Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Thursday, January 27, 2005

More Brains!

It's Deja Moo in Wired. Yes, Daniel H. Pink is attempting to revive the left-brain–right-brain cliche. It was based on research done in the 1960s and it became well known when Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain was published in 1979. The article starts off wrong:

When I was a kid - growing up in a middle-class family, in the middle of America, in the middle of the 1970s - parents dished out a familiar plate of advice to their children: Get good grades, go to college, and pursue a profession that offers a decent standard of living and perhaps a dollop of prestige. If you were good at math and science, become a doctor. If you were better at English and history, become a lawyer. If blood grossed you out and your verbal skills needed work, become an accountant.
Excuse me. Speaking as someone who got through the 1970s unstoned, the common idea at the time was that “linear thinking” was obsolete (anybody here remember Marshall McLuhan?) and that computers would do all our logical thinking for us. This was partly due to the theory that creativity was highly important and (this is the preposterous step) the opposite of logical thinking. When the research on brain hemispheres came out, it turned out there was some reason to think that the left hemisphere was better at logic and the cliche mongers jumped to the conclusion that the right hemisphere must be creative. (It replaced the earlier theory that creativity was marked by α waves.)

In any case, the routine left-brain jobs can't disappear. They're mostly already gone. There are far fewer openings for typists and bank tellers nowadays. The left-brain jobs remaining are those that are conceptual and there's no reason to regard conceptual thinking as a right brain function.

In the other direction, routine right-brain jobs can be outsourced just as easily as routine left-brain jobs. Photoshop can be used overseas as easily as Excel.

Future Cliches?

By the way, isn't it time for a new set of brain buzzwords? Why not draw a distinction between the top brain and the bottom brain or between the front brain and back brain? Why not draw a distinction between the plan-everything frontal lobes and the go-with-the-flow cerebellum?

If it turns out that I started something here … can I get royalties on it?


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