Robert A. Burton, M.D.

Robert A. Burton, M.D.

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Robert A. Burton, M.D.

Robert Burton, M.D. graduated from Yale University and University of California at San Francisco medical school, where he also completed his neurology residency. At age 33, he was appointed chief of the Division of Neurology at Mt. Zion-UCSF Hospital, where he subsequently became Associate Chief of the Department of Neurosciences. His non-neurology writing career includes three critically acclaimed novels. He is the author of On Being Certain and A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind. He lives in Sausalito, California.

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Robert Burton Talks about On Being Certain at Google

Dr. Robert Burton visits Google's Mountain View, CA headquarters to discuss his book "On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not." This event took place on June 9, 2008, as part of the Authors@Google series.

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Q & A

If you could visit any time, place, or person, when, where or who would you visit?
I’d like to be able to report back from a front row seat at the Big Bang. 
If you could be any other person, animal, plant, etc… for a day, who or what would you be and why?
Imagine being a giant redwood deep in a redwood grove, with a thousand year perspective on the daily comings and goings of what we smugly think of as history.
What music, food, drink, toys, etc… do you keep by your side when you're writing?
On my writing desk, directly beneath the flat panel monitor, are three small figures--a small stone copy of a 4500 year old Cycladian statue of a man thinking, Buddha meditating, and an obsidian Mayan head. On a side table, watching me, is an original phrenology head by R.F. Freda.  When not working in silence, Glen Gould is humming in the background, and Bach is singing in the foreground.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life? How?
Samuel Beckett--for his breathtaking ability to elegantly portray the exhausting, incomprehensible, yet hilarious tour de farce of a mind circling around itself. Once academia realizes that our knowledge of the mind ultimately is constructed from subjective and unreliable reports from the battlefield of human experience, Beckett will be admitted into the pantheon of the truly great neuroscientists. 
What do you enjoy doing the most with your free time?
Playing poker. After all, what’s better than an art form that rewards intentional cunning, lying, deceit, and manipulation. Or, as Walter Mathau once said, “Poker combines all the worst aspects of capitalism that made America great.”

by the author

A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind

Robert A. Burton, M.D.
St. Martin's Griffin

What if our soundest, most reasonable judgments are beyond our control? Despite 2500 years of contemplation by the world’s greatest minds and the more...

Available In:

Book eBook
On Being Certain

Robert A. Burton, MD
St. Martin's Griffin

You recognize when you know something for certain, right? You "know" the sky is blue, or that the traffic light had turned green, or where you were on the...

Available In:

Book eBook