I recently came across Robert Epstein’s scathing review of Mark Turner’s new book The Origin of Ideas in the March/April edition of Scientific American: Mind. I thought some followers of this blog might interested in reading it as well if not for Epstein’s sheer capacity to turn a phrase. Epstein was a student of Skinner (literally), so it’s no surprise the review is negative, but to give some feeling of just how negative it is the review is titled “Cognitive Pseudoscience: The Origin of Ideas: Blending, Creativity, and the Human Spark.” He ends with:
In fact, Turner violates just about every rule of good science: abstract concepts are treated as if they are real things; no aspects of the theory allow you to measure anything; it makes no specific predictions that can be tested; and so on. And then there’s the tautology: blending explains creativity, Turner says, but people “create blends.” See the problem?
Toward the end of the book, Turner finally gives up the farm, admitting that he is “skeptical” that experimental research on his blending model could ever be conducted. Reading The Origin of Ideas, in other words, is nothing like reading On the Origin of Species. It is more like reading Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams; its elegance and scope are reassuring until you realize you’ve been hoodwinked. At least Freudian theory had lots of sex.
You can read the whole review HERE.