Science as Story Telling and
The Brain as a Scientist/Story Teller

Science for College Program
27 June 2006
Paul Grobstein

Science as Story Telling and Story Revision
(article, web resources, on-line forum)

Linear scienceSeriously loopy science
  
Science as body of facts established by specialized fact-generating people and process

Science as successive approximations to Truth


Science as authority about "natural world"

Science as ongoing process of getting it less wrong, potentially usable by and contributed to by everyone

Science as ongoing making of observations, intepreting/summarizing, making new observations, making new summaries

Science as process of inquiry into anything, one which everybody is equiped to do/can get better at/be further empowered by, and contribute to - a way of making sense of what is but even more of exploring what might yet be

If science is as much about creation as discovery then the "crack"is a feature, not a bug ... and differences among people are an asset to the process rather than a problem or an indication it isn't working

Trying It Out

Which of the following two stories do you prefer?
  1. The earth is flat (Flat Earth Society)
  2. The earth is round
Because of ... Is one or the other story true? Have there been others? Are there others? Will there be? Which of the following two stories do you prefer?
  1. The sun goes around the earth
  2. The earth goes around the sun
Because of ... Is one or the other story true? Have their been others? Are there others? Will there be?
Scientific stories are frequently efforts to summarize the widest possible range of observations, always motivate new observations and hence new stories, should never be understood as "authoritative" or "believed in", do not compete with or invalidate other stories. Key issues about scientific stories
  • What observations do they summarize?
  • What new observations do they motivate?

Which of the following stories do you prefer?

  1. Existing life forms (including humans) are as they are because of a previous and ongoing process of evolution consisting of random change and natural selection (differential reproductive success).
  2. Existing life forms (including humans) are as they are because of repeated creative acts of a supernatural being with a plan and intent?
  3. Existing life forms (including humans) are as they are because of an initial creative act with a supernatural being with a plan and intent?
  4. Other?
Because of ... Is one or another of these stories true? Have their been others? Are there others? Will there be?
Science = open-ended transactional cyclic observation/interpretation/creation; being wrong and conflict an important part of it; give up "definiteness" for usefulness and openness (pass it on).

Where do we get the ability to inquire? to make observatons? tell/share/compare stories? revise hypotheses/stories?

The Brain as Scientist/Story Teller

Even though its common knowledge these days, it never ceases to amaze me that all the richness of our mental life - all our feelings, our emotions, our thoughts, our ambitions, our love life, our religious sentiments and even what each of us regards as his own intimate private self - is simply the activity of these little specks of jelly in your head, in your brain. There is nothing else.

Vilayanur Ramachandran, 2003

The Brain - is wider than the Sky -
For - put them side by side -
The one the other will contain
With ease - and You - beside-

The Brain is deeper than the sea -
For - hold them - Blue to Bue -
The one the other will absorb -
As sponges - Buckets - do

The Brain is just the weight of God -
For - Heft them - Pound for Pound -
And they will differ - if they do -
As syllable from Sound -

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Brain = Behavior ... a true story? a good story?

Because of ... Let's make some observations, explore usefulness ...

The Brain as Designed to Carry Out Process (Its All We've Got, Bipartite, and Seriously Loopy)

The Linear BrainThe Loopy Brain with Semi-autonomy and Story Telling
Semi-autonomy and expectation
Distributed organization and conflict resolution
Observing and story telling ("If a tree falls ..." and its importance)
Bipartite, interacting brain

Trying it out ...

Science = open-ended transactional inquiry/creation
Brains designed by evolution to participate in open-ended transactional inquiry/creation, using differences/conflict
Enjoy being a scientist (professional or otherwise)


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