Greta’s Secular Students Week Blogathon! Episode 3: Neuropsychology, or, On Reading Science You Know Will Be Obsolete

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I’m doing a mini-blogathon today for Secular Students Week!

This week is Secular Students Week, when people around the Internet are celebrating the fantastic work the Secular Student Alliance is doing to empower students. Their goal is to get 500 donations now through June 17th: if they do, they’ll receive a $20,000 challenge grant! Help them keep up their amazing work by giving this week. A gift of $5, $10, or $20 will go a long way towards helping them reach this goal and empower secular students: please give today!

In today’s mini-blogathon, I’ll post a new blog post once an hour, from now (a little after 9:00 am Pacific time) until 5:00 pm Pacific time. In addition, for every donation that’s made today via my blogathon, I’ll post a new cat photo!

This hour’s blogathon post: Neuropsychology, or, On Reading Science You Know Will Be Obsolete.

I’m a big fan of books on neuropsychology. I’m fascinated by how the mind works: I mean, how could you not be? Consciousness, thoughts, feelings, experiences — made out of meat. That’s so cool! And there’s something exciting about how much the science is still very much in its infancy. We’re pretty darned sure that consciousness is produced by the brain — but we’re just beginning to start to think about maybe getting a grip on how exactly that works.

But the very fact that this science is in its infancy means that much of it is almost certainly wrong. And that’s a little weird. It’s a little weird to be reading books about science that, in one or two hundred years, will almost certainly be looked at the way we now look at two-hundred-year-old books on biology or geology. They didn’t know about evolution! They didn’t know about plate techtonics! Heck, it wasn’t that long ago that they didn’t know about atoms! Their scientific explorations were lacking in the fundamental truths underlying their science, the fundamental truths necessary to truly understand it.

In one or two hundred years, our current understanding of neuropsychology will be seen like that: historically interesting, worth paying attention to for an understanding of how the science developed, but not much more than that. Some of it will possibly even be a source of hilarity or horror (“They thought THAT?!?!?”), and people will be fascinated by which things we happened to get right, and which things we got hilariously wrong.

This is not to dismiss or trivialize the science. Quite the opposite. That’s how science works: we explore things we don’t know, until we know them. The fumbling around in the dark that we’re doing right now is laying the foundation for the fuller understanding we’ll have in one or two hundred years.

It’s just a little weird, is all.

Once again — please support the Secular Student Alliance! Help them get their challenge grant of $20,000 by reaching their goal of 500 donations now through June 17th. Even small donations help. Please support them today!

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Coming Out Atheist
Bending
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Greta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

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Greta’s Secular Students Week Blogathon! Episode 3: Neuropsychology, or, On Reading Science You Know Will Be Obsolete
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One thought on “Greta’s Secular Students Week Blogathon! Episode 3: Neuropsychology, or, On Reading Science You Know Will Be Obsolete

  1. 1

    I’ve been doing some reading recently that has tangentially involved studying 15th and 16th century alchemy. In the process, I’ve been thinking about much the same topic. Just about everything they thought they understood back then about the way the world works was wrong. Every. Single. Thing.

    And yet it really is true that they were the first step on the road to modern science. It wasn’t their actually theories or discoveries that were important; it was the methodology that they began to develop. Experiment. Write down what happens. And then, most importantly, form a network with other smart people who are doing similar things in other countries, and share your results with them. That was the biggie about alchemy’s contribution, which they probably had no idea about.

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