Thursday, October 20, 2005

rama lama ding dong

Alice sent along a link to a NY Times article about how the Dalai Lama is speaking at the annual neuroscience meeting. As I said before, this has got a lot of scientists really riled up. I think it sucks. There's no way he should have been asked to speak. However, I may go see it when I'm there just out of curiosity. Maybe when he says psuedo-scientific crap I can boo. I bet some people will cause a ruckus. Scientists can get pretty passionate about stuff like this and they're not shy about expressing their ideas. There will probably be protesters outside, too. They can hang out with the animal rights people.


Anonymous said...

Dear Heckasac,

Thank you for cleaning up the smut so I can log onto your blog for a much needed "break" from work. I enjoyed the family oriented article about Hooters. I shall be sure to take Grandma and Aunt Vicky there the next time we have a family outing.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, you’re right Beckers. Why would scientists want to understand the mind or get a different perspective on consciousness? What's next? Will science actually have to come to grips with its philosophical implications and cease feeling so smug and above all of the human experience? Shit, then we might actually live in a better world instead of a world with better gizmo's and ways to oppress the poor. On the bright side, at least all those neuro-nerds will get to meet the Dalai Lama, so at least they got that going for them.

Charles "I am sick of scientists misunderstanding what they are doing" Albright

beckler said...

charles-what are you talking about? clarify please. that paper is shoddy science. period. it lacked proper controls. i call "do over" on that research and then maybe i'll give it a look.

heckamax-do you want to go see john cale in sf? everyone's pussing out on me. he's playing the friday and saturday after thanksgiving. it's john motherfucking cale, people.

Anonymous said...

I heard the neurosience con was basically just a bunch of "scientists" playing with their new gizmos.


Anonymous said...

Good Caddyshack reference Charles! You've got that going for you, which is nice.

Beckler, I would be apprehensive to see John Cale....


beckler said...

I know, it could suck (and I recall it sucking when he opened for the Creatures at...the Crest!-which I snuck into back in the good old days) but I love him so much I just want to see him.

alice said...


i think what you said in the comments section of the previous post make a lot of sense. neuro-science is pretty new. and i think it's important to keep science rigorous if the findings of that field are going to mean anything to humanity--hopefully a brighter future.

that said, i get a bit knee-jerk about any religious movements getting their paws on science these days just because of how godamned religious this country has become. and it doesn't matter to me from which part of the world that religion comes from either or what they're saying. i still think that religious views on consciousness and human behavior need to be held in their own box and recognized as untested ideas. That's not to say their ideas won't prove to be acurate when tested, however. And I'm also not saying certain scientists abstain from conjecture either. you see it all the time in the newspapers--i'm particularly fed up with conjectural evolutionary explanations for social behaviors. i guess i take offense cause i studied history and i know that certain things just can't be studied or known when you're thinking about humanity before written documents or other forms of intelligible cultural expression.

so, yeah. i think the neuro scientists have reason to be a bit angry. i do think that it's a good idea to study meditation but from what i read in that ny times article, the findings don't seem very conclusive.

that said, blogger is playng a dirty trick on me by making the word verification for this post "lotus."

Anonymous said...

aw man, my post got eaten from a few hours ago. basically I was asking what is neuro-science and what are it's goals. I am just curious.


armeniac said...

discussing the physical effects of meditation makes sense to me. it can have nothing to do with religion. meditation does affect physical changes. what's wrong with figuring out how that happens. neuro science has tons of applications in the world, why lilmit it.
also in regards to mixing religion and science, p-a-lease!!! these dudes aren't trying to prove the founding fathers were all born again christians, they're studying the effect of meditation on the brain. that's dangerous?

beckler said...

Dalai Lama=not scientist

The meeting usually only has well respected scientist speak. Here are the oh-so-exciting lectures that went on last year:

If you have studied neuroscience you would be impressed with this roster of names. These people have devoted their lives to science and made groundbreaking discoveries. The Dalai Lama has not personally studied the effects of meditation on the brain, not in a scientific manner, anyways. He's meditated. Great. Maybe next year they can have a guy with Alzheimers be the expert speaker on the disease. The only tenuous support for having him speak has come from the aforementioned questionable study of the guy that's sponsering him as the speaker. Scientists are free to study the effects of meditation on the brain, and some are doing so with federal funding, and they are also free to present these results within the normal scientific channels, including peer-reviewed journals and by speaking at conferences, BUT the Dalai Lama will not be presenting scientific results or summarizing a career spent in science, he will just be rambling on about how great meditation is for the brain. That does not belong at a meeting of scientists. He can go to the big philosophy meeting and do that. Also, to top it all off, at least according to what I've read, he's having a question and answer session in which people write down the questions and he chooses which ones to answer. This is not appropriate for the meeting. Even the top scientists can be grilled by the lowliest undergrad at these things. That's a really cool thing about it. It doesn't matter how big you are, you have to answer for the validity of your results. The Dalai Lama rightly knows that he would be creamed under these circumstances, so he's pussing out.

alice said...


There's nothing dangerous about studying it. It's just not cool if you do one study without enough controls for the data to be meaningful and then invite someone who isn't a scientist to talk about that study. especially at a big meeting. i do want people to study meditation cuz i want to know what they find out. but, there should be more controls on the population studied, peer review and an actual scientist presenting at the conference.

jake said...


I'm right there with you on this one, except for one thing: Rambling on about how great meditation is for the brain has no place at the big philosophy conference either. Nor does a canned Q&A.

So you're coming to DC? Any plans to visit the northeast?

Anonymous said...

You didn't answer my question. What is neuroscience and what is it suppossed to do?

Furthermore, wouldn't the the overall goals, plans, meaning of neuroscience be something that is talked about at this convention? If not then could someone tell me what they are or explain to me how you go about doing and activity for which you don't know how or why you do it. Could possibly inviting the Dali Lama and having him speak be seen as an olive branch or at least trying to understand a whole other group of people's way to understand the mind, how it acts and what it does? Couldn't that be vaulable to neuroscience?

Perhaps having him speak in the capacity as some of the recogized acamdemics is a faux pas on the part of the convention planners, but everyone seems to be so cavillier about him clearly not fitting in with the point of the convention. I don't see that. I understand the man is not a scientist but what I don't undertstand is why no one can remeber what the point of science really is. Cures and Plasma screen TV's? I think that it is true that science has gone so far free from having to constanly worry "what it all means" but how do we guide our quest when we don't know where we are going?

Charles "What the Bleep do we know" Albright

Anonymous said...

What exactly is the point of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame? And couldn't inducting Michael Bolton be seen as an olive branch to soft rock listeners everywhere?


Anonymous said...

well, if someone told you the point of the rock and roll hall of fame, mr. doesn't-reply-to-his-e-mails, we could figure out to what capacity Mr. Bolton would have in said hall of fame. Furthermore, if you are comparing Micheal Bolton to the Dali Lama you have sunk to a new low. Next you will be playing in a band with me.


Anonymous said...

Just thought since you actually KNOW a little about Rock N Roll, it may underscore the absurdity of the situation a little better.

You'd think in this day & age that there would be some tool that you could use if you wanted to find out about something like neuroscience. Maybe someday. Til then, it's just Becky.

Oh shit, Eric Clapton just emailed me back explaining the point of the RNR Hall Of Fame! Finally! I gotta go.

Anonymous said...

so i'm guessing the DL was chosen to speak just to get some media attention for this event, and clearly it worked. in these days of competition between sciences for grant money, getting neuroscience in the public eye was probably foremost in the planners' minds. it would be nice if science rather than money drove these things, but that's just not the way it is.