Monday, June 11, 2007


Three good stories with real implications for TECHNOCORRECTIONS today. This one is the most important, I think, this catch at Neuroethics & Law blog, on a study talking about how "seductive" the lure of neuroscience is, leading maybe even experts to accept assertions "based on" the field and its findings less skeptically than other findings and assertions. Says Caitlin Connors at the blog: Her work provides a little confirmatory data for some long-held suspicions about the power of neuro-talk to overwhelm good critical thinking. Skolnick notes that this power deserves consideration given the increasing use of neuroimaging or neuroscience data in courtroom evaluations of guilt, free will, and responsibility. That pretty well sums up what we talk about here, I believe. . . . And here's a study that finds that "in children, a highly reactive autonomic nervous system, which regulates our cardiovascular, digestive and respiratory functions, paired with a stressful family environment leads to increased instances of maladaptive personality change." Uh, what does that mean??? "The results show that the combination of high SCR and high family risk predicted substantial increases in personality change and behavior problems. The researchers observed the children four separate times over the course of six years, making this the first study to show that the interaction of family adversity with a biological characteristic is associated with longitudinally measured change in childhood personality." . . . And finally, another study showing how context is very important for both becoming addicted to substances we do and don't regulate . . . and to becoming unaddicted. I'm reading a very good book right now on "the cult of pharmacology" that makes this point in ways that I'll related to you as soon as I have time after I finish it. But the basic point here in all three is that genetics and substances affect behavior, they can be studied neurologically more than ever before and given a biological base and solution (despite our traditional attributions of blame and guilt), and, because much of the related research will be framed in esteemed "neuroscience," it will be bought into much easier and quicker than other options or, you know, reality.

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