Notebook Entries, May 2001

Notebook entry, May 22, 2001

A very important and exciting article in Newsweek, May 5, 2001 issue: Religion and the Brain, by Sharon Begley, p. 49. The article introduces us into the serious work being done called "neurotheology": the study of the neurobiology of religion and spirituality.  These are those  mysterious and spiritual experiences that humankind has reported throughout the ages where people report a separation of reality and a sense of being in a state of spirituality.  To quote Begley, "Spiritual experiences are so consistent across cultures, across time and across faiths, says Wulff, [psychologist David Wulff of Wheaton College in Massachusetts], that it suggests a common core that is likely a reflection of structures and processes in the human brain." p.53  In the evolutionary parlance of Tooby and Cosmides, the "architecture of the brain."

The area that is drawing the most attention is the toward the top and back of the brain in the superior parietal lobe.  "This region, nicknamed the 'orientation association area,' processes information about space and time, and the orientation of the body in space.  It determines where the body ends and the rest of the world begins." p. 53.  The scientists believe that: "If you block sensory inputs to this region, as you do during the intense concentration of meditation, you prevent the brain from forming the distinction between self and not-self." p. 53.

I suppose the offshoot of this would be the study of "talking in tongues," and other religious niceties that religious zealots have placed in the way of progress.  Don't get me wrong, religion is an important element in human behavior, and will continue to play a major role, but it is also about time that it grows up and faces truths that it refuses to face.

Notebook entry, May 15, 2001

Well, I just finished reading Handbook of Emotions, 2nd Edition, and I must say that I was overwhelmed with the depth of knowledge found within. Despite the fact that it took me almost three months to read the book (while still working 45-53 hours a week at my day job), cover to cover, I literally could not put the book aside and start any other projects.  It has had a tremendous impact of my understanding the evolutionary perspective.  I came away from the book the distinct impression that emotions are the ebb and flow of human behavior; the glue keeps us back or the fuel to motivate us to higher achievements. I will have no other course but to study them in greater depth and begin to translate the Handbook  into simpler categories and semantics for the common person (In other words -- how I encode it in my brain and then explain it to others).  The project may take many years.

Notebook entry, May 5, 2001

Just a quick note to update a few items.  My book, Man in the Mist needs to be retyped and a table in Chapter Six on gender differences in the DSM-IV has to be reformatted. Since I do not have the time available, I would most likely farm out the work to some kind soul for a fee. Now, since I am currently booked into the conference of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society's meeting in London that is approaching in June, the bills for the trip are now being paid.  Bottom line -- the book stays online and not in paper until I get more funds available.  The only reason that I want it in paper form, is that my wife, Diana, wants to make a hard-bound special edition.  Vanity can wait; I just want the ideas to go forth out into the ether and perhaps get some positive feedback.