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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Real Delusions: Atheists, Political Narratives, and the Betrayal of the Enlightenment

Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice

The New Atheists, Political Narratives, and the Betrayal of the Enlightenment

The Real Delusion: Part 1

The New Atheists and the real faith

Since 2001, a group of scholars and intellectuals (for simplicity, and in line with current labels, we will call them the “New Atheists”) have become college campus celebrities for assailing the “irrationalism” of religious belief; some, like Daniel Dennett,1 Christopher Hitchens,2 and Richard Dawkins,3 already possessed laudable resumes, and some, like Sam Harris,4 rose in fame primarily because of their passionate pleas against faith in the immediate post 9-11 milieu. Although these thinkers differ in their analyses, their main theme is similar: religious faith is irrational and should eventually be discarded like a child’s toy by mature citizens in a modern, secular era. Although their arguments have not gone without criticism (see Atran5,6; also, see Hedges7 ), a healthy number of self-designated “free thinkers” have praised their work and continue to impugn the supposed benefits of belief. At times, this criticism can be healthy and productive; at others, it can be destructive and can devolve into ugly and uninformed attacks against Islamic civilization. At bottom, however, the most egregious problem with such attacks is that they ignore the real veil that distorts most people’s perceptions of reality, diverting attention from real political issues that affect millions of lives and convincing many intelligent college students that the chief problem in the world today is irrational religious conviction.

The New Atheists believe that they are carrying out the once stalled project of the enlightenment (See Richard Dawkins Foundation For Reason and Science Mission.8 ), of freeing minds from the shackles of religious fundamentalism and superstition so that they can perceive the unadulterated “scientific” truth about the nature of reality. This is a noble desideratum; the problem is that the real shackles of the mind–at least in the Western world–are not chained to religion but rather to mainstream political narratives. During the enlightenment, thinkers like Jefferson, Diderot, and Voltaire assailed religion and the churches that propagated it precisely because it was a dense and powerful curtain that was drawn over the eyes of humans. In the contemporary United States, however, the church is no longer an inordinately powerful institution and religion, even among believers, is not the most potent mythology. The most potent mythology is neoliberal nationalism9,10 and the most powerful institution is the corporation. In other words, the New Atheists have retained the outdated substance of the enlightenment but have left its vital spirit behind, have, as it were, mistakenly dragged a 200 year old corpse into the modern world. This would not be lamentable were it not for the profound influence that the New Atheists wield among intelligent and open minded students and intellectuals, the very students and intellectuals that progressives require to form a broad and effective coalition that can challenge the unprecedented power of corporations.

In this article, we will argue that that New Atheists are not heirs of the enlightenment and do not fundamentally challenge existing power structures and narratives in modern American society; instead they distract attention from important issues and scurrilously attack narratives that provide meaning for millions of people.11 We will first look at the interaction between human nature and political structures and how that necessitates the development and propagation of political/religious narratives. We will then trace the decline of religious narratives and the rise of secular narratives, focusing on the modern American political narrative. We will end by criticizing the New Atheists–particularly Sam Harris–for contributing to the West’s growing Islamophobia while ignoring issue of much greater political significance. In part II, we will examine the true legacy of the Enlightenment and those who continue its mission.

Human political nature

In the wonderful book Hierarchy in the Forest anthropologist Christopher Boehm argues that humans possess strong proclivities toward egalitarianism and autonomy.12 These tendencies, Boehm argues, do not lead to abhorrence of hierarchy but rather to a fondness for a “reverse” hierarchy. A reverse hierarchy is a system where political power is distributed among many people and despotic upstarts are thwarted by large groups of people. According to Boehm, however, humans are ambivalent and possess an undeniable potential for creating a tyrannical political system and submitting to it—especially if rapacious upstarts are not checked by the power of the many. These proclivities are illustrated by the palette of emotions humans possess and emit during perceived political events. Humans, for example, freely confer status upon certain individuals,13 submit to them,14 and often revere them; however, humans also detest individuals who appear despotic,12 ridicule and scold them, and sometimes even assassinate them.15 Desirous of status and power but abhorring and envying those who possess it, humans are therefore in a precarious perch between despotism and egalitarianism.

Another important human political proclivity that influences the balance between despotism and egalitarianism is the creation of ingroups and outgroups.16 That is, humans tend to form coalitions that are based on perceptions of common interests. Originally, these were based on bonds of kinship;17 however, coalitions were soon created and maintained using the bonds of “fictive kinship”18 or “imagined communities.”19 So, whereas the first coalitions were units of blood relatives, later coalitions grew larger and more complicated and included entire territorial swaths like “the Roman Empire.” A member of the coalition “Roman Empire” felt him or herself to “belong” to a large unit of people through the use of collective narratives and symbols.20 This coalitional tendency is important because it drastically affects the way humans perceive and treat each other. Perceived ingroup members, for example, are accorded respect and moral dignity, while perceived outgroup members are often accorded the status of “competitor” and extended little respect or moral dignity.21 The slaughter of outgroup members, if functional, is often lauded and outgroup suffering causes little guilt or compassion.22 As coalitions become larger and more complicated, they tend to “nest.” For example, a modern citizen of the United States might consider herself a member of the large coalition “U.S. citizen,” the smaller coalition “Democrat,” the even smaller coalition “Detroit Tigers fan” and the even smaller coalition “Member of the Pronin family.” Which coalition one emphasizes depends on social identity and environmental contingency. At a Tigers’ game, one would probably emphasize the “Tigers fan” coalition, but if a political debate broke out, one might emphasize the “Democrat” coalition. Coalitions often gain power through efficient coalitional nesting and networking and control of institutional structures.

The rise of states and the evolution of political narratives

Although scholars debate the details of the evolution of human societies, a general and useful framework organizes societies into bands, tribes, chiefdoms, and states, with the belief that societies evolve from bands into tribes and then chiefdoms and finally into complicated states.23 According to scholars, bands are mostly egalitarian organizations of family units; leaders are not formally elected and their power is limited and ephemeral. Put in Boehm’s terms, the reverse hierarchy maintains a diffusion of power and overarching political narratives are not necessary because there isn’t intense conflict between competing political coalitions. Tribes are more complicated, generally egalitarian, units of organization; leaders are not formally elected, but there is a more palpable status order. Although there is still a healthy diffusion of power, there are narratives about family ancestors and more formalized “political” ceremonies. Chiefdoms are the first form of society where lineages are ranked and where hierarchies become formalized; status inequalities are hereditary and legitimizing narratives are needed to explain the inequitable distribution of power. These narratives are generally religious and most chiefs are recognized as “divine.” States are complicated congregations of peoples, with loose kinship bonds, and extremely formalized hierarchies of political power.24,25 Unlike other forms of social organization, states are territorial units; ruling elites have a monopoly of violence and require sophisticated narratives of legitimation. Historically, states were legitimized by a priestly class which acted as the guardians of state power.26

There are a variety of reasons why religious narratives were the first and perhaps most powerful deployed to maintain social order and legitimize state power.27,28 Despite their power and efficacy, however, religious narratives in the West were eventually countered by currents of growing secularism. During the renaissance, for example, a number of thinkers began to emphasize the impressive power of human reason and began to analyze political order from a “proto-scientific” perspective, independent of references to religion (See, for example, Machiavelli29 ). The seed of this style of thinking gradually blossomed into the intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment and led to the decline in prestige and effectiveness of religious justifications of power.30 Thinkers like Voltaire and Dennis Diderot assailed the abject subjugation of reason to dying dogmas; eventually, other thinkers like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, attempted to extend the skepticism of the enlightenment to institutions like monarchy. Paine, in particular, was scathing in his assaults on anything that enslaved humans and defied the principles of reason.31 However, given the two important truths about human political nature addressed above, society did not become drastically more equitable or just32: coalitions still competed for political power, resources were still unequally distributed, and such inequities still provoked outrage from those who did not benefit from the “new” and “enlightened” social order. New narrative themes were necessary.

The most prominent of the new secular themes was liberal nationalism, or the idea that the nation state formed a coherent coalition and that the interests of the state were the interests of all citizens.33 This theme was buttressed with other themes about “freedom” and “equality” for all citizens; although it must be observed that some citizens were more “free” and more “equal” than others. Furthermore, unlike most religious narratives, which promised individuals happiness in the hereafter, liberal nationalism promoted the secular eschatology of progress, i.e. living conditions were improving and would continue to do so indefinitely.34 Importantly, these new myths obviated the need for religious myths and replaced them with equally non-empirical but rationally effective myths about nations, replete, even, with mythical stories of founding heroes, like George Washington, who were almost supernatural in their ambition, altruism, and moral character.35 Although purportedly “objective” and devoted to the “interests of all,” these narratives, like the earlier religious narratives, continued to serve the interests of the powerful and did little to mitigate the suffering of the less fortunate.

The modern American political narrative (refining the concept of narratives)

Marshal McLuhan, the famous media analyst, once noted that the last thing a fish would recognize in its environment is water.36 Like the fish, the last thing a human recognizes, if at all, is the cultural/political narrative that surrounds her and shapes her thoughts, beliefs, opinions, and attitudes about the world. Although the New Atheists are often presented as a scientific vangard who have peered behind the painted veil of mythical illusions, they have left the West’s (and for purposes of this article, America’s) primary narratives alone, unanalyzed–instead, focusing on more obvious and less interesting religious narratives. Consider J. Anderson Thomson & Clare Aukofer’s (Thomson is a trustee of the Dawkins Foundation) passionate assertion: “We owe it to ourselves to at least consider the real roots of religious belief, so we can deal with life as it is, taking advantage of perhaps our mind’s greatest adaptation: our ability to use reason.”37 Perhaps true enough, and a number of serious scholars have already done so–much more effectively, it should be added, than the New Atheists.38,39 On the other hand, how much more vital is it, then, to “consider the real roots” of policy in America, “so we can deal with” the political and economic world “as it is”? That is, instead of criticising the crippled institution of the church, responsible intellectuals should attack centers of concentrated power and the narratives that they propound. (We do not want to be misunderstood. Centers of power certainly use religious beliefs when they can; however, attacking religion qua religion ignores the larger point and leaves the more powerful political narratives and institutions alone.) To return to the fish, if we want to change our environment, we have to learn to recognize the water that surrounds us.

It is almost a truism that those who wield political and economic power also wield the power to choose which narratives get propagated into society. It is therefore important to understand not just the history of political narratives, but also the composition of power in America and how that shapes and determines the substance of political narratives. So what coalition or collection of coalitions, wields political power in America? The answer, it turns out, is simple enough: Those who have money–or own the means of producing income. This includes, the upper class, the corporate community, and the policy planning network.40 (see figure 1)

Figure 1. The Power Elite

Taken from Domhoff, G.W. (2005). The class-domination theory of power.

The basic goals of this group of “oligarchs” (or “power elite”) are income accumulation (or more broadly, resource accumulation) and protection of gained income from taxation (income defense).41 Since the power elite are composed of roughly the top 1% (to use a conservative estimate; the truth might be closer to the top 1/10 of 1%),42 the accomplishment of these goals will often necessarily conflict with the interests of the majority of the people. The only concrete way for the power elite to achieve their goals is through the creation of favorable political/economic policies; however, because of human egalitarian and coalitional proclivities (“our coalition deserves better”), such policies would be decried by most people. That is, a member of the power elite cannot simply assert “we are creating policies that benefit only the top 1%, while the rest of the people’s wealth stagnates or declines.” As we have noted, religious justifications of massive resource inequality have lost prestige and efficacy; therefore, modern power elites have had to use the basic enlightenment narrative, adjusted, of course, to account for historical developments (e.g., the rise of corporations and the development of state subsidized capitalism). The outcome of this adjustment is America’s most salient political narrative: “neoliberal nationalism.”

The basic principle of neoliberal nationalism is that there is a unified coalition called the “United States” that is historically exceptional and that all members of the coalition share a preponderance of interests. (see figure 2)

Figure 2. The Neoliberal Nationalist Ideology

From this principle, it naturally follows that American foreign policy is based on noble intentions, and that its only faults stem from beneficent motives sometimes gone awry due to incompetence or misunderstanding and a propensity to “judge” itself “by higher standards” than the rest of the world.43 Domestically, neoliberal nationalism propounds the idea that America is a free market country and that free markets promote happiness and justly recompense citizens for their economic behavior, or, more elegantly and oleaginously “free-market capitalism is far more than an economic theory. It is the engine of social mobility — the highway to the American Dream.”44 This is coupled with the idea that America is a democracy that allows each citizen to have equal input into policy formation to create a “fairness” narrative that justifies the current state of affairs by noting that “free markets” are just and that all citizens have equal political say.

From these principles, a number of corollaries follow. For example, the idea that the mainstream media presents an accurate picture of political reality because all voices are allowed equal access to the media and are weeded out through the just and fair mechanisms of the free market–Fox, on the right, is balanced by MSNBC on the left. Or, the idea that the government should intervene only sparingly, if at all, into the operations of the market. This last notion, although accepted on faith in modern times, is rather strange and affords insight into the ways in which political narratives are tailored to interact with pre-existing human proclivities. Throughout the seventies and eighties, the government and its employees were depicted as “outsiders” or people who did not share interests with the majority of “real” Americans. The government was, in other words, an alien and hostile coalition working only to engorge itself on the wealth of regular Americans. As Larry Kudlow succinctly put it when discussing Obama’s campaign proposals on the economy, “This isn’t free enterprise. It’s old-fashioned-liberal tax, and spend, and regulate. It’s plain ol’ big government. The only people who will benefit are the central planners in Washington.”45 (Notice that this is complicated: the same ideas about government were not extended into the realm of foreign policy.) In this way, Americans were/are taught to fear the tyrannical power of the government and to side with “benevolent” free market institutions like corporations. This also means that taxes are terrible because they pilfer money from average people and give it to government bureaucrats.

This narrative serves two important functions for the power elite: 1) it constrains cognition and 2) it narrows the range of acceptable debate. It constrains cognition because it literally makes it difficult to contemplate the world outside of its framework. Just as a religious person cannot think of reality outside of the framework presented by his or her theology, so the average American cannot think of politics outside of the framework presented by the neoliberal nationalism narrative. And it narrows the range of acceptable debate because discourse that does not accept the narrative’s basic principles is misunderstood and ridiculed. The bounds of acceptable debate, in other words, are determined by its principles. One can argue, then, that America’s war in Iraq was “dumb” or “rash”; one cannot argue, however, that America’s invasion of Iraq was a massive war crime, no different in motive from the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.46 Or, one can argue about whether or not the mainstream media are “too liberal” (meaning, too far to the left of the accepted narrative) or “too conservative” (meaning, too far to the right of the accepted narrative), but one cannot not do a straightforward institutional analysis of the media and American foreign policy without being labeled a “Marxist” or a “conspiracy monger” (see for example, George Shadroui’s screed against “anti-Americans” such as Noam Chomsky and Chalmers Johnson).47 In other words, this narrative shackles the mind to a superstition every bit as powerful and quite a bit more pernicious than religion; and it does so in a way that benefits elite coalitions at the expense of the majority of the peoples of the world.

The New Atheism as a betrayal of the enlightenment, focusing especially on Sam Harris

Voltaire once sardonically noted that “the human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe.”48 Although certainly true, the goal of enlightenment thinkers–like Voltaire himself–was to make those reasons more difficult to find, and, in a sense, to make humans face the truth about themselves more directly. It is even more important to accurately perceive the motives and behaviors of powerful people because their actions entail greater consequences. Certainly, there will never be a paucity of justifications for the even the most rapacious and brutal of behaviors; however, if we strain to see beyond the webs of an erroneous narrative, we can at least grasp at political reality and attempt to guide political policy in a more salubrious direction. This makes the New Atheists all the more disappointing. Instead of using their considerable intellectual talents to deconstruct the powerful myth of neoliberal nationalism, they waste them on attacking various religions, most of which have little direct influence on the welfare of American citizens. Worse still, some, like Dawkins and Harris, use their talents to disparage Islam, blaming the tragedy of 9-11 on “Islamic fundamentalism,” despite evidence that such blame is an extremely simplistic footnote in a much larger story.4,5,49,50

While Dawkins seems to believe that superstition can compel all kinds of horrific atrocities, and therefore that all religions have the capacity to compel horrendous acts of terror, Harris deserves special ridicule for his singular and anti-enlightenment insistence on attacking Islam and making baseless assertions about ethical and political issues, while sedulously avoiding anything too critical of official state dogmas. While Harris does sometimes offer vague “support” for “moderate Muslims,”51 he more often than not denigrates Islam for being a violent religion, the very tenets of which “are a threat to us.”51 In fact, according to Harris, we are not at war with “terroism,” but rather with “Islam,” in a phrase that would no doubt impress the most fervent of religious votaries during the Crusades.51 For Harris, any kind of criticism of the ghastly and grisly effects of American foreign policy is essentially beside the point and can be dismissed, if he does not like it, as “leftist unreason.”52 To be fair, Harris follows a familiar script and concedes that the United States has been guilty of tremendous crimes in the past53 but notes that such crimes would not be tolerated anymore. (This is a standard, “yeah we made mistakes in the past, but we have changed” statement. Notice this would provoke only laughter if made by an official enemy; so if Saddam had said, “We have done some horrible things but that is in the past,” before the invasion of Iraq, few would have taken him seriously.) Harris also parrots the neoliberal nationalist narrative, noting that we are, in many respects, a well-intentioned colossus;54 apparently this means that our atrocities are “well-intentioned” and therefore superior to the “ill-intentioned” atrocities of others.

Harris professes to love science and reason and asserts that the time has come to “subject our religious beliefs to the same standards of evidence we require in every other sphere of our lives.”51 Unfortunately, Harris does not inform us what these standards are and judging from his writings, they are not very stringent. For example, the majority of his asseverations about the unspeakable evil that is Islam are made in an empirical vacuum. He often asks his readers to engage in “thought experiments,” surprisingly discovering that the answers he desires are the ones his hypothetical reader must have come to.55 The reason Harris must resort to such tactics is that the precise causal links between religion, war, and terrorism are not well understood. As Harris must know, there is little extant empirical evidence on this complicated issue and confident pronouncements cannot take the place of rigorous research.5 Ignoring for the moment the geopolitical situation of the Middle East (see part II), what evidence we have suggests that Harris’ views of Islam are incorrect. For example, Arab opinion of the US is highly contingent upon perceptions of US foreign policy. When Obama was elected, the number of Arabs who viewed the United States favorably increased dramatically. However, as Obama’s policies unfolded, Arab opinion of the United States dropped to levels as low as during the last years of the Bush presidency. Most of this change in opinion was tied to dashed hopes. Arabs do not despise the United States because they consider it a part of “Dar al-Harb” but rather because they are against the continuing occupation of Palestinian lands and American interference in the region.56 It is also worth noting that Arabs comprise less than 20% of the world’s Islamic population, in sharp contrast with common perceptions in the United States.57 In short, the “religious war” that Harris and others persistently warn about is a figment of the imagination.

Turning to domestic issues, Harris is only slightly less confused but equally irrational. Dismissing other less obvious but more potent reasons, e.g., corporate owned media, Harris opines that “religion is the reason why our political discourse in this country is so scandalously stupid.”58 And he further laments that Obama’s candidacy is “depressing” because “it demonstrates that even a person of the greatest candor and eloquence” has to feign religious belief to have a successful political career. Apparently Obama’s (and the Democrats in general) abject subservience to the corporate sector (especially Wall Street) and dedication to American imperialism are non-issues, but his feigned faith is tragic because it insults Harris’ reason.59

Like the other New Atheists, Harris appears to possess an unhealthy fixation upon a peculiar notion of religious belief, betraying the spirit of the enlightenment, and attacking “the hideous fantasies of a prior age” while fully embracing the hideous fantasies of the modern age.60 As such, it is not difficult to discern the reasons for Harris’ rise to fame in the United States. He has chosen the appropriate out-group to denigrate, while comforting powerful state and corporate coalitions. In the end, one is entitled to ask whether or not Harris “is ready for the audacity of reason,” or if he would prefer to continue his religious quest to rid the world of his accepted definition of “superstition.” One is also entitled to believe, as Voltaire did, that “an atheist who is rational, violent, and powerful, would be as great a pestilence as a blood-mad, superstitious man”– a statement born out by the many atrocities of our blood stained century.61

Conclusion: The true spirit of the enlightenment

As we have discussed, humans possess propensities for creating reverse dominance hierarchies and coalitions with sharp ingroup/outgroup divisions. These tendencies have interacted with technological, environmental, and ideological innovations to give rise to the modern state. Although humans can be egalitarian, there is a struggle against individual and coalitional upstarts; one of the most effective weapons that powerful coalitions wield against subservient and less organized coalitions is the legitimation narrative. Such a narrative attempts to convince the rank and file that their interests are identical (or close to identical) with the powerful; it also often prevents them from forming their own unified coalitional counterweight by fomenting strife between different groups (e.g. workers and immigrants, Christians and Muslims, Caucasians and minorities, et cetera). Enlightenment thinkers attempted to demystify the narratives of powerful aristocrats, monarchs, and clergymen because those were the most powerful coalitions (individuals) of their day and as such controlled the most powerful institutions (e.g., the church and state). The New Atheists have continued the Enlightenment’s emphasis on the value of religious skepticism, but have forgotten its purpose; they have consequently distracted attention from the real inequities of modern society. Instead of attacking the powerful and the narratives that they propound, the New Atheists have kicked up a cloud of confusing dust, impelling many to write passionate pleas from both sides of the faith divide that unfortunately amount to little more than a side show to real issues of political importance.

This article has focused on the New Atheists and the betrayal of the Enlightenment. In part II, we will explore legitimate heirs of the Enlightenment, focusing especially on Noam Chomsky and on how the praiseworthy goals of the Enlightenment can be accomplished in the modern world.

  1. Dennet, D.C. (2006). Breaking the spell: Religion as a natural phenomenon. New York: Viking. []
  2. Hitchens, C. (2007). God is not great: How religion poisons everything. New York: Twelve Books. []
  3. Dawkins, R. (2008). The god delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. []
  4. Harris, S. (2004). The end of faith: Religion, terror, and the future of reason. New York: Norton. [] []
  5. Atran, S. (2010). Talking to the enemy: Faith, brotherhood, and the (un)making of terrorists. New York: Harper Collins. [] [] []
  6. An Edge Discussion of BEYOND BELIEF: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival, Salk Institue, La Jolla November 5-7, 2006 []
  7. Hedges, C. (2008). I don’t believe in atheists. New York: Free Press. []
  8. The Mission Statement reads: “Support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and human suffering.” []
  9. Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. []
  10. Chomsky, N. (1999). Profit over people: Neoliberalism and global order. New York: Seven Stories Press. []
  11. We wish to note that the New Atheists are not a monolithic group and that Dennett in particular has expressed great respect for the accomplishments of religion. What we are attacking, to a certain degree, is the image of the New Atheists presented by the media and by many college campus groups with which we have had contact. It is true, however, that Harris and Dawkins, especially, have scurrilously and unintelligently attacked religious traditions in a way that appears mean spirited and short sighted. []
  12. Boehm, C. (1999). Hierarchy in the forest: The evolution of egalitarian behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. [] []
  13. Henrich, J., & Gil-White, F. (2001). The evolution of prestige: Freely conferred deference as a mechanism for enhancing the benefits of cultural transmission. Evolution and Human Behavior, 22, 165–196. []
  14. Mazur, A. (2005). Biosociology of dominance and deference. Lanham, MD: Rowland and Littlefield. []
  15. Boehm, C. (1993). Egalitarian behavior and reverse dominance hierarchy. Current Anthropology, 34, 227-254. []
  16. Berreby, D. (2005). Us and them: Understanding your tribal mind. New York: Little, Brown. []
  17. Geary, D.C. (2010). Male/female: The evolution of human sex differences (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. []
  18. Atran, S. (2003). Genesis of suicide terrorism. Science, 299, 1534-1539. []
  19. Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso. []
  20. Livy, T. (1962). A History of Rome (M. Hades & J.P. Poe, Eds.). New York: The Modern Library. Livy, for example, has this colorful quote about the origins of Rome:
    And if license is allowed any nation to exalt its inception and make the gods its sponsors, so towering is the military glory of Rome that when it avows that Mars himself was its father and the father of its founder, the races of mankind can submit to the claim with as little qualm as they submit to Rome’s dominion. (p. 18). []
  21. Gat, A. (2006). War in human civilization. New York: Oxford University Press. []
  22. Chagnon, N.A. (1988). Life histories, blood revenge, and warfare in a tribal population. Science, 239, 985-992. []
  23. LeBlanc, S. and Register, K.E. (2003). Constant battles: The myth of the peaceful, noble savage. New York: St. Martin’s Press. []
  24. Flannery, K.V. (1972). The cultural evolution of civilizations. Annual review of ecology and systematic, 3, 399-426. []
  25. Carniero, R.L. (1970). A theory of the origin of the state. Science, 169, 733-738. []
  26. Fukuyama, F. (2011). The origins of political order: From prehuman times to the French Revolution. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. []
  27. Wade, N. (2009). The faith instinct: How religion evolved and why it endures. New York: Penguin. []
  28. It is important, however, to note that religious narratives can also be used to attack state power, as is evidenced by the history of early Christianity and the subsequent developments of liberation theology; see, for example, Stark, R. (1996). The rise of Christianity: How the obscure, marginal Jesus movement became the dominant religious force in the Western world in a few centuries. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. []
  29. Machiavelli, N. (1532/2005). The prince. New York: Penguin. []
  30. Hobsbawm, E. (1962/1996). The age of revolution: 1789-1848. New York: Vintage Books. []
  31. Paine, T. (1791/1984). Rights of man. New York: Penguin. []
  32. This is not to say that there was no improvement in social conditions. The extent that morality progresses is debatable, but we remain hopeful. []
  33. Hobsbawm, E. (1992). Nations and nationalism since 1780: Programme, myth, reality. New York: Cambridge University Press. []
  34. Wallerstein, I. (1995). After liberalism. New York: The New Press. []
  35. Geary, P.J. (2002). The myth of nations: The Medieval origins of Europe. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. []
  36. Quote from McLuhan, M. []
  37. J. Anderson Thomson & Clare Aukofer (July 18, 2011). Science and religion: God didn’t make man; man made gods. Los Angeles Times. []
  38. Boyer, P. (2001). Religion explained: The evolutionary origins of religious thought. New York: Basic Books. []
  39. Barrett, J.L. (2004). Why would anyone believe in god? Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press. []
  40. Domhoff, G.W. (2010). Who rules America? Challenges to corporate and class dominance (6th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill. []
  41. Winters, J. (2011). Oligarchy. New York: Cambridge University Press. []
  42. Joe Stiglitz (May, 2011). Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%. Vanity Fair. []
  43. Dinesh D’souza (April, 2002). In praise of American empire. Christian Science Monitor. []
  44. George W. Bush (Nov 13, 2008). Bush’s speech on the economic crisis, November 2008. Council on Foreign Relations. []
  45. Larry Kudlow (February 28, 2008). Obama’s Big-Government Vision. Townhall. []
  46. These words are taken from Obama’s supposedly devastating 2002 speech against going to war with Iraq. Since that speech he has, of course, “tempered” his criticisms. Note that he never once says that going to war would be a crime or an act of aggression. Rather, it would be rash and dumb. See, Barak Obama (October, 2002). Speech Against the Iraq War delivered at the Federal Plaza in Chicago. []
  47. George Shadroui (September 6, 2004). Dissecting Chomsky and Anti-Americanism. Intellectual Conservative. []
  48. Voltaire quote. []
  49. Richard Dawkins (September 15, 2001). Religion’s misguided missiles. The Gaurdian. []
  50. Ginges, J., Hansen, I., & Norenzayan, A. (2009). Religion and support for suicide attacks. Psychological Science, 20, 224-230. []
  51. Sam Harris (February 16, 2006). Who are the Moderate Muslims? Huffington Post. [] [] [] []
  52. Harris, S. (2004). The end of faith: Religion, terror, and the future of reason. New York: Norton: 138. []
  53. Harris, S. (2004). The end of faith: Religion, terror, and the future of reason. New York: Norton: 138-147. []
  54. Harris, S. (2004). The end of faith: Religion, terror, and the future of reason. New York: Norton: 142. []
  55. Harris, S. (2004). The end of faith: Religion, terror, and the future of reason. New York: Norton: 146. []
  56. Zogby Internationl (accessed July 21, 2011). Arab Attitudes, 2011. []
  57. PBS Caught in the Crossfire (accessed July 22, 2011). []
  58. Sam Harris (March 21, 2008). What Barack Obama Could Not (and Should Not) Say. Huffington Post. []
  59. Paul Street (November 4, 2008). Barack Obama as a Ruling Class Candidate. ZNet. []
  60. Sam Harris (accessed July 24, 2011). Science Must Destroy Religion. Edge. []
  61. Sam Harris (December 1, 2004). Mired in a Religious War. Washington Times. []

Bo Winegard is a graduate student at Florida State University studying social psychology under Dr. Roy Baumeister. He is interested in political justice, self-deception, political psychology, evolutionary psychology, art, literature, classical film and baseball. Bo can be reached at: Nietzche_48838@yahoo.com. Ben Winegard is a graduate student studying evolutionary and developmental psychology at the University of Missouri. He has published peer-reviewed articles on sports fandom and female body dissatisfaction. He also has an interest in radical politics and activism. Ben can be reached at: bmw8vb@mail.missouri.edu. Read other articles by Bo Winegard and Ben Winegard.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Scientific Pantheism or Pancaptism

Irregular Times

World Pantheism Or Pancaptism?

The World Pantheist Movement forms itself around the following Belief Statement, which defines what it calls Scientific Pantheism:

nautilus spiral symbol

1. We revere and celebrate the Universe as the totality of being, past, present and future. It is self-organizing, ever-evolving and inexhaustibly diverse. Its overwhelming power, beauty and fundamental mystery compel the deepest human reverence and wonder.

2. All matter, energy, and life are an interconnected unity of which we are an inseparable part. We rejoice in our existence and seek to participate ever more deeply in this unity through knowledge, celebration, meditation, empathy, love, ethical action and art.

3. We are an integral part of Nature, which we should cherish, revere and preserve in all its magnificent beauty and diversity. We should strive to live in harmony with Nature locally and globally. We acknowledge the inherent value of all life, human and non-human, and strive to treat all living beings with compassion and respect.

4. All humans are equal centers of awareness of the Universe and nature, and all deserve a life of equal dignity and mutual respect. To this end we support and work towards freedom, democracy, justice, and non-discrimination, and a world community based on peace, sustainable ways of life, full respect for human rights and an end to poverty.

5. There is a single kind of substance, energy/matter, which is vibrant and infinitely creative in all its forms. Body and mind are indivisibly united.

6. We see death as the return to nature of our elements, and the end of our existence as individuals. The forms of “afterlife” available to humans are natural ones, in the natural world. Our actions, our ideas and memories of us live on, according to what we do in our lives. Our genes live on in our families, and our elements are endlessly recycled in nature.

7. We honor reality, and keep our minds open to the evidence of the senses and of science’s unending quest for deeper understanding. These are our best means of coming to know the Universe, and on them we base our aesthetic and religious feelings about reality.

8. Every individual has direct access through perception, emotion and meditation to ultimate reality, which is the Universe and Nature. There is no need for mediation by priests, gurus or revealed scriptures.

9. We uphold the separation of religion and state, and the universal human right of freedom of religion. We recognize the freedom of all pantheists to express and celebrate their beliefs, as individuals or in groups, in any non-harmful ritual, symbol or vocabulary that is meaningful to them.

This statement represents a great deal of my perspective on the world, although I wouldn’t say that I “revere” the Universe, or that I know of any single energy/matter substance which is “infinitely creative” in all its forms.

I might call myself a Pantheist, in spite of such quibbles, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m not a theist. The word theist is rooted in the word theos comes out of the ancient Greek language. Theos refers to divinities or to the realm of divinity.

Both divinities and divinity seem implausible to me, and even if they existed, they would be by nature unknowable and untouchable. Therefore, they’d not be worth bothering with – and of importance to the discussion of Pantheism, divinity and divinities would be inherently supernatural, and therefore not fitting within the conceptual system that Pantheism claims for itself.

Language matters, because it’s the tool that humans have developed for expressing ideas in concrete form. It’s important that we’re precise in using this tool, and that’s why I won’t call myself a Pantheist.

I could, on the other hand, describe myself as a Pancaptist. What would a Pancaptist be? Think of it as significantly similar to the perspective ascribed to by the World Pantheist Movement, but without the dead weight of theism, and containing the idea of Captism as well.

Captism, as I conceive it, is based upon the old Latin term captus, which contains a double meaning that is still contained in our word capture. There’s an element of grabbing and containment in captus, but also another meaning, that of deep comprehension. That’s the sense of the word capture that we mean when we say that something “captures an idea”, and it’s that sense of captus that is the foundation of Captism.

Pancaptism is the passion for discovering, capturing, and contemplating the deep meaning and mystery found in the objects and energies of the material world. Pancaptism rejects the anti-materialism shared by most religious people, but also rejects the superficial form of materialism displayed by those who embrace the material world without finding meaning in it.

Being Born Again As Brain Damage

Born Again—and Brain Damage

By Russ Baker on Jun 9, 2011

Study finds connection between being Born Again and Memory Loss

A new study from Duke University researchers concludes that the Born Again experience may be connected in some way with shrinkage of a part of the brain, possibly caused by stress.

Significantly greater hippocampal atrophy was observed for participants reporting a life-changing religious experience.

“Hippocampal atrophy” involves the deterioration of the brain segment involved with retention and retrieval of information. In other words, short term and long term memory (plus the ability to navigate.)

Significantly greater hippocampal atrophy was also observed from baseline to final assessment among born-again Protestants, Catholics, and those with no religious affiliation, compared with Protestants not identifying as born-again. These associations were not explained by psychosocial or demographic factors, or baseline cerebral volume. Hippocampal volume has been linked to clinical outcomes, such as depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease. The findings of this study indicate that hippocampal atrophy in late life may be uniquely influenced by certain types of religious factors.

Since the process of being reborn spiritually involves a kind of cleaning of the slate, of starting over, it somehow seems appropriate that it also involves a cleansing of memory.

This was of particular interest to me because in my book, Family of Secrets, I presented new documentation that George W. Bush may have been making a political calculation when he declared himself “Born Again.” This from Chapter 19, “The Conversion”:

[W]ith his entry into Bible study, Bush was reinventing himself. It was a politically savvy idea, but, in truth, it was not his own. It appears that it was neither George W.’s Midland friends nor the Reverend Billy Graham who helped him see the light. It was Doug Wead, marketing man. Before Bush sought to establish his credentials with the religious right—during his father’s vice presidency—Wead had written the Bushes a memo stressing the potential political benefits of preaching to that particular choir…Wead wrote up everything he could think of about the evangelical movement—who they were, how they thought and why they thought that way, and how to cater to them…[Wead said] I hadn’t met W. yet, but he knew me because he was getting all these memos, and he was basically saying, ‘Dad, this is right. This is what people in Midland think. My born- again friends say this. He’s right.’ “When I finally met W., [he said] ‘I’ve read all of your stuff—it’s great stuff.’ He said, ‘We’re going to get this thing going.’ ”… Wead had warned the Bushes that they had to be careful how they couched their conversion story. It couldn’t be seen as something too radical or too tacky…

Putting aside the cynicism that may have been involved, it is certainly true that George W. Bush also faced a lot of pressure having to do with his business failures and his famed marathon partying activities. So it’s interesting to note Duke researchers’ speculation on what may be causing this pattern, as summed up by Scientific American:

The authors offer the hypothesis that the greater hippocampal atrophy in selected religious groups might be related to stress. They argue that some individuals in the religious minority, or those who struggle with their beliefs, experience higher levels of stress. This causes a release of stress hormones that are known to depress the volume of the hippocampus over time. This might also explain the fact that both non-religious as well as some religious individuals have smaller hippocampal volumes.

If this is correct, the Born Again experience may involve more than overcoming unpleasant memories—it may erase memories of all kinds. So when Bush claimed not to remember details of his military service, or about decisions he made regarding Iraq and other controversies, he might just have been telling the truth.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The quest to build the perfect lie detector



The quest to build the perfect lie detector

Since 9/11, researchers have been racing to replace the polygraph. Now they're getting close -- and it's scary

The quest to build the perfect lie detector
This article is a condensed excerpt from "The Neurotourist: Postcards From the Edge of Brain Science" by Lone Frank, new from OneWorld Publications.

Where there are people, there are lies. The theory of Machiavellian intelligence claims that our capacity to deceive was developed by virtue of our distant ancestors’ way of life and refined as their primate brains grew and developed more complex structures. Our closest relatives indicate that, from an evolutionary point of view, it has to do with the youngest part of the brain, that outer layer of coiling tissue called the neocortex, which takes up nearly eighty percent of human brain volume. The Scottish primatologist Richard Byrne and his partner Nadia Corp of the University of St. Andrews have explored the brains and behaviors of eighteen species of primates, and they found a striking connection. The larger the animal’s neocortex, the better they were at deceiving their fellow primates in everyday situations.

Homo sapiens lies all the time. As individuals, we discover the nature of the lie at around the age of three or four and, from then on, it is a natural companion without which only very few can imagine living. You can’t really conceive of a modern, well-functioning society without the lie.

Finding a sure-fire method for revealing lies and deceit is, of course, an age-old dream. And all cultures have had their own traditions and folklore on how to identify the perpetrators. The polygraph, which is an American invention dating back to 1913, is not used much in Europe. In many countries, it is not deemed to provide reliable evidence. In the US, on the other hand, it is used frequently by defense attorneys, prosecutors and police and, according to a Supreme Court decision, it is up to the individual judge whether polygraph data may be used as evidence in a case. The lie detector, however, is under intense attack as ineffectual. There are even organizations – for example AntiPolygraph.org – that are campaigning to scrap the apparatus altogether because of its lack of scientific grounding.

The psychologist Paul Ekman, who is now professor emeritus at the University of California in San Francisco, spent most of his career gaining expertise on how lying is reflected in facial expressions. He developed a Facial Action Coding System, which categorizes thousands of nuanced facial expressions that can be created by combinations of forty-three independent facial muscles.

But both the polygraph and reading faces are external solutions. With the new scanning methods, there has come a hope of getting beyond these indirect measures to the source of the lie itself, namely, the brain. And it must be said that the movement has been surprisingly vigorous. The first feeble experiments were done around the turn of the millennium by psychiatrist Daniel Langleben, who was then affiliated with Stanford University, in the process of studying how certain types of drugs affected the brains of hyperactive children. By chance, during his work, he ran into the theory that one side effect of their disorder was that these children had difficulty lying. He was sure that the specific kids he knew could lie perfectly well. However, they might sometimes have trouble keeping the truth under wraps, creating problems for themselves in social contexts. Langleben got the idea of looking more closely at the lie’s various stages of development.

His theory was that, in order to tell a lie, we have to undertake several independent mental operations. On one hand, the brain has to prevent the truth from slipping out and, on the other, it has to construct the lie itself and serve it to the world in place of the truth. Langleben believed that you had to be able to observe this dual book-keeping in a brain scanning as activity in various circuits. The lie, in other words, had to leave a physiological trace behind.

To test the idea, he didn’t call in hyperactive children but ordinary university students, whom he instructed to lie about a particular playing card. They were given the five of clubs in an envelope and then went into an MRI scanner, where they were supposed to push a button "yes" or "no" to indicate a match, in response to a series of playing cards displayed, one by one, on a screen. The inducement was that they would win twenty dollars, if they lied so convincingly that the machine couldn’t catch them. But as demonstrated in the article that was later published, the students weren’t very good at it. Even their innocent lie about a playing card left a clear imprint.

What immediately stood out for the researchers was that the lie showed increased activity in the whole prefrontal cortex; an indication that there was more thinking activity and cognitive work to lying than telling the truth. There were also special regions that stood out. The researchers put particular emphasis on the anterior cingulate cortex, whose function is still being debated but presumably plays a role when we deal with conflicting information. At any rate, it becomes highly active in the classic Stroop test, where people are presented with a series of words that describe one color but are printed in another. When the research subject is asked to say what color the ink is, they often choke and say instead the word that’s written and, while they do it, their anterior cingulate cortex rings the alarm bell.

Daniel Langleben was hooked, and when he moved to the University of Pennsylvania, he continued his work with modified lie scenarios. In his second experiment, the participants could actively choose whether they wanted to lie to the nice researchers. At a general level, the results were comparable – parts of the brain revealed that lying took place – but it was less clear whether you could talk about a definitive mapping of the lie’s anatomy.

In the meantime researchers in Great Britain and Hong Kong produced their own independent studies of the phenomenon, and they all showed a clear difference between a lie and the truth in the individual research subject. But the experiments themselves were slightly different in their conceptualization, and there were likewise differences in exactly which areas of the brain were activated during the exercises.

At Harvard, psychologist Stephen Kosslyn began thinking about the matter, and he concluded that the provisional hypothesis was far too simple to describe reality. Lies and deceit can take infinitely many forms, and it does not necessarily seem obvious that the brain should treat them all in the same way. It feels different, for example, to come up with something on the spot as opposed to delivering a carefully considered falsehood.

And this is where Kosslyn struck. He wanted to directly compare the results from experiments with spontaneous lies à la Langleben and rehearsed stories that his research subjects had plenty of time to learn. They came to the experiment with their own account of a vacation about which Kosslyn asked them to change certain points. He suggested, perhaps, having the vacation take place somewhere else or coming up with a fictive companion. After a few hours of repetition, all twenty voluntary liars were put into the scanner, where they answered questions about their vacation experiences.

Totally in keeping with Kosslyn’s suspicions, there were differences between the two types of lie. For one thing, it was clear that the rehearsed lie did not involve the anterior cingulate cortex as much as a spontaneous deception. At the same time, there were striking differences in how memory resources were involved.

Seen through Stephen Kosslyn’s prism, researchers have only scratched the outermost frosting on the cake of deceit, and he has argued that an understanding of the phenomenon requires far more intensive research, attacking the problem from many angles. He says that to gain genuine insight into the mechanics of the lie will require us to delve deeper into fundamental phenomena such as memory and sensation.

However, while Kosslyn was thinking in complex terms, the growing interest in lies was no longer merely academic. At the US Defense Department, the field had been acutely deprioritized, almost hidden away, for years, but then the agency had its eyes opened in the wake of the catastrophe of 9/11. Now it was suddenly of vital importance to be able to evaluate the credibility of sources and statements, but unfortunately they lacked the equipment for it. The Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) have followed suit and loosened their purse strings for research on lying.

Darpa, for example, has given support to Daniel Langleben, who, after his first studies, quickly decided to get rid of the academic hair-splitting and get down to developing a functional lie detector. With the experiences of the polygraph in mind, one of his goals was to create a format that was free of subjective interpretation. A data processor that is, so to speak, untouched by human hands. He realized this by developing a set of algorithms that could determine when the person in the scanner was lying or telling the truth. Andrew Kozel of the Medical University of South Carolina came up with the same idea and in 2003 published his own algorithms that could distinguish lies from truth in controlled experiments. Both instances involved computer programs that could analyze the data on brain activity from MRI scanners without human mediation and point out when the activity indicated a lie.

According to the DoDPI, there are currently about fifty laboratories in the US alone working in one way or another on understanding and detecting lies – using not only fMRI technology but different forms of EEG, for example. Recently, psychologist Jennifer Vendemia at the University of South Carolina tested – with five million dollars from the DoDPI – almost seven hundred students with EEG measurements. She put them in a hood containing 128 electrodes placed to cover their scalp, and registered the electrical charges that came in the form of diverse brain waves. What interests Vendemia about the lie are so-called event-related potentials, ERPs, which are brain waves unleashed by particular stimuli.

If, for example, you show a person something visual, that person will, after 300–400 milliseconds, register a nice ERP, as an expression that "something" is happening in the brain such as a thought or increased attention. The EEG, unlike scanning, does not provide good spatial information, but it is much better at providing information about time. A functional MRI scanning only provides a picture every other second, while the electrodes on the scalp can register changes down to a thousandth of a second.

And it is in these time differences that Jennifer Vendemia’s results may be found. In her experiments, she typically presents the research subject with some short statements that are either true or false and coded in two colors. Every time the statement is red, the person is to answer "true," while the required answer is "false," when the little sentence is printed in blue. However, the cards are set up in a way so that both red and blue statements can either be true or false. The research subjects answer as they should, but their ERP pattern reveals that they are stating a lie. If you get a red statement “A snake has thirteen legs” and answer “true,” it takes 200 milliseconds longer to answer, and the ERP signal is stronger in regions in the middle and top part of the head. Roughly speaking, the MRI experiments also point toward some of these areas.

Jennifer Vendemia doesn’t think her method can be hoodwinked by good liars. At any rate, she has looked at the extent to which practice can change the extra reaction time and found that even trained liars have exactly the same ERP pattern as pure novices. Her most interesting claim, though, is that her measurements can predict a lie before the liar has decided on it. Thus, she sees the first changes in the person’s EEG about 250 milliseconds after the statement appears on the computer screen, while it takes between 400 and 600 milliseconds before the pattern showing a decision appears.

There is a third player up in Seattle, Lawrence Farwell, whose Brain Fingerprinting Laboratories is marketing his own Brain Fingerprinting method. Like Vendemia, it is an EEG technology, but Farwell uses an electrode-studded headband instead of a hood, and he concentrates on the so-called p300 brain wave, which is a part of the overall ERP pattern. What he is testing is the extent to which a person recognizes a given stimulus. It can be anything from a telephone number to a picture of a decrepit summer house in the country. And the principle is that something you have seen before unleashes a characteristic electrical response between 300 and 800 milliseconds after it is presented. In EEG readings, you can see the p300 wave as a clear peak on a curve with smaller waves and, with his own patented algorithm, Farwell believes he can detect a lie with nothing less than one hundred percent certainty. In his sales materials, he states that he has tested the technique on two hundred research subjects in projects financed by the CIA and the FBI; but, in published articles, it is down to six research subjects.

Farwell and his headband have appeared on all the big TV stations in the US, but Brain Fingerprinting has also had its debut in the courtroom. In 2000, a District Court in Iowa conducted a hearing to determine whether Terry Harrington, who had been convicted of murder in 1978, could have his case reopened. Hired by the defense attorney, Farwell tested Harrington by showing him pictures of the murder site, and he testified that the convicted man had never seen it before, according to his p300 results. Then the only witness in the case admitted to having lied about seeing Harrington at the murder site, and the judgment was ultimately reversed. In connection with the hearing, there was an eight-hour long discussion about the extent to which Brain Fingerprinting could be admitted in court and, in 2001,the judge determined that the test lived up to the legal standards for scientific evidence.

Some also believe there are signs that MRI technology is not far from being admissible. At any rate, in 2005 the US Supreme Court determined against the execution of minors, a decision partially grounded on MRI studies that show that, in many regions, the brains of young people do not function like hardened adult brains.

Yet, even as MRI-driven lying research has been transformed into product development and marketing in record time, there are a few worriers on the sidelines shouting concerns. Sociologist Paul Root Wolpe, a professor of bioethics at Emory University, imagines a violent counter-reaction from the general public. Wolpe believes that many will quite simply see the technology as a piece of creepy science fiction reminiscent of mind-reading and surveillance à la Orwell’s "1984." He speaks indefatigably for an open, popular debate on the subject.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU, agrees. They are particularly nervous that a new, sexy technology to detect lies will be misused under the aegis of the war on terror. In the spring of 2006, the ACLU held a symposium at Stanford University, at which selected researchers, philosophers and other observers gave their interpretation of the matter, and subsequently they asked for access to records from the American government. They wanted to give the public an insight into how huge the funding is for research into MRI and other lie detector technologies.

Even in Europe, we’ve heard an echo of this discussion. In 2005, a few hundred invited citizens and neuroscientists met at the Meeting of Minds conference in Brussels, where they discussed the future significance of brain research and knowledge about the brain. One of the problems discussed was the possibility of "mind-reading." Specifically, Brain Fingerprinting was discussed, and several prominent scientists expressed fundamental ethical concerns about the potential for this type of technology to invade our inner space. When you open up the brain’s processes in this way, you violate, in a heavy-handed way, the individual’s right to keep his or her thoughts and feelings private.

Lone Frank is an award-winning journalist, science writer, and TV presenter. She holds a Ph.D. in neurobiology, and has worked as a research scientist in Denmark and the U.S.

Excerpted from "The Neurotourist: Postcards From the Edge of Brain Science" by Lone Frank, published by Oneworld. All rights reserved.