Tag Archives: Brain

The Master and His Emissary

I had many reasons to want to read Iain McGilchrist’s 2009 book The Master and His Emissary.

  1. Its an ambitious big-picture book, by a smart knowledgeable polymath. I love that sort of book.
  2. I’ve been meaning to learn more about brain structure, and this book talks a lot about that.
  3. I’ve been wanting to read more literary-based critics of economics, and of sci/tech more generally.
  4. I’m interested in critiques of civilization suggesting that people were better off in less modern worlds.

This video gives an easy to watch book summary:

McGilchrist has many strong opinions on what is good and bad in the world, and on where civilization has gone wrong in history. What he mainly does in his book is to organize these opinions around a core distinction: the left vs right split in our brains. In sum: while we need both left and right brain style thinking, civilization today has gone way too far in emphasizing left styles, and that’s the main thing that’s wrong with the world today.

McGilchrist maps this core left-right brain distinction onto many dozens of other distinctions, and in each case he says we need more of the right version and less of the left. He doesn’t really argue much for why right versions are better (on the margin); he mostly sees that as obvious. So what his book mainly does is help people who agree with his values organize their thinking around a single key idea: right brains are better than left.

Here is McGilchrist’s key concept of what distinguishes left from right brain reasoning: Continue reading "The Master and His Emissary" »

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A Bet I’d Have Lost

Three and a half years ago I made my largest personal donation ever to the Brain Preservation Foundation, to help fund their Brain Preservation Prizes. Just now they’ve announced that 21st Century Medicine has won their $26,735 Small Mammal Brain Preservation Prize, using a more cryonics-based approach. The other main competitor, Mikula, used the “plastination” approach I favored back then:

I offer to bet up to $5K that plastination is more likely to win this full prize than cryonics. (more)

Good thing for me no one accepted my offer; now it looks more like I’d have lost it. Next we’ll see who wins the Large Mammal Brain Preservation Prize, and when.

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