What do you call an asshole with a PhD? "DOCTOR."

Positive thinking, negative reaction

By David Charter

Brain specialists object to Dalai Lama's lecture on fostering compassion by means of meditation.

HE has devoted his life to promoting happiness and harmony.

---but apparently that's not good enough for the lab rats.

More than 900 researchers have signed a petition calling for the Tibetan spiritual leader’s talk to be scrapped because it will “highlight a subject with largely unsubstantiated claims and compromised scientific rigour and objectivity”.

The Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, is due to share his views on the power of meditation to alter the brain and generate positive thoughts at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington next month.

--share HIS views, get it? HIS views.

Some of his supporters believe his critics may be motivated more by political objections than scientific doubts, pointing to a number of petition signatories of Chinese origin. The Dalai Lama has been in exile since 1959, after China annexed his homeland.

Yi Rao, a neurology professor at Northwestern University, and one of the first to sign the petition, said that the Tibetan monk’s beliefs contradicted the fundamental basis of neuroscience.

“This merger of serious neuroscience with a particular religion is a practical joke because the very recognition of the Dalai Lama relies on the belief in reincarnation,” he said. “That means that the mind and the body have to be separate for the mind to pass from one generation to another.”

Oh come on Doctor Yi -- get the test tube out of your ass. I think someone's a little bit nervous about being called back to Beijing, eh? Or maybe he's just an uptight fool.

The petition says: “The presentation of a religious symbol with a controversial political agenda may cause unnecessary controversies, unwanted press, and significant divisions among SfN members . . . with conflicting religious beliefs and political leanings.

“Inviting the Dalai Lama to lecture on the neuroscience of meditation is of poor scientific taste because it will highlight a subject with largely unsubstantiated claims at a prestigious meeting attended by more than 20,000 neuroscientists.”

--20,000 neuroscientists? What better an audience to hear the Dalai Lama's opinions and consider them? Remember, this is a man who said "if science and Buddhism don't agree, Buddhism must change." What about science? Any space for new ideas? But then new ideas are pretty scary, hey kids, especially when there are government grants to consider.

Supporters of the Dalai Lama, who will mark his 70th birthday in Washington on a ten-day visit, say that he has collaborated with scientists for 15 years. He has worked with Richard Davidson, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, whose researchers reported that biotechnology workers showed increased levels of neural activity after taking a course in meditation.

But Dr Nancy Hayes, a neurobiologist at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, said: “As the public face of neuroscience, we have a responsibility to see that research is replicated before it is promoted and highlighted. If we do not do that we may as well be the Flat Earth Society."

-- Dr. Hayes -- you're ALREADY acting as if you WERE the Flat Earth Society.

The society yesterday defended the lecture. It said: that the Dalai Lama’s talk “is expected to bridge the cultural gap between neuroscientists and Buddhist practitioners by pointing to the methods of observation and verification that lie at the heart of both science and Buddhism”.

--- in other words, you neuroscientists who are frothing at the mouth -- grow up.

OK, my wife, who is more intelligent and fair-minded than I am, said (I paraphrase):

"I love the Dalai Lama, perhaps more than any other public figure -- definitely more than any religious leader I know of, BUT what if they were doing the study with monks and the Pope was going to come over and address the symposium? How would you feel about it then?"

After I fumfa'd a bit to point out differences, I had to concede. At which point she said:

"I only mentioned it because if it were the Pope, I know I would feel differently about it. Science has been under attack from religion for too long for it not to be controversial. And controversial means some people think it's a great wonderful idea and other people think it will bring on the end of the world."

So OK, perhaps the people who invited him should have accounted for all that friction, but I still say, the WAY those scientists are going about their objections is stupid.


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