Serious Research?

Mentioned a couple of posts ago I was planning to read some Michael Gazzaniga after reading a couple of reviews that rang bells because he was one of the contributors to Iain McGilchrist’s Divided Brain film.

Wasn’t sure if I was ordering the right Gazzaniga book in his latest, so I’ve been digging. Basically, I wasn’t sure of he was worth reading from the philosophy of mind perspective, even though he’s clearly an eminent cognitive / brain / neuroscientist, philosophy being harder than either brain-surgery or rocket-science. There was already the suggestion in one of the reviews he was a more practical kind than one for abstractions. He’s written quite a few books in fact, as well of course, as many papers in the course of his scientific life. This from the front of his 2015 autobiography / memoir “Tales from Both Sides of the Brain”:

Still not sure, in fact, which to read. The autobiography already seems to cover much good ground – on brain and mind, on left and right brains – do I really want to read a later book by him on “Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind“? However, the earlier book being biographical, it also covers much of the politics of science. The latter being the main problem in most cutting edge science and/or philosophy as people protect convenient orthodoxies whilst promoting their own book sales under their pet “unraveling the mysteries of x” banner. Cynical, moi? Book sales confirm the basic memetic rule, they rarely equate to the quality of the content, more the fit with “what sells”.

Anyway, I digress. No sign of this with Gazzaniga yet, I haven’t actually read any other than the sub-title of his latest. Is that him or his publisher’s PR cashing-in?

Decisions, decisions.

Anyway, whilst deliberating, I went back to McGilchrist’s original book “The Master and his Emissary”. I’m always telling people that as well as being a convincing read on an unfashionable (ie non-PC) topic for a lay audience, it is based on decades of proper scientific research. Now, I’m the last to use numbers to support an argument (see memetics above) but I checked to see that McGilchrists book has 67 pages of bibliography on top of 55 pages of end-notes. Gazzaniga has 3 solo and 2 joint authored entries. That’s 5 amongst some 4000 individual references, only one of which is a book, the rest papers. I recall at the time being impressed with how well referenced Master and Emissary was, but I probably only skimmed the index looking for familiar sources, after reading the main text. Gazzaniga wasn’t familiar then. (No sign of Gazzaniga in Dennett so far as I can see, no reference in B2BnB for example.)

So is it

2017 – “The Consciousness Instinct: Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind”

2015 – “Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience”

2011 – “Who’s in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain”

That earliest title has the Master & Emissary allusion already in “who’s in charge?” and it dives straight into the instrumental reality of free-will. Blimey, I fancy all three.

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