The Truth About The Left Brain / Right Brain Relationship : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR
Originally posted on The Dish:
This week, the National Institutes of Health released a report on the future of neuroscience, which Gary Marcus calls “the first substantive step in developing President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative.” Marcus considers the report’s nine outlined goals:
The most important goal, in my view, is buried in the middle of the list at No. 5, which seeks to link human behavior with the activity of neurons. This is more daunting than it seems: scientists have yet to even figure out how the relatively simple, three-hundred-and-two-neuron circuitry of the C. Elegans worm works, in part because there are so many possible interactions that can take place between sets of neurons. A human brain, by contrast, contains approximately eighty-six billion neurons.
To progress, we need to learn how to combine the insights of molecular biochemistry, which has come to dominate the lowest reaches of neuroscience, with the study of computation and cognition, which have moved to the forefront of fields such as cognitive psychology.
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A DEBT forgiveness scheme to relieve homeowners in mortgage distress would cost “in the region of €5-€6 billion”, UCD professor of economics Morgan Kelly has said.
In a keynote address to the Irish Society of New Economists in Dublin yesterday, Prof Kelly delivered what he described as some “good news”.
“We are talking sums in the region of €5 billion to €6 billion which would be necessary to spend on mortgage forgiveness, which by our standards are not very large,” he said.
You read it here first, folks!
February 11, 2011 Shane O’Mara
The crime debate in the UK was dominated by the phrase ‘short, sharp, shock’, which relied on the folk theory that quick and severe punishment would shock teenagers out of criminal tendencies. (The pleasing alliteration of the successive sibilants was an important, but useless, selling point too). Short, sharp shocks, of course, predictably have no such effect, but why let data from the psychology of punishment and from criminology influence debate?
The phrase ‘cut and run’ was used to forestall debate about the palpably-failing US military strategy in Iraq, until empirical reality forced a change of direction.
The debate in Ireland over privatisation uses phrases designed to prevent discussion, such as ‘selling off the family silver ware’* or, much less analytically, that privatisation is ‘stupid’ (Ex-Minister Ryan). Who wants to be stupid? O course silver plates aren’t much good if you don’t have the food to eat from them. In the UK, the privatisation debate is about how a ‘war chest’ can be created for stimulus purposes. The consequences of the language used about privatisation frames very different outcomes. Unless one believes that the current configuration of Government ownership of assets is exactly optimal (an unfalsifiable position), then privatisation is reasonable to consider. It is our capital after all, and can be used to solve problems. By some estimates, the ESB is worth about €7.5 B**; there are perhaps 750,000 mortgages in the country. Privatisation would allow the quick writing down of these mortgages by €100,000 a piece, relieving enormous and growing distress, and giving the banks additional working capital to relieve other logjams in the economy. I am sure there are a thousand good reasons why this policy can’t be enacted, but there are 750,000 reasons why it could. And it is our money anyway, isn’t it?!
*This remark is in comment # 1, not the article itself, which makes a good argument against privatisations. However, things have changed a bit since August 3rd.
**I can’t find where I read this estimate, but there are relevant numbers here.
The full series is available as an article: Where did it all go wrong article in pdf.