Archive | March, 2008

Say Hello To My Little Brain

“Biological Basis For Creativity Linked To Mental Illness,” says the headline. Turns out that “the brains of creative people appear to be more open to incoming stimuli from the surrounding environment,” a trait also associated with psychosis.

exploring the brain So the big story here is about the possible connection between creativity and psychosis. But I’m still grumping over the phrase “biological basis for creativity.” Because it sounds to me as though they are treating the discovery that creative people’s brains are more open to stimuli as though it explained why those people are more creative. And it’s not obvious to me that it does that.

Going on the assumption that all mental states (acquired as well as innate – something that cheerleaders for neuroscience oddly seem to forget) have neurophysiological correlates, it follows that there will be some physical difference between the brains of people who believe they have a brother named Steve and the brains of people who don’t believe that. But it would be weird to call this difference in brains the explanatory basis of the difference in beliefs. Surely it’s actually having or not having a brother named Steve that accounts for the difference, and the difference in brain structures is less a cause of the difference in beliefs than it is the physical side of that difference, the form in which the different beliefs are materially realised.

Analogously, if you asked me “why are you all dressed up today?” and I answered “because I’m wearing a suit and tie,” you might justifiably feel that I’d misunderstood your question.

Ruwarchy 2.0

I’ve created a monster!

A monster of a name, anyway: Ruwarchy! It’s inspired Less Antman to give his unofficial Ruwart site that name.

Mary Ruwart While obviously prompted by Mary Ruwart’s announcement of her presidential bid, isn’t specifically a Ruwart campaign site; it’s more of an all-things-Ruwart site, and indeed seems deliberately designed to be welcoming to libertarians who reject electoral politics. The site proclaims itself a forum for “those who want to advance the pure libertarian ideas Dr. Ruwart champions in whatever way they choose,” and there’s even a section of the website devoted to “non-party activism.” Moreover, Antman has argued elsewhere that even anti-electoral libertarians have reason to welcome her campaign, on the grounds that “it should improve sales of her books,” and “since neither book actively promotes voting or politics, this will aid the entire movement, including those who reject political campaigning as a persuasion technique.”

But there’s plenty of stuff for partyarchs too, including a section devoted to overturning the 2006 gutting of the LP platform.

In the meantime, the official Ruwart campaign site is being run by the hardline anti-electoral Brad Spangler. Go figure.

I suspect anti-electorals will have especially mixed feelings about Ruwart’s candidacy. On the one hand, she’s promoting a much more radical form of libertarianism than Ron Paul is; on the other, for that very reason she’s more likely than Paul to lure potential anti-electorals into electoral politics.

Ruwart’s campaign will also be an interesting test of how much radicalism is left in the LP. If someone like Barr or Gravel beats Ruwart to the nomination that would probably be a sign that it’s lost its soul irretrievably.

Vote War No More

If you’d like to add your signature to a statement saying “I will only vote for or support federal candidates who publicly commit to a speedy end to the Iraq war, and to preventing future ‘wars of aggression’,” click here.

Nonvoters take notice: given the logic of “only,” this pledge means merely that you won’t vote for candidates who don’t meet this test, not that you will vote for some candidate who does – so you can sign with a clear conscience.

And no, I don’t know why “wars of aggression” is in scare-quotes.

A Song I Wrote All By Myself

Whoever knows fear BURNS at the touch of the MAN-THING Man-Thing
I think I fear you

but I wanna know for sure

so come on and
hold me tight


… I fear you …

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