps I misread the tone, but it sounded rather aggressive in its absolute certainty).

Then she proceeds to describe what she understands him to be saying.

For more than 10 years, Dr. McGIlchrist has had to begin almost every presentation he's given with almost exactly the statements that Dr. Barrett uses to sum up her understanding of his theory (the old 1970s cliche of "left brain/rational/bad-boring; right brain/emotional/good-creative"). He then says, "This is NOT true. It is wrong."

If you don't get what I just wrote, I'll sum it up simply:

BARRETT: Dr. M believes "x." It is wrong.

MCGILCHRIST: Many people believe "x" about the hemispheres of the brain. It is wrong.

Also, the idea that the scientific method goes "deeper " than experience or understands "more" (I know she didn't use the words "deeper" or "more" but the implication is clear) is the purest expression of the religion of scientism I've seen in awhile. If I wanted to be a bit cheeky I'd say it's a pure example of the kind of attention that McGilchrist notes is mediated by the left hemisphere!

Expand full comment

Contra Dr. Barrett:

1. The brain is "split" (lateralized) all the way down to the spinal cord. This is fundamental to embryonic development.

2. The cerebellum is split.

3. There is not "one stock of subcortical neurons", but as many as 5300 different kinds, originating from different prosomeres and dorsoventral domains. These are split between left and right sections of the neural tube.

She realizes at some point she is talking nonsense but goes forth anyway.

McGilchrist aggregates a lot of lateralization neuroscience. To pretend that all of this has been debunked by some unnamed study is the most disingenuous sort of sloppy science practice.

I agree with a lot of Dr. Barrett's critiques. The triune brain zombie should be put out of its misery. But it's hard to take her seriously as a neuroscientist. She is a PoMo social construction theorist LARPing as one, whose popularity involves pandering to the humanities and soft science departments.

Expand full comment