After yesterday’s optimistic utopian visions, it is only fair to provide some balance with the reviews of two book that have more skeptical outlooks. Both authors are reaching the end of long careers and are firing warning shots across the bows of future generations.
Steven Rose asks some searching questions of neuroscience in his new book, The 21st Century Brain: Explaining, Mending and Manipulating the Mind. Rose is unimpressed with the way modern neuroscience pokes around randomly in the hope of stumbling on useful drugs and brain mechanisms. He criticises the ‘laughably crude’ models of the brain that neuroscience employs. To this I only have the age-old retort: Does he have a better idea?
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Meanwhile, Dr. Peter C. Whybrow criticises our materialistic culture. In, American Mania: When More Is Not Enough, Whybrow’s central ideas is that in our search for money, we are ignoring the one thing that can truly make us happy: our relationships with other people. He suggests that each individual needs to take a close look at their lives and see what comes first, money or people. The sad thing is that we frequently delude ourselves about our priorities – while the majority will say people come first, they still behave as if it is money. It’s probably hard-wired.
The New York Times review of Dr. Peter C. Whybrow’s book
The Guardian Review review of Steven Rose’s book