Forty years of science has complicated Jaynes's bicameral mind theory. Even when the book debuted, critics slammed The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind for extrapolating loose evidence. "Jaynes confuses the nature of people's thought processes with the nature of their theories of their thought processes," wrote MIT philosophy professor Ed Block in the New York Times. Research has remixed and debunked much of Jaynes's assumptions, with scholars like Noam Chomsky carving out his own theories on language and consciousness and Philip K. Dick embracing it for science fiction.
(Dick wrote a praising letter to Jaynes just after the publication of Bicameral Mind, admitting that he heard nothing before his book "could account for the exquisitely beautiful voice, the inner-voice, which I heard off and on for eleven months," and that the female voice "poetically disclosed to me an entire cosmology." He had his own theories, too.)
Still, the bicameral mind still lingers on the horizon, beyond scientific evidence, mesmerizing psychologists, philosophers, and TV creators alike. "The study of consciousness is on the rise in neuroscience labs around the world, but the science isn’t yet close to capturing subjective experience," Veronique Greenwood recently wrote in Nautilus magazine. "That’s something Jaynes did beautifully, opening a door on what it feels like to be alive, and be aware of it."