Teaching and Learning in a Net-Centric World

Keynotes and Brain Failure

I’m sitting at the Wellington Airport 3/4 through the visit and 4 keynote speeches on a whirlwind trip to New Zealand. In the lounge copy of Australia’s New Scientist magazine (Vol 206 no 2757)  I am reading a fascinating article about brain activity when engaged in prayer. Now first I should say that I don’t think many listeners to my talks are engaged in deep prayer (unless in hope that the end of the speech comes quickly) but the article identified parts of the subjects’ brains (using MNR technology) that are associated with skepticism, seem to shut down when they listened to the prayers of what they  believed were spoken by esteemed “healers”. The effect did not appear when the subjects were told that the prayers were being spoken by non believers or ordinary (non healing) Christians. It seems that people’s expectations of profound insight allowed their normal sense of critical appraisal to be shut down.

Now why I mention this is that the introductions to myself and my work before these speeches are often very flattering (and occasionally slightly embarrassing) in their complementary content. I know that the truth is often the first victim, when you are introduced by a friend, but I realize now, that perhaps some of the kind words I received after these talks, arise because peoples critical thinking capacity is reduced by the fervor of the expectation set by the introduction.

All of which leads me to advise readers to remember that all truth is relative and contextual and to be advised to not take anything for absolute truth from snake oil salesmen, Goldman Sachs executives, preachers, or distance education keynote speakers – it may just be your brain shutting down!

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2 Comments

  1. Sheri Oberman Sheri Oberman
    April 29, 2010    

    Terry, this blog could be part of a stand-up comedy routine, not to flatter you. So many a truth is spoken in jest, and truth-humour like yours relies on context.

  2. Walter Mrak Walter Mrak
    June 14, 2010    

    Terry, so many a jest introduces knowledge, opens perspective, ignites the endorphin brush fire that can be used to cook-up enlightenment on a scale unmatchable by drone data/information/fact delivery.

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