by James Bailey |

It was hard to avoid the subject of "truth" in last week's Sunday Review of the New York Times. The whole last page was given over to a list, now in smaller type than ever, of Donald Trump lies.

When it comes to the middle school years—the destiny school years for the kids living the—we can learn more about truth, however, by looking into Therese Huston's thoughts on “Men Are So Hormonal." First there is the idiotic cartoon of a guy leaping over a brain and off the edge of a cliff. It is as though there is a guy separate from his brain. This is so old school. We now know that there is no "me" separate from my brain. You and I have no separate "minds” that somehow reflect on what our brains come up with. The existence of a "mind" is just a story our brains make up. 

More important, our brains do not do passive "truth." They do action. The neurons in our brains connect to the neurons in our bodies and tell them what to do. In the case of the experiment that Ms. Huston relates in her article, brains tell fingers to push "buy" buttons more often than they should when there is testosterone in the mix.

 Ms. Huston, however, is still stuck back in the old Age of Reason. She uses the trick question of a ball and a bat costing together a $1.10 and asks how much they each cost. We mostly get this one "wrong," of course, and she "assesses judgment and reasoning" on that basis. In Self Schooling: Brain Science, MOOCs, and the Reviving Cash Value of the Liberal Arts, you can read about the free Neuroeconomics MOOC where Prof. Klucharev  makes the obvious point that those of us who answer "a buck and a dime" to this stupid question will do just fine in life.

The middle school years are none too soon to start realizing that clever facility in the face of stupid trick questions, and the false connection of these trick answers to truth, is not the path to success in life. They just cheapen the discussion of truth.


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