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The Dualism Battleground

Last week I reported on how New Scientist had published an article linking proponents of Intelligent Design with theories of Dualism. Video from the conference which inspired the article – the Mind Body Symposium – is now available online at the conference website, along with audio of some of the lectures. Contrary to the “Creationist” scare words of the NS article, those present included some ‘near-death experience’ researchers, such as Sam Parnia and Bruce Greyson, as well as physicist Henry Stapp and neuroscientist Mario Beauregard.

Beauregard’s co-author on the book The Spiritual Brain, Denyse O’Leary, has also published a rejoinder to the New Scientist article on her blog, which she described as a “hit piece”. O’Leary points out that contrary to the headline, nobody in the article is a “Creationist” (though some certainly do support the plausability of the Intelligent Design hypothesis). She also gives an example of how people’s words (notably, Mario Beauregard’s) were selectively edited to make them sound more militant than they really were. And O’Leary questions why the NS article put so much emphasis on the Discovery Institute’s interest in Dualism, when many of those involved are not aligned with them (along the way, giving a little insight into the ‘politics’ behind the scenes):

Conspiracy thinking is a weak substitute for information. Discovery Institute is sympathetic to non-materialist neuroscience** (no surprise there), but it is not in any sense a key player. Non-materialist neuroscience probably owes much more to the Templeton Foundation, about whose science efforts Gefter is quite ambivalent, to say nothing of the Nour Foundation, which co-sponsored the recent symposium. But that would not fit the picture she is trying to paint.

Incidentally, will Templeton sour on non-materialist neuroscience, if Discovery gets more involved? Templeton and Discovery are not on friendly terms. Maybe, but Templeton may refuse to cede a fruitful area to a hated upstart. You don’t get to be big that way, and Templeton is big.

It’s an indepth piece, which brings into question large parts of the NS article (regardless of your position), so it’s worth checking out.

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