Robert Burton, the physician and authour, sits down this week with the Brainiac bookclub to discuss some of the ideas encapsulated in his most recent book A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves.
Walk into any commercial book store today and you'll find tables of titles dedicated to the brain. We have a deep fascination with trying to understand ourselves through this complex organ, but that fascination can also lead to field fetishism; an exaggeration of the importance of neuroscience in defining the human condition.
Between brain folds, our bodies, and the universe at large there's much more to the story of who we are and how the world works than neuroscientifically reductionist thought might have you know. There's a business to be made from bottling our brains and selling its stories as truths of our time. In A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves, Burton takes a critical look at current research and key assumptions in how our brains make us who we are, then offers suggestions on how to look at what neuroscience has to offer.
In this clip Burton discusses differences between the brain and the mind, and describes how involuntary thoughts come to rise into consciousness. These are topics he has written about from different angles in Skeptics Guide and his other nonfiction title On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not.