What could explain Anders Breivik's shooting attack in Oslo, Norway? While this was being debated from the angles of politics, religion, and sociology, I wanted to ask this from the viewpoint of neurobiology.
Francis Crick, one of the premier biologists of the 20th century, passed away July 28, 2004, in San Diego. On his 88th birthday, I brought him chocolates and spent the day with him in his home in La Jolla.
In the wake of the Aurora movie theater shooting, many people had the same questions: What kind of derangement is indicated by the horrific acts of James Holmes? What is wrong with his brain? How will his mental state play out in the courts?
To the extent that consciousness is useful, it is useful in small quantities, and for very particular kinds of tasks. It's easy to understand why you would not want to be consciously aware of the intricacies of your muscle movement, but this can be less intuitive when applied to your perceptions, thoughts, and beliefs, which are also final products of…