1 of 2
1
Ginger Campbell - Podcasting Neuroscience
Posted: 20 January 2009 10:50 PM   [ Ignore ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  174
Joined  2007-02-21

Ginger Campbell, M.D., is an emergency physician whose long-standing interest in philosophy and science motivated her to begin podcasting in 2006. While her Brain Science Podcast focuses on neuroscience, her other show, Books and Ideas, often explores the intersection between science and religion. She is also the founder of sciencepodcasters.org, which is a site devoted to promoting science through podcasting.

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Ginger Campbell recounts how she first got involved in science podcasting, and why she focuses on neuroscience as her topic. She discusses the impact of Jennifer Michael Hecht’s work on both her intellectual pursuits and her views about atheism and religion. She talks about the trends in neuroscience that may suggest the brain can be “trained” with products such as Brain Age on Nintendo’s DS Lite, or that one’s diet can increase one’s intelligence. She describes “neuroplasticity,” and how new brain imaging technologies, such as advanced fMRIs, show that our daily actions can impact specific parts of the brain. She explores the implications of neuroscience for religious belief, and why she has at times resisted the idea of atheism. She shares her reactions to the “New Atheists.” And she discusses the increasing attacks on neuroscience from Creationist activists because of what it implies about consciousness, free-will and the existence of the soul.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 January 2009 11:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7576
Joined  2007-03-02

She’s going to be on PoI?  COOL!  I like listening to her podcasts.  She’s great and I’m glad to see her on PoI.  Can’t wait to get it on iTunes podcasts.  smile

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 January 2009 09:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7576
Joined  2007-03-02

I finally got to listen to it and I thought it was a keeper episode.  I did like how she said something like disbelief or belief was not a choice, but rather neurological.  I can understand that very well, given what I know about neuro-psychology and the fact I can’t make myself belief either.  It’s just not there.  Not that I have never had feelings of transendence, I have many many times in my life, but I’ve learned that is a neurological reaction to some extrenal stimuli, which I still enjoy and appreciate to this day.  As a child, I called that numinous feeling god, but I never did quite grasp the “invisible old man in the sky” philosophy.  The thing is, these feelings are part of being human, they just aren’t any deity.  I’m preaching to the chior though.  LOL

I highly recommend giving it AND her podcasts a listen.  I think you’ll enjoy both.  Great episode DJ!  Please have her on again very soon.  smile

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 January 2009 11:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  8
Joined  2008-05-02

Hi, DJ-

It was good of you to ask about the most exciting next area of neuroscience. I’d like to vote for the imminent finding of the mechanistic basis of consciousness. There is a great deal of work going on here, about brain waves (Buszaki) and structure/connectivity (all the fMRI folks) ... which is going to resolve the problem of consciousness, within the decade or two at most. This is a terribly exciting time, with huge implications for our self-knowledge as well as theism.

Best wishes!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 January 2009 04:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  7
Joined  2009-01-22

a very inspirational talk from a podcaster whose podcasts are interesting and inspirational in their own right.  grin

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 January 2009 08:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  189
Joined  2009-01-01

Dr. Ginger Campbell presents some of the most interesting podcasts and I continue to listen to them regularly.  The material is on the cutting edge of what is being learned about how our brains work and make us who we are and she does it very well.  This podcast made me a little sad in that she seems a little lost with and is trying to better establish her personal spiritural matters, a subject which I don’t recall having materialized in such a manner on her own programs, so this was a good visit with the woman herself.

Focus inhibits scope - sometimes such is the price of genius.

 Signature 

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. - Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 January 2009 08:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2423
Joined  2007-09-03
Mriana - 21 January 2009 09:42 PM

I finally got to listen to it and I thought it was a keeper episode.  I did like how she said something like disbelief or belief was not a choice, but rather neurological. 

I agree with Mriana, D.J. got a lot out of this episode and it’s one which bears replaying.  I hadn’t listened to her podcasts so that’s something else to look forward to.

It was also interesting how the Jennifer Michael Hecht book Doubt figured into the development of her thinking about belief.  And like Mriana notes, Campbell thinks efforts like those of Richard Dawkins are unlikely to succeed because the belief is partly neurological.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 January 2009 01:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  227
Joined  2008-07-26
Jackson - 28 January 2009 08:10 PM

It was also interesting how the Jennifer Michael Hecht book Doubt figured into the development of her thinking about belief.  And like Mriana notes, Campbell thinks efforts like those of Richard Dawkins are unlikely to succeed because the belief is partly neurological.

What is supposed to be meant by saying belief is “partly neurological”? What did we expect to find when we began studying neurons? That they don’t play a part in the previously free-floating and magical “consciousness” or “Free will” thing? So now we are wow’d to find out beliefs are grounded in the mechanisms of the grey?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 January 2009 01:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7576
Joined  2007-03-02

I’m not so sure she meant that, Sate.  People often mistake feelings of transcendence for a “deity”, when in reality, it is just neuro-chemical.  One can increase these feeling via fasting, music, smells, and other emotionally triggering external things.  It is one of the reasons, though people didn’t know it was neurochemical long ago, we see all these things in a church service.  All these external things trigger chemicals in the brain.  Once a person understands this, they can control it, but at the same time the superstition is removed for some people, which makes it hard for them to believe in a supernatural being, if not impossible.  Others might very well choose to believe or not, but some people actually do not.  A lot of it, I think, depends on the person and their level of knowledge.  Those who don’t know or understand may truly believe these higher emotions (aesthetic sense) are actually a deity.

That’s my take on it at least.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 January 2009 02:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2423
Joined  2007-09-03
Mriana - 31 January 2009 01:18 PM

I’m not so sure she meant that, Sate.  People often mistake feelings of transcendence for a “deity”, when in reality, it is just neuro-chemical.  One can increase these feeling via fasting, music, smells, and other emotionally triggering external things.  It is one of the reasons, though people didn’t know it was neurochemical long ago, we see all these things in a church service.  All these external things trigger chemicals in the brain.  Once a person understands this, they can control it, but at the same time the superstition is removed for some people, which makes it hard for them to believe in a supernatural being, if not impossible.  Others might very well choose to believe or not, but some people actually do not.  A lot of it, I think, depends on the person and their level of knowledge.  Those who don’t know or understand may truly believe these higher emotions (aesthetic sense) are actually a deity.

That’s my take on it at least.

This is one of those cases that if the podcast automatically generated a transcript you could pull up the text and find that section. It’s awkward to replay the whole thing.  I may very well be mis-stating it somewhat so if you haven’t listened to the podcast don’t take my post as the transcript.

I guess I thought people COULD be convinced by Dawkins book so I was kind of surprised by the observation…

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 January 2009 02:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  227
Joined  2008-07-26
Mriana - 31 January 2009 01:18 PM

I’m not so sure she meant that, Sate.  People often mistake feelings of transcendence for a “deity”, when in reality, it is just neuro-chemical.  One can increase these feeling via fasting, music, smells, and other emotionally triggering external things.  It is one of the reasons, though people didn’t know it was neurochemical long ago,...

That’s my take on it at least.

Mriana, I agree with what you have summarized here. There was a time when breathing was considered metaphysical and the air was an animating force. No doubt modern understanding of respiration would kill such superstition in a society making such a scientific leap.

My question was about a different topic which is becoming common and a bit vexing. The meaning of a part of cognition is supposed to be changed when we understand a part of it. The example here is belief, let’s say belief in God. Does it become less spiritual if your belief has neurological bases? I can’t imagine how. On this I need some clarification. Obviously I believe the word “spiritual” and anything it may literally refer to does not exist, but that is beside the point.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 January 2009 07:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7576
Joined  2007-03-02

Jackson, I listened to it the minute it came out and was loaded on my iTunes program.

Sate, I emailed her after the show, asked her to drop into the conversation here, and gave her this link, and she said she would try to drop in, so IF she does, and I hope she does, maybe she will clarify for us.

I don’t think it becomes less spiritual when one understands it, but they maybe less likely to attribute it to a deity.  That’s just my personal opinion and personal experience.  I once attributed such feeling to being god, but not with human features. It just was, with no human words to describe it.  Now that I understand it better, have been educated about it, I still enjoy transcendent experiences when I have them, but I don’t call them god nor do I believe it is accurate to say it is.  It’s just part of the human experience.  So, I guess it just depends on the person.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 February 2009 11:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  10
Joined  2008-12-02
gray1 - 24 January 2009 08:06 PM

Dr. Ginger Campbell presents some of the most interesting podcasts and I continue to listen to them regularly.  The material is on the cutting edge of what is being learned about how our brains work and make us who we are and she does it very well.  This podcast made me a little sad in that she seems a little lost with and is trying to better establish her personal spiritural matters, a subject which I don’t recall having materialized in such a manner on her own programs, so this was a good visit with the woman herself.

Focus inhibits scope - sometimes such is the price of genius.


I am not sure what I said that gave you the impression that I “lost,” but it is true that while I try to be up front about my biases on my podcasts, they are not personal shows. When I first started Books and Ideas, I experimented with a more personal style, but I quickly discovered that I was not comfortable with that format. Besides, I quickly learned that there is so much interesting stuff out there to talk about, my listeners don’t need to hear about me.

 Signature 

Ginger Campbell, MD
Brain Science Podcast
SCIENCEPODCASTERS.ORG

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 February 2009 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  10
Joined  2008-12-02
sate - 31 January 2009 01:07 PM
Jackson - 28 January 2009 08:10 PM

It was also interesting how the Jennifer Michael Hecht book Doubt figured into the development of her thinking about belief.  And like Mriana notes, Campbell thinks efforts like those of Richard Dawkins are unlikely to succeed because the belief is partly neurological.

What is supposed to be meant by saying belief is “partly neurological”? What did we expect to find when we began studying neurons? That they don’t play a part in the previously free-floating and magical “consciousness” or “Free will” thing? So now we are wow’d to find out beliefs are grounded in the mechanisms of the grey?

I was referring to the fact that belief is not under are conscious control. This concept was discussed quite thoroughly by Dr. Robert Burton in his excellent book On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not. One point he made was that understanding this could help us to have more tolerance for those whose beliefs are different from ours.

 Signature 

Ginger Campbell, MD
Brain Science Podcast
SCIENCEPODCASTERS.ORG

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 February 2009 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  10
Joined  2008-12-02

First, I want to thank everyone who has sent me emails. It was definitely a privilege to be on Point of Inquiry.

I have attempted a few brief responses above, but I thought I might expand on two topics: the relationship between beliefs and neurology, and what I said about Dawkins.

First, I agree with those who say that knowing that spiritual or mystical experiences are generated by the brain does not necessarily diminish their power. However, it does give us a chance to evaluate them more critically. Thus, if one has an experience that contradicts one’s ethics or suggests that one make a radical change, one might stop and let the “passion” of the moment pass before committing to a major life change.

While many of you are more likely to remember a de-conversion experience rather than a conversion experience, the truth is that we really don’t control either experience. Haven’t you ever had the experience where the exact same set of facts moved you to act even though in the past you had no emotional response? As Antonio Damasio has amply demonstrated, our decision-making has a fundamental emotional component (which we can’t control).

One important advantage of learning how our minds work, is that we can become aware of how these unconscious factors influence us. We need our emotions and all the other unconscious elements that make our mental lives possible, but that doesn’t mean that we should just accept our “gut reactions” without subjecting them to critical thinking.

This brings me to Richard Dawkins. As I said during the interview, what he is doing is very valuable, but the problem is that people are NOT purely rational beings, not even the smart ones! For that reason, I think he can only change the minds of people who happen to be in that rare state of receptiveness that is also very uncomfortable.

 Signature 

Ginger Campbell, MD
Brain Science Podcast
SCIENCEPODCASTERS.ORG

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 February 2009 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7576
Joined  2007-03-02
docartemis - 01 February 2009 11:45 AM

While many of you are more likely to remember a de-conversion experience rather than a conversion experience, the truth is that we really don’t control either experience. Haven’t you ever had the experience where the exact same set of facts moved you to act even though in the past you had no emotional response? As Antonio Damasio has amply demonstrated, our decision-making has a fundamental emotional component (which we can’t control).

Yes, but it wasn’t actually as sudden as it sounds, but a slow progression that led up to it, via education (psychology, neuro-psy, sociology, mythology, even various religions).  I was taking a Hindu class and after class I spoke with the prof about Krishna, Vishnu, and “I AM”.  I was still struggling to figure out what I believed or not at that time.  When he said, “Krishna was Vishnu incarnate” my brain “fainted”.  While I was physically still standing, it was a total shock to my mind.  When my brain “revived” and became concious again, I heard him say, “Understand?”  Still in shock and dazed, I said, “Yes.”  I spent the rest of the day walking around in a daze, because I was told, as a child, Christ was God incarnate, as well as the “I AM” etc.  Meme buster BIG TIME and somehow the concept I was taught “vanished”.  It was, for sure, what I thought before taking that class- “evolved” or rewritten myth.

Later I went to Robert Price, told him my “epiphany”, and asked him if it was as my mind comprehended.  Long story short, the answer was “yes”.  However, after that experience, belief was non-existant.  I could not bring it back even IF I had wanted to do so.  It wasn’t traumatic though, because in a sense, it was what I wanted or I would not have tried to educate myself about various things that applied to human beings and society.

However, this did not take from the numinous (definition #3 in Webster 11th ed.) experiences when I them, but any transcendent experiences I’ve had since then did not lead to belief again, because I began to understand it better on so many different levels.

Not sure if that is what you are referring to or not, but it wasn’t exactly something I controlled.  It just happened in the process of trying to gain knowledge.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1