Saturday, September 25, 2010

Subtlety from Simon, the reverse from Demagogue Dick

Very interesting discourse last night at the Royal Institution by my old friend Simon Baron-Cohen on Empathy and the Human Brain. He contrasted the 3 Personality Disorders which are characterised at least to some extent by a lack of empathy (Borderline, Psycopathic and Narcissistic) with Aspergers Syndrome & Autism. He has developed various tests of Empathy Quotient and cited interesting papers correlating such differences with various fMRI imaging differences. Though he makes the point strongly that at least 10 areas of the brain are involved in what he calls the Empapthy Circuit (I think it might be better referred to as an Empathy Network).

He also presented interesting evidence that people with Aspergers could be trained to read emotions better: they have produced interactive material with funding from the Shirley Foundation, which I think also endowed his chair.

Poor Dawkins, in a furious rage at being compared to Hitler (not, at any rate ostensibly, because of this YouTube parody though it is very funny), denounced the Pope as "Enemy of Humanity" before a rally of thousands of his chanting supporters. Doubtless unaware that demonising your opponents as "enemy of humanity" was a trope favoured by the late Adolf. Naturally the Dawkins Defenders are very keen to hide this fact (see "Enemy of Humanity" on Wikipedia and the deletion debate one of them launched within an hour of the article being created, if you can be bothered).

But not only is Dawkins' "science" being increasingly exposed as bogus and vastly over-simplistic, people are becoming more courageous is denouncing his idiocies and excesses in the atheist camp. Julian Baggini has been outspoken about this, and been flamed by the Dawkins Defenders: now Casper Melville has cautiously stuck his head above the parapet. If Dawkins were a real scientist he would listen and learn. Instead he shouts more loudly. Ah well, truth will prevail. To quote an email from great philosopher "It's a great comfort to see the views which I know in general to be nonsense comprehensively trashed from the scientific angle as well."

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