But it does not necessarily follow that neuroscience has no contribution to make. After all, a metal's macro hardness does depend on micro facts about its structure. Just because the two levels are distinct does not mean they are not closely linked. Might not society's notion of responsibility similarly depend on physical presuppositions about our physical brains--such as, say, nondeterminism--which neuroscience is in a perfect position to illuminate?
Dreams of Déjà Vu
"Strangely Familiar," by Uwe Wolfradt, about déjà vu made no mention of those instances in which one has a dream and then, at a later point, gets the déjà vu feeling. I personally have dreams of events or instances and then get the déjà vu feeling at a later date, and it is absolutely identical to the dream.
Elk Grove, Calif.
Problems for Prodigies
Regarding "Watching Prodigies for the Dark Side," by Marie-Noëlle Ganry-Tardy: somehow there is an idea that a child with an IQ of 50 needs special support and provision from appropriately trained staff but that at the other end--an IQ of 150 and beyond--children will muddle through with a spot of differentiation by a busy teacher, no assessment and no extra money. I know because one of my sons is a prodigy.
The inadequate provision and isolation he experienced in school would make you cry. In the end he switched off; his teachers thought he might have "one or two talents" but was "nothing special." After a secondary school teacher came to work with him at school, all of a sudden he was "profoundly gifted" and all the rest. That is, for those five hours a week; the rest of the time he was disengaged, isolated and undermotivated. Ultimately we moved him to a selective school with the staffing ratios and facilities to address his needs.
If you fight for provision for your low-IQ child, you are a hero; for your high-IQ child, a pushy parent. There is very little understanding and help. The word "gifted" itself takes your breath away. Who says being abnormal (especially when very young) is a gift?
Reader Erik Gfesser in the Letters section improperly demands special privilege for Christianity when he criticizes Gunther Klosinski's "Casting Out the Demons" for treating magic and the Holy Spirit as "occult." Klosinski's grouping appropriately reflects my dictionary's definition of occult, however: "Of, relating to, or dealing with supernatural influences, agencies, or phenomena." On that basis, faith in the Christian God is no less occult than faith in Shiva, Baal, Thor or witchcraft.
Science is an inherently secular pursuit in which no transcendental belief system is privileged, whatever its status in the larger culture. Scientific American Mind reports on, and should to some degree reflect, a scientific community that by a substantial margin finds neither Christianity nor any other supernatural belief system compelling.
Editor, Free Inquiry magazine
I thoroughly enjoyed the latest issue of Scientific American Mind. But I disagree with question 8 in Head Games, which asks the reader to find which word in line two best belongs with the words in line one. The answer provided is the word "hamburger." But "always" is also correct, because it is the only two-syllable word in line two and all the words in line one are two-syllable words. That makes question 8 invalid--and it was the only one I missed in what was an otherwise perfect score!
This article was originally published with the title Letters.