Tall Tales about the Mind & Brain

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<ul><li><p>8/6/2019 Tall Tales about the Mind &amp; Brain</p><p> 1/1</p><p>The Royal Society of Edinburgh</p><p>Tall Tales about the Mind &amp; Brain</p><p>Lecture Wednesday 5 September 2007 at the RSE</p><p>Speakers: Professor Michael C Corballis, Department of Psychology, University ofAuckland and Professor James E Alcock, Department of Psychology, University of York,</p><p>Toronto.Conference Thursday 6 Friday 7 September 2007 at Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh</p><p>Speakers: Professor Sergio Della Sala FRSE, University of Edinburgh and Chairman of theConference Organising Committee; Professor David Myers, Hope College, Holland and</p><p>Professor James E Alcock, University of York, Toronto</p><p>Scientists from different disciplines, including psychologists, neuropsychologists, neuroscientists,philosophers, social scientists and neurologists, discussed topics which are popular for everydaypress coverage but rarely addressed from a purely scientific perspective. In particular, theconference aimed to present experts views on popular misconceptions about the functioning of themind and the brain and about human behaviour.</p><p>As is the case for other sciences (for example physics and chemistry) the questions that interestthe general public are different (often more general) from most of the questions that theneuroscientists deal with in their research. Sources of everyday information such as magazines,newspapers, popular press and TV often report on how the mind works. This conference aimed atdiscussing what we really know about the functioning of the mind. Using a scientific approach, thespeakers contributing to Tall Tales addressed questions that they are likely to be asked at cocktailparties. These questions included:</p><p>Do we really use only 10% of our brain?</p><p>Can we stimulate the creativity of the right hemisphere?</p><p>Can we believe our memories?</p><p>How can we improve our learning skills?</p><p>Can one become more intelligent listening to Mozarts music?Does the size of the brain matter?</p><p>Does the moon influence our behaviour?</p><p>Is bilingualism good or bad?</p><p>Can we trust our intuitions?</p><p>Can we detect a liar?</p><p>The conference was unique in that rather than sharing scientific issues with peers, it was intendedto disseminate knowledge and aimed mainly at high-school teachers and their upper year pupils,along with a few science journalists and other interested lay-people.</p><p>In a recent survey of teachers, almost 90 per cent thought that in the design of Educational</p><p>programmes, knowledge of the brain was important, or very important. However, this recognition isnot necessarily always beneficial. Some enthusiastic educationalists have over-simplified findingsfrom neuroscience and over-interpreted the outcomes. This has given rise to a number of tall taleson how the brain works which are influencing teaching and educational programmes based on themisuse of neuroscience discoveries.</p><p>We live in a credulous world: factual information provided by the media is comforting while thedoubtful scientific approach is perceived as distant and somewhat dull. Tall Tales showed thatscience can be fun and creative.</p><p>Sergio Della Sala</p><p>Chair of the Organising Committee</p><p>Human Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychology, University of Edinburgh</p><p>Opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the RSE, nor of its Fellows</p><p>The RSE is Scottish Charity No. SC 000470</p></li></ul>