Nation of Beancounters

Against bad metaphors in neuroscience

Posted in Uncategorized by Navin Kumar on March 6, 2013

The brain considered in itself, independently of the mind, does not process information or send signals or receive messages, any more than the heart does; people do, and the brain is the underlying mechanism that enables them to do so. It is simply false to say that one neuron literally “sends a signal” to another; what it does is engage in certain chemical and electrical activities that are causally connected to genuine informational activities.

Contemporary brain science is thus rife with unwarranted homunculus talk, presented as if it were sober established science. We have discovered that nerve fibers transmit electricity. We have not, in the same way, discovered that they transmit information. We have simply postulated this conclusion by falsely modeling neurons on persons.

He calls it “homonculism”. More here.

Tagged with: , ,


Posted in Uncategorized by Navin Kumar on February 24, 2013

1. The downside of police sensitivity to women’s issues. Trade-offs everywhere.

2. Scambaiting.

3. How does the language you speak affect the way you think?

4. Rituals and bonding.

5. A portrait of Napolean Chagon, controversial anthropologist. “Indiana Jones has nothing on me.” Also, the portrait of a discipline under postmodernism. And people wonder why we use so much math!


Posted in Uncategorized by Navin Kumar on February 18, 2013

1. There is no great stagnation in chess pieces. Nor in batteries.

2. Why are some companies flat and others hierarchical?

3. Noah Smith on David Graeber. “After writing a 500-page book about 5000 years of debt, David Graeber should be an expert on the topic. Yet his pronouncements on the subject are vague or seemingly contradictory…” You can find me on David Graeber here.

4. The quotations you read in newspapers and magazines aren’t actually quotations.

5. More biology vs sociology. Love the premise: “the most attractive members of each sex are the ones with the widest range of options, and therefore that their behavior more closely reflects each sex’s actual preferences”

Bollywood goes protectionist

Posted in Uncategorized by Navin Kumar on November 2, 2011

Bollywood producers are lobbying for a ban on Hollywood (read: english) films being dubbed into Hindi.

[Producer Mahesh] Bhatt said, “There are similar apprehensions in Bollywood and everyone is planning to come together and fight this practice of Hollywood films being dubbed in Hindi or Tamil. We cannot allow them to have a right over our mother tongue and use it to their advantage just because they have the budget. Hollywood studios have big budgets for promotions and we can never match that. Hindi film producers are now planning to come together against this. Letters have been written to the I&B ministry secretary in the past also, and I can say with full certainty that something similar is on the cards now. We face similar issues in other states at times. For instance, I cannot get my movie dubbed in Bengali.”

I like how it’s framed as a cultural issue – can’t let those Westerners have a “right to our mother tongue”! – rather than a way for Bhatt to stifle competition and makes some extra money for himself.

Who’s against it? Cinema owners:

Deepak Sharma of PVR Cinemas says, “This is not a practical move … When there is no Hindi content in cinemas, it’s usually English films or English films dubbed in Hindi that get patrons to cinemas. So the cinema lobby will never agree to this.”

File under “non-tariff barriers to trade”.