After getting my PhD in physics at Columbia and starting a company, then going back to get an MBA (also Columbia), I was fascinated at how effectively the exercises in leadership class worked. They pointed out how leadership was based in behavior and said "If you behave this way, people will respond that way. Doing so will make you a leader."
The exercises worked surprisingly well. I learned behavior that helped me lead my company better. People began deferring to me as a leader where they didn't before -- in regular life as well as business. My science background saw reproducibility and concluded there must be a useful theory beneath. My physics background wanted not just a theory, but a simple one too. But when I asked my teachers why it worked they just said "Don't ask. Just do it. It works." Business school is a vocational school, so that response made sense.
My scientific curiosity kept me going. I studied evolutionary psychology, positive psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, and more. I also kept practicing what I learned in business and life as I continued running my business and starting others.
As an entrepreneur my goal was not to publish papers, despite my science background, but to make a useful theory -- useful to entrepreneurs and businesspeople like myself. Like I gather this book says, I found tons of low-level detail out there on neuroscience that, while fascinating, was so detailed and frontier it wasn't clear how to use it, nor how long before newer results changed our understanding of it, nor could anyone know enough of it to use it effectively. Not many neuroscientists make great leaders, nor do many psychologists or psychiatrists, despite knowing so much detail about the brain. Knowing about something is not the same as knowing how to use it.
Like the author of this book (quoting the review) "has a bone to pick with neuroscientists. They are discovering fascinating information, but their interpretations often go beyond what the data can really tell us. They often draw questionable conclusions from imaging studies that could have other explanations." I share his skepticism not of the scientific results, but of its utility to day-to-day life, especially in an entrepreneurial or leadership environment. My goal was to make the information useful to lead, to run a company, and in general to win friends and influence people.
Eventually I realized an effective model of the mind had to balance low-level detail with high-level breadth and ability to be communicated and understood. I think geeks like us tend to get caught up in fascinating detail, whereas when we interact with others, especially to start or run our companies or work in teams, we have to make the information useful in the moment.
My end result was two-fold: a model of the human emotional system and the core of a book putting it all together that also evolved into a seminar I give at business schools as well as the New York Academy of Sciences. On a personal level, I would say I've increased my emotional intelligence and self-awareness tremendously, two concepts I didn't understand and couldn't figure out how to increase before creating my model despite knowing their value to my life.
For anyone interested in how the mind works not to publish papers but to use it to lead, to start or run their company, to win friends and influence people, to live a better life, and to increase their self-awareness and emotional intelligence, I have a long series of blog posts that are an effective first draft of the core of that book on the model of our motivational and emotional system -- http://joshuaspodek.com/the-model-summary -- and how to use it -- http://joshuaspodek.com/method-step-by-step.
Sorry for the long post leading to a longer series of posts, but if you clicked this story, I suspect you have the same curiosity about making neuroscience useful in business and life and may find the material helpful.
EDIT: based on Luc's fair comment, I should note the material is not polished -- maybe alpha stage or earlier -- and some stuff on models in general very basic for this community. I've gotten positive feedback and no negative feedback (no doubt due in part to selection effects) from people who have made it all through. I'm in the process of making it into a single volume.
Now, I do appreciate people putting in the effort to publish free content online, and one doesn't always want to be confronted with smart-asses who find nits to pick, but since you are writing a book I thought I'd mention it.
It's as if you expect him to actually understand and explain what his brain is doing ;)
emotions matter in people's decisions, so be aware of the effect you have on others and on yourself ?
I remember reading http://www.amazon.com/Descartes-Error-Emotion-Reason-Human/d..., and it was all about that thesis.
Also, the other ones, the ones saying things we don't agree with, are saying that "just because [insert your favorite bias here]". We're the ones really cool and aware of mind traps.
Lo and behold, five years later, I only remember the good times.
I quite like John Searle take on the philosophy of mind, his book "Mind: A Brief Introduction" is pretty well written, and I like the Chinese room thought experiment which I think kind of highlights what a lot of people find problematic about the mind-body problem.
I personally don't buy the "if it's indistinguishable from a person it's conscious" argument. Philosophical Zombies for example are a good example of system that I think could appear conscious, but I don't think are in any meaningful way. That is to say, if you had a large lookup table of every possible response, or just "guessed" reasonable responses by chance, I don't think that says anything meaningful about consciousness.
The above might be solved by putting somekind of information content limit on this system, for example if a system responds as a human, and it's construction requires as little or less information than a human then it can be said to be conscious, but basing your judgement purely on response is not enough in my view.
In general I find philosophers rather annoying when they try and deal with consciousness, Searle is at least easier to pin down and does attempt to interact with the AI community to some degree.
If there is no amount of interrogation that could possibly convince you that another being (in silico or otherwise) possessed consciousness, your logic can be followed through to solipsism.
You might impose an additional criteria such as complexity limits as I suggested, which could lead you to a definition of concuousness as a near minimal encoding of "human like" responses. And would of course be falsifiable.
But you can take it in the other direction for example someone who is completely paralysed, they might be conscious but we'd have no way of knowing. That could bring into play the idea that the ability to interact with the rest of the universe is an integral part of concuousness.
The problem is that to most people consciousness is defined by its purely subjective experience. Mind from matter people would possibly say that subjective experience is an illusion. Searle's thought experiments highlight that fact, which is what makes them useful, because they make the division between the two camps clear.
a link to a review of Daniel Dennett's newest book, is very much on-point for this thread. I see I have two interesting books to look forward to reading, the one reviewed in the review opening this thread, and the one reviewed in the review opening that thread.
Any theory that posits we are not rational creatures is self refuting. If I can't trust my mind to reliably deliver rational conclusions, why should I trust it to have delivered a rational conclusion about the very theory I'm proposing?