Posted by: wtfwjd? | May 14, 2008

BoBos in Buddhaland

I’m a little late here, but BoBo has once again gotten in over his head:

Genes are not merely selfish, it appears. Instead, people seem to have deep instincts for fairness, empathy and attachment.

OK, The Selfish Gene is the title of the book that put Richard Dawkins on the map. It’s mostly mentioned now because of the term “meme” that he coined in its pages, but the book was far more important than that, and Brooks is providing evidence that he either didn’t read it or didn’t understand it.

Genes are not merely selfish, it appears. Instead, people seem to have deep instincts for fairness, empathy and attachment.

These points are not in opposition — the whole point of The Selfish Gene was to explain the paradox of the existence of altruism within Darwinian competition for survival — Dawkins showed very successfully that it doesn’t matter to evolution if an individual survives, it matters if the gene survives, thus the concept of the selfish gene. It’s OK for evolution if a bee with great genes sacrifices her life in defense of the hive, because she is helping to perpetuate the existence of the genes that her sisters and brothers also carry. The individual exhibits altruism and dies, but the gene succeeds. Thus the selfish gene.

Scientists have more respect for elevated spiritual states. Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania has shown that transcendent experiences can actually be identified and measured in the brain (people experience a decrease in activity in the parietal lobe, which orients us in space). The mind seems to have the ability to transcend itself and merge with a larger presence that feels more real.

Yeah, and hypoxia and death have an impact on consciousness and also “can actually be identified and measured in the brain.” What’s your point, Dave?

Instead it will lead to what you might call neural Buddhism.

He mentions Buddhism twice but I have no idea why. My guess is that he knows as little about Buddhism as he does about evolution or neuroscience. I think maybe he read a page of the Dancing Wu Li Masters while investigating California latte sippers in 1987 and he thinks he now understands Buddhism.

I’m not qualified to take sides, believe me.

Don’t worry, I believe you.

I have again wasted a lot of words saying what could be said in very few:

David Brooks is a fucking idiot.

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Responses

  1. […] Brooks Knows Nothing About Buddhism 14 05 2008 So says this person over at Tower of Dabble, responding to an atrocious little piece of crepulence from Mr. […]


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