Sam Harris is not the only famous neuroscientist

Over at PZ Myers’ blog, Sam Harris was being criticized by a group of atheists.  One of them wrote:

And then some things he does bug me that even his critics don’t take issue with. Shouldn’t someone call him out for letting himself be called a neuroscientist all the time? He has the Ph.D., but AFAIK he has never earned a living as a neuroscientist, has no academic appointment or publication record other than a popular layman’s book on free will. He’s a neuroscientist in the same sense that those creationist biology Ph.Ds are biologists. Also, everyone politely ignores his book on meditation, which is full of the same fuzzy thinking he attacks in religious apologists. On politics, he’s overmatched by the likes of Chomsky even if, like me, you happen to agree with him more often than with Chomsky. So what? Feet of clay.

Which led someone else to reply:

Okay, that part I totally agree with. I’m kinda glad I’m not the only one. However, you say he’s a neuroscientist like creation PhDs are biologists. I think a more apt analogy would be that he’s a neuroscientist in the same way Mayim Bialik is a neuroscientist.

Bam!  The perfect analogy.  Sam Harris is a neuroscientist in the same way Mayim Bialik is a neuroscientist.

For those of you who don’t know, Bialik is an actress who did obtain a PhD in Neuroscience.  But after getting her PhD, she left academia and devotes her time to acting.  And she even admits she no longer follows neuroscience.

Wanna know the best part?  Mayim tells us -” Sam Harris and I were in graduate school together.”

Like I said, the perfect analogy. Then again, we might argue that Bialik is even more of a neuroscientist than Harris, as her B.S. was also in Neuroscience.

65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals

One Famous Neuroscientist


Is Like the Other

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4 Responses to Sam Harris is not the only famous neuroscientist

  1. Dhay says:

    > Like I said, the perfect analogy. Then again, we might argue that Bialik is even more of a neuroscientist than Harris, as her B.S. was also in Neuroscience.

    I see that Mayim* Bialik’s B.S. degree was in the hybrid subject of “neuroscience, Hebrew studies, and Jewish studies” — Wiki. Not exactly pure neuroscience, but far more so than Sam Harris’ philosophy B.S.

    Bialik earned her Ph.D. in 2007, her dissertation being an investigation of hypothalamic activity in patients with Prader–Willi syndrome, titled “Hypothalamic regulation in relation to maladaptive, obsessive-compulsive, affiliative, and satiety behaviors in Prader-Willi syndrome.” — . So it’s a pure neuroscience PhD, then.

    This contrasts with Harris’ hybrid PhD in what looks like — from how it is catalogued and tabbed — neuroscience and philosophy of mind.

    So Mayim Bialik is definitely more a neuroscientist than is Harris.


    From the third-linked article: “You’ve posted about the fact that you are both religious and into science.” So science and religion are, on her testimony, definitely not zero-sum, then.

    And heck, she’s as qualified to hold her opinion as Harris is to hold his; or more so.

    (* Mayim = Water: “Rejoicing, we will draw water from the wells of salvation” — Isaiah.)

  2. Billy Squibs says:

    Wikipedia lists Bialik’s occupation as “Actress, neuroscientist, author”. Make of that what you will.

  3. Doug Evans says:

    Several years ago I asked a friend, a nuclear physicist (who spend most of his time designing Thorium reactors), what the qualifications are to earn the title “scientist”. His answer is “there is none” and that “scientist” is more of an adjective than a job description or title.

  4. Dhay says:

    Jerry Coyne has now given attention to Mayim Bialik in his blog post dated 08 July 2016 and entitled “Let accommodationism blossom: Mayim Bialik reconciles science and religion”. It’s standard Coyne fare — either you hate religion, or you are one of his hated accommodationist types and he’ll rant about that — so Bialik gets up his nose.

    (Small point: has Coyne finally dropped his habitual trademarking of “accommodationism” and “accommodationist”?)

    Why I’m responding in this thread about it, is this part of Coyne’s deprecation of Bialik:

    Putting aside the question about whether someone with a Ph.D. who doesn’t do science is really a “scientist” …

    Join the club, Coyne, we’ve been saying that for a long time now about Sam Harris’ pretensions to the title of “neuroscientist”.

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