Breaking news in the realm of popular neuroscience. Apparently, we are unable to think both analytically and empathetically at the same time. It appears to be part of a resurgence of the dual-brain theory, where one half of our brain handles certain activities and the other half handles the rest. However, what’s implied is that one side must be suppressed when the other side is getting down to business.

Now I’m no neuroscientist. In fact, I’m not a scientist at all. I’m more of an amateur, armchair philosopher at best. And I must say, I’m bemused.

It’s refreshing, however, that one of the researchers in this study, Anthony Jack, seems to have considered some of the more difficult questions. He said: "The most persistent question in the philosophy of mind is the problem of consciousness. Why can we describe the workings of a brain, but that doesn't tell us what it's like to be that person?"

Thanks Anthony, great question.

This new discovery, according to the researchers, finally explains why, for example, a highly analytical “CEO [can] be so blind to the public relations fiasco his cost-cutting decision has made?” Or why, “even the most intelligent, complex brains can be taken by a swindler's story.” Or, maybe on the other hand, why a highly emotional person can be oftentimes, irrational?

Well, what do you think? Make sense? If the brain can function in only one “mode” at a time as this report suggests, how do we explain method actors? These people are professionals at analytically bringing emotions to the fore at an appropriate time. Or jazz musicians, whose “emotive” improvisation is a fluid series of 7 to 12-note mathematical patterns that must be played with absolute precision for them to make any sense.

These acts require a true combination of the emotional and the analytical.

Overall, way too many questions arise when humanity is reduced to a series of chemical processes and electric signals responding to external stimuli. I sort of imagine a world full of zombies, dead in the eyes and wandering around aimlessly as whatever happens around them causes some reflexive response. As the study suggests, “you don't want to favor one, but cycle efficiently between them, and employ the right network at the right time." But who goes around oppportunistically selecting brain networks?

The problem with neuroscience (not that it isn’t fascinating, useful and should be pursued) is that it is often passed off as an objective study of the subjective question of what it is to be human, which is exactly what THEE is! But the marked difference is that neuroscience uses objectivist methods, tools and terminology. And THEE uses methods, tools and terms that fit more with the subjectivity of human experience. Furthermore, neuroscientists suggest that we can operate our brain--choosing neural networks to activate, when what we operate is our mind—choosing what to say, what to do, when to commit or when to step back and review analytically.

It’s likely that this article doesn’t tell the whole story and that it’s not the scientists who are pushing the idea that neuroscience will someday be able to explain consciousness; it’s a problem that lies in the larger society.

When scientists publish papers and the results of their experiments, these reports usually come with probability calculations and confidence assessments based on statistical calculations that only relate to the particular conditions of the experiment. Any generalization to wider society or everyday life is pure speculation without any scientific justification.

So why are these speculations and generalizations presented to the media? Why are the probabilities of error not emphasized? Because society doesn’t accept uncertainty or ambiguity. Society wants absolutes. It wants answers. It has decided that the job of science is to provide these answers. And unfortunately, scientists have no choice but to work and move in society and, knowing full-well that if their theory comes up short after the necessary rigor, they might not get grant funding, or become an outcast in their community.

Recently, neuroscience has become the scientific field du jour. And while the aforementioned quote by Anthony Jacks brings light to the reality that neuroscience isn’t going to necessarily crack the mystery of consciousness or answer the question of what it is to be human, society and science journalists seem to have painted it as just one MRI away from all of the answers. Journalists and their readers have taken neuroscience and tried to reach too far into the realm of psychosocial reality.

The chemical processes in your brain, or which neurons fire during a certain emotion or activity isn’t you. Being human is far more complex than that.

This is why it’s so important that THEE becomes a recognized and respected scientific institution, as so much of our scientific inquiry—from economics to neuroscience diverges from its actual subject—the human experience.

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