Mind Matters

Science and indigenous knowledge

Michael Corballis May 06, 2020

There is a call in many parts of the world for indigenous knowledge and values to be incorporated alongside more universal understandings. In New Zealand, this has come under the umbrella of Mātauranga Māori, a body of knowledge encompassing the traditional Māori way of viewing the world. This raises two important questions: How should Mātauranga Māori be integrated with “western” … Read More

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Enlightenment when?

Michael Corballis Mar 22, 2020

I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the close of the 1980s, both anti-racist and anti-sexist initiatives in … Read More

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Exclusive language

Michael Corballis Oct 07, 2019

What is language? We generally assume that it a facility unique to humans, allowing us to share what’s in and on our minds. We can tell of our plans, our past exploits, our knowledge. It also allows us to lie. And yet there are vast numbers of people we can’t talk to, because they speak a different language. Speech is … Read More

Rape: Through a glass darkly

Michael Corballis Oct 01, 2019

The following is a summary notice of a talk given to an academic audience in my university (the author and location shall be nameless): In this paper I seek to uncover law’s ontological force as it reveals itself in the rape trial. It is common for survivors of sexual violence to refer to their interaction with the criminal justice system … Read More

Messing with the Unconscious

Michael Corballis Nov 15, 2018

It appears that there is something of a panic, especially in our universities, over the possibility of unconscious biases, especially against minority groups. This has led to workshops and publicity material designed help us recognise our biases and correct them. Much of the impetus for this has been driven by a psychological test known as the implicit association test (IAT). Read More

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Pinker and Pinker

Michael Corballis Oct 16, 2018

Steven Pinker is an optimist. In his two recent books, he paints an increasingly rosy picture of human civilization. In The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011), he shows how human violence has declined over the centuries. In Enlightenment Now (2018), he tells us that, besides becoming less violent, we live longer, and are wealthier, heathier, happier, safer, and more … Read More

Rape: Through a glass darkly

Michael Corballis May 11, 2018

The following is a summary notice of a talk to be given to an academic audience (the author and location shall be nameless): "In this paper I seek to uncover law’s ontological force as it reveals itself in the rape trial. It is common for survivors of sexual violence to refer to their interaction with the criminal justice system as … Read More

Who’s afraid of Noam Chomsky?

Michael Corballis Feb 26, 2018

Me. But let’s press on regardless. Noam Chomsky is a polarising figure in modern intellectual life. Best known in popular discourse for his radical criticism of US foreign policy, he has written countless best-selling book on this and related political topics. It is as a philosopher and linguist, though, that he is likely to be best remembered intellectually, … Read More

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Science woes

Michael Corballis Dec 18, 2017

The following is a slightly amended extract from an address I gave to the Science Graduation ceremony at the University of Otago, on 16 December, 2017: I think science is in some trouble these days. Many still see it as inaccessible and remote, and at the same time immoral and dangerous. Even our own Ernest Rutherford is wrongly blamed for … Read More