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Dorothy Rowe Wronged, also Wrong

Neuroskeptic iconNeuroskepticBy NeuroskepticJanuary 15, 2009 12:32 AM


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(Via Bad Science) Here's the curious story of what happened when clinical psychologist Dorothy Rowe was interviewed for a BBC radio show about religion. She gave a 50 minute interview in which she said that religion was bad. The BBC, in their wisdom, edited this down to 2 minutes of audio which made her sound as if she was saying religion was good. She was annoyed, and complained. The BBC admitted that they'd misrepresented her and apologized. Naughty.

But that's not the point of this post. Because the BBC not only offered Rowe an apology, they also agreed to let her write about what she really believes and put it up on Here is the result. Oh dear. It's, well, it's confused.

"Neuroscience proves the existence of free will" would be an extraordinary media headline, and, perhaps even more extraordinary, it would be true.

No it wouldn't Rowe - it wouldn't even mean anything. It gets worse from there on in. Read it if you can, but it's pretty bad. Not Bono-bad, but bad, especially in the way that she inserts references to the brain and to neuroscience seemingly at random which add literally nothing to her argument. Her argument being that we interpret reality, rather than directly percieving it. Which is true enough, but that idea's been around since the time of ancient Greece, where the cutting edge of neuroscience was the theory that the brain was made of semen. It's philosophy, not neuroscience.

This kind of neuro-fetishism happens a lot nowadays, but what's really weird is that Rowe is one of those psychologists who is convinced that depression (and indeed all mental illness) is not a "brain problem". Even one such as she clearly isn't immune to the lure of neuroscience explanations.


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