Interview with Robert Burton, author of A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind | Brain Science Podcast series

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Brain Science podcast host, Ginger Campbell, MD, interviews Robert Burton, neurologist and writer on his latest book: “In On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not Robert Burton showed that the feeling of certainty, which is something we all experience, has its origin in brain processes that are both unconscious and inaccessible to consciousness. Now in his new book A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves he extends these ideas to other mental sensations such as our feeling of agency and our sense of causation. The idea that much of what our brain does is not accessible to our conscious awareness is NOT new, but Dr. Burton considers the implications for our understanding of the mind.” 


Summary of the book from Burton’s website:


“A critical look at cutting edge and key assumptions in cognitive science that offers a new way of exploring how our brains generate thought. What if what we consider to be reason-based, deliberative judgment is really the product of involuntary mental sensations? In A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind, Dr. Robert Burton takes a close look at the key false assumptions that permeate the field of cognitive science and offers a new way of exploring how our brains generate thought. The essential paradox that drives this cutting-edge theory is that the same mechanisms that prevent understanding the mind also generate a sense that we can attain such understanding. In A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind, Burton presents his theory of the “mental sensory system”—a system that generates the main components of consciousness: a sense of self, a sense of choice and free will, and how we make moral decisions.


Bringing together anecdotes, practical thought experiments, and cutting-edge neuroscience to show how these various strands of thought and mental sensations interact, A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind offers a powerful tool for knowing what we can and cannot say about the mind; how to discern good from bad cognitive science studies; and most importantly, how to consider the moral implications of these studies. This is a pathbreaking model for considering the interaction between conscious and unconscious thought.” (

Nancy Hepner‘s insight:

Long arse article from a guy who still needs to learn about positive speaking and thinking. But interesting nonetheless hmmm?

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