The results of his scan, he suggests, show "a science in its infancy":
So what were these blotches and streaks on the pictures of my brain? Were they the cause of consciousness or its effect? Or did they just indicate that something was happening in the brain without giving any clear indication of what? Either one day science will answer these questions or they are unanswerable, and the one thing the self-conscious mind cannot know is itself.
His neuroscientist agrees on the infancy of his discipline, while Colin Blakemore, a highly distinguished professor of neuroscience I recall meeting as a minister, tells him that its equipment is still at the stage of the telescope used by Galileo. And that is the point. If important figures in the field make the claims they do in its early years, what bulldozing of the human spirit will they attempt when it is more advanced? As for whether or not science will provide answers, for an entire generation of scientists, led in Britain by Richard Dawkins, that is no longer the question. For them the unanswerable does not exist, or has long been answered, and their public appears to be growing.
On one level it is pointless to complain. The explorations of science and prudent implementation of the results are one way we advance. Or regress, when the science turns out to be phony. In the West free debate can put a brake on Faustian ambition, though it cannot entirely thwart it. A democratic, science-based consensus can sometimes be damaging too: it is enough to examine the role of the cognitive sciences in British education. As Appleyard suggests, good science should make us cautious, if only because it tends to throw up ever more complexity.
The part of the brain that is the seat of arrogance, I imagine, is the amygdala (the source of aggressivity). That for scepticism and doubt is presumably the frontal lobe, alongside self-control, conscience and so on. When we reach the stage of neuro-engineering can anything be done to diminish the first and reinforce the second?