Okay, so I see this movie about a severed corpus callosum (okay, I didn’t actually watch it - I simply saw the web page title and started thinking willy-nilly with no thought for decorum), and it makes me think about how with genes, for example, we define their effects by what the organism is like withOUT them - that is how we define their functionality. And I think "Wow, it's so damaging, that this is science's approach to discovering things. Why can't they just observe whatever it is?" But obviously you can't (or, we don't know how to) observe a gene, for example. so then I thought "Well, you can observe an arm."
Imagine if someone wanted to figure out what an arm did, and to do so they cut it off and watched the behavior of the organism afterwards. The interesting thing is that the organism would begin to compensate immediately - by perhaps a redistribution of weight, by simply "making do" with their whole arm instead. To make an equation of their behavior, it would be: Body & Behavior with 2 arms - 1 arm = Body & Behavior with 1 arm + Compensation. There is something NEW in this equation: Compensation. So, the question is: How do you separate function from compensation when you are practicing this science-by-deletion?
On top of that, you STILL need the observational component - a lot of compensation behavior of course is directly related to the missing component and you need a control to compare.
This, in turn, makes me think of the Behaviorist/Holist debate - do we learn about the world around us by breaking it up or by looking in great detail (at one thing at a time) or in a wider-perspective kind of observational way?
Of course the answer is: a little of both. It really pretty much always is, but people get so caught up in what their training is that they find it difficult to switch their perspective back and forth.
So here’s a friendly public reminder: don’t be an extremist.