Michael Gazzaniga: The Criminal Brain
Michael S. Gazzaniga is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he heads the new SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind. He is one of the leading researchers in cognitive neuroscience, the study of the neural basis of mind. In 1961, Gazzaniga graduated from Dartmouth College. In 1964, he received a Ph.D. in psychobiology from the California Institute of Technology, where he worked under the guidance of Roger Sperry, with primary responsibility for initiating human split-brain research. In his subsequent work he has made important advances in our understanding of functional lateralization in the brain and how the cerebral hemispheres communicate with one another. Gazzaniga's publication career includes books for a general audience The Social Brain, Mind Matters, and Nature's Mind. His most recent book Who’s In Charge investigates the question of free will in light of current neuroscience.
Michael Gazzaniga: So let’s say brain science in 15, 20 years really understands why a certain population of people, say psychopaths, behave the way they do. OK, we know it, we got it. And let’s say we have figured out a treatment for them. So you got the psychopath. He has done the crime. We hold him responsible. Now we’re at the decision. Do we treat him or put in the slammer? Right, because we now know if we can treat him they’re back to the normal population, they’re back doing normal things again. Does that satisfy in us the sense of justice that should be done to this person? Does that satisfy our built in sense of retribution, which I think humans have in spades? Can people live with the fact that somebody who carried out a crime against their family or their body or their property is just simply fix the guy so he doesn’t do that stuff anymore - or do they want this other component and does that other component?
That is the discussion we should be having. We shouldn’t be confusing the fact that someone with a slight or even a serious brain disorder, are they responsible or not. We should have the legal category in our country, which we don’t: guilty but insane, not not guilty because insane. We should get the responsibility issue clear and then as a society we have to decide well what are we going to do about that person and just think how interesting it gets.
I think our time would be better spent trying to sort that out because I think down the pike there will be treatments. There will be more effective treatments. The reason why it isn’t a burning issue now is because none of our so-called treatments or rehabs or what have you are that great. The recidivism rate just sits there around 63% no matter what you do. So there is just isolation of just put people in institutions of one kind or another.
I think by clearing up this responsibility question we focus on the real question of what does our society decide to do about this person and that’s a tough one.
Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd
So you got the psychopath. He has done the crime. We hold him responsible. Now we’re at the decision.
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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