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Cafe Scientifique

Start: November 18, 2008 @ 7:30 pm
End: December 16, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

Organized by:
Dr. Carl Bajema
Email: bajemacj@gvsu.edu


Topic: “Bad to the Bone: Horrors! Can Our Genes Help Make Us Evil?” One of the most difficult problems in society today is understanding why some people intentionally inflict emotional and physical pain on others. Such intentional pain occurs not only on a local level–within families, with “friends,” or in work situations, but also on a national and international scale–witness Hitler’s Holocaust, Stalin’s notorious purges, and Chairman Mao’s knowing slaughter of tens of millions. Neuroscience and genetics are providing the potential for a revolution in our understanding of why “bad” people do what they do. Tonight’s freewheeling discussion will involve not only the latest in research finding, but also questions of free will and impact on the legal system. Be prepared for argument and for laughter! Presenter will be Barbara Oakley, author of Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend. In Barbara’s book, she discusses the results of latest scientific study into the genetic components involved with human behavior and examines human evil from a scientific perspective with recounting personal experiences that led her to research the topic, including episodes from her sister’s life and from her travels. She details recent advances in brain imaging and genetics that have implications for traditional views of evil, and discusses why a scientific understanding of evil is important. The biological based mental anomalies she covers include antisocial personality disorder, bipolar personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and schizoid personality disorder.

About Barbara Oakley, Ph.D., P.E.

Professor of Engineering, Oakland University

Barbara Oakley, PhD, PE is a professor of engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She is the author of “A Mind for Numbers,” (Penguin, 2014), and a co-instructor (with Terrence Sejnowski, the Francis Crick Professor of the Salk Institute) of the massive open online course “Learning How to Learn,” from Coursera, which, with nearly 200,000 students, is the largest course ever taught on how to learn. Dr. Oakley’s research focuses on the complex relationship between neuroscience and social behavior, and has been described as “revolutionary” by the Wall Street Journal. Oakley’s books have been praised by many leading researchers and writers, including Harvard’s Steven Pinker and E. O. Wilson, and National Book Award winner Joyce Carol Oates. Dr. Oakley was designated as an NSF New Century Scholar; she is also a recipient of the Oakland University Teaching Excellence Award (2013) and the National Science Foundation’s Frontiers in Engineering New Faculty Fellow Award. Dr. Oakley is an elected Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.