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New Souls for Old

  • Anne Jaap Jacobson (a1)


John Hibbing's paper prompts me to outline three points: (1) Cognitive psychology and neuroscience are developing a new picture of human beings' cognitive functioning, broadly understood. One startling implication is that we often understand ourselves much less well than we are inclined to think. (2) It is seriously mistaken to think that reading the output of an fMRI experiment is as easy and clear as interpreting a realistic picture. Among other things, various interpretations of an output may be equally acceptable. (3) Neuroscience can, and has been, used to support widespread prejudices, such as the intellectual inferiority of the female mind. Major researchers have given in to the temptation to see their older views in the new sciences of the mind. The second and third points may well lead us to think that incorporating the insights from the new fields involves us in genuinely interdisciplinary research. At the very least, we cannot count on skimming through an admired text to find out what is right. But serious research that spans different disciplines can be immensely rewarding.



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Bluhm, R., Jacobson, A.J., and Maibom, H.L.. 2012. Neurofeminism: Issues at the Intersection of Feminist Theory and Cognitive Science. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Carey, B. 2012. “Academic ‘Dream Team’ Helped Obama's Effort. New York Times, D1, November 13.
Chabris, C.F., and Simons, D.J.. 2010. The Invisible Gorilla: Thinking Clearly in a World of Illusions. New York: Crown Publishers.
Damasio, A.R. 2005. Descartes' Error: Eemotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. London: Penguin.
Farah, Martha J. 2007. “This Is Your Brain on Politics?Neuroethics & Law Blog. (accessed February 5, 2013).
Fine, C. 2005. A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives. Crows Nest, NSW.: Allen & Unwin.
Fine, C. 2010. Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton.
Kahneman, D. 2002. “Maps of Bounded Rationality.” Retrieved from
Pylyshyn, Z. W. 2000. “Situating Vision in the World.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 4(5): 197207.
Volz, K.G., Schubotz, R.I., and von Cramon, D.Y.. 2005. “Variants of Uncertainty in Decision-Making and Their Neural Correlates.” Brain Research Bulletin 67(5): 403–12.

New Souls for Old

  • Anne Jaap Jacobson (a1)


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