Scientific American’s latest special issue is Scientific American Mind. It is a collection of very informative and interesting articles on the latest in brain science, philosophy of mind and brain technologies.
There is a brilliant article on “idiot savants” – people that have autism or received serious brain damage so that they do not function in daily life, yet have acquired some incredible special talents. Among the individuals mentioned in the article is Kim Peek, the man who inspired Dustin Hoffman’s character in the Rain man. He knows the text of 7,500 books by heart! Another one is Ellen who can tell the current time to the second without a clock no matter what the season.
While the whole issue is most interesting, three other articles in the issue are worth special mentioning:
- Anguish and Ethics (p. 10) that talks about how brain science is being used to better understand how humans deal with moral and ethical issues.
- The quest to find consciousness (p. 32) on efforts to understand how consciousness works – or better yet, what it is. These questions have hitherto been left to philosophers, but are gradually becoming hard science.
- The science of persuasion (p. 70). Consumer marketing – the persuasion techniques used to get us to buy certain products, elect a stupid president and other ways to make us sit and stand at “their” will.
I think most of you that read this blog will find this issue of Scientific American most amusing – and, no, there is nothing in it for me 😉