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Dry as Dust Lecturing February 19, 2008

Posted by Administrator in atheism, Humor, Idiots, Pharyngulism.

(An unfinished bit I wrote some months ago.  I decided to publish it as is, with the understanding that it will remain unfinished.)

God help the biology students at University of Minnesota-Morris. I have heard the dreaded PZ Myers lecture. Christians of the US may rest easy. The man reaches a lot of people by his idiot blog, but once you hear him speak for real, boredom and ennui rapifly settle in. The one thing that kept me going was his occasional non sequitur bleats about how there are no angels to be found in the neuro-electrical activity of the brain.

This stimulates a form of interest, the same sort that might come about after been having trapped by the resident party bore, having cornered you and droned on uninterrupted for 20 minutes about the technical aspects of his exceedingly dreary job, thereby causing you to unfocus and begin daydreaming about maybe falling asleep in front of a TV documentary on catfish harvesting; when suddenly the party bore breaks out with an previously unsuspected case of Tourette’s, cursing the hostess at the top of his lungs and loudly proclaiming her deviant sexual practices. The usual response in such a situation would be the classic, “WTF???? Where did that come from?” So too it is PZ Myers. Droningly dull blather, punctuated by the occasional, completely un-related WTF moments.

Here, in Part 1 of a talk entitled “There Are No Ghosts in Your Brain”, Myers goes on at great length, though in relatively simplistic fashion, about the basics of neurophysiology; detailing the micro-neurophysiology of neuron function, and the macro-neurophysiology of brain mapping. In between, he briefly concedes that the ground between the micro- and macro-neurophysiology, exactly how these millions upon millions of neuronal pulses leads to motor control, sensory management and manifestation of the personality. It’s really a standard primer lecture on intro to neuroscience for the layman with no previous exposure to the subject. If you can get past his enormously boring lecturing voice, I suppose it serves the purpose. There is no doubt that Myers has a firm grasp of the science involved.

But the Tourette’s style, WTF moments come right after he gets done detailing the micro-neurophysiology, and again after outlining the macro-neurophysiology. In both cases, he then mutters, apropos of nothing, “See? There are no angels to be found here. It can all be explained through materialistic means.”

Why would we expect there to be angels involved there?

(It pays to keep in mind that he is addressing a meeting of the Minnesota Atheists; and his expectation is to prove through his lecture on neuroscience that there is no God. He has a audience loaded with sycophants who will nod vigorously at everything he says; at both his solidly grounded science and at his outre, bullshit ventings about how this proves there is no God.)

There is no expectation from Catholics, at any rate, that minute examinations within neuroscience would show angels dancing on the head of a dendrite. Yet PZ, in his demented exclamation that there is no God, claims that the failure of finding the angel where we would never expect to see it anyway proves there is no God.

He then goes on in his smartass fashion to suggest that the materialistic method as espoused by scientists is doing a much better job of understanding the brain than your neighborhood minister.

No kidding? To me, this is akin to suggesting that the local cook has been doing a much better job at processing, preparing and serving food than your local scientist. I should hope so. But this means that I then denigrate the scientist for not succeeding in managing food?



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