A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind by Robert Burton
What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves

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...what’s needed is a corrective – a line of reasoning that repositions neuroscience in more realistic terms, while not completely defusing its wonderment. Robert Burton’s latest book...fills the role remarkably well.
-Forbes

Synopsis

What if our soundest, most reasonable judgments are beyond our control?

Despite 2500 years of contemplation by the world's greatest minds and the more recent phenomenal advances in basic neuroscience, neither neuroscientists nor philosophers have a decent understanding of what the mind is or how it works. The gap between what the brain does and the mind experiences remains uncharted territory. Nevertheless, with powerful new tools such as the fMRI scan, neuroscience has become the de facto mode of explanation of behavior. Neuroscientists tell us why we prefer Coke to Pepsi, and the media trumpets headlines such as "Possible site of free will found in brain." Or: "Bad behavior down to genes, not poor parenting."

Robert Burton believes that while some neuroscience observations are real advances, others are overreaching, unwarranted, wrong-headed, self-serving, or just plain ridiculous, and often with the potential for catastrophic personal and social consequences. In A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind, he brings together clinical observations, practical thought experiments, personal anecdotes, and cutting-edge neuroscience to decipher what neuroscience can tell us – and where it falls woefully short. At the same time, he offers a new vision of how to think about what the mind might be and how it works.
A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind is a critical, startling, and expansive journey into the mysteries of the brain and what makes us human.

 

About Robert Burton

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Robert Burton, MD is a physician, journalist, and author. A graduate of Yale University and University of California at San Francisco medical school, he was formerly chief of the Division of Neurology at Mt. Zion-UCSF Hospital and Associate Chief of the Department of Neurosciences. Burton's work has appeared in Salon and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others, and he frequently is invited to speak about the brain, the mind, neuroscience, and philosophy of science. The author of On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not and three critically acclaimed novels, he lives in Sausalito, California.
 
Published April 23, 2013 by St. Martin's Press. 273 pages
Genres: Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Nature & Wildlife. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind
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Kirkus

Excellent
on Feb 04 2013

Burton makes clear that neuroscience is “improving both our daily lives and our self-understanding,”...An informative, witty, provocative meditation on the mind–brain paradox.

Read Full Review of A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Forbes

Good
Reviewed by David DiSalvo on May 06 2013

...what’s needed is a corrective – a line of reasoning that repositions neuroscience in more realistic terms, while not completely defusing its wonderment. Robert Burton’s latest book...fills the role remarkably well.

Read Full Review of A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind... | See more reviews from Forbes

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