David Brooks` Lonely Struggle Against The Sailerite Conventional Wisdom
October 13, 2009, 03:13 PM
A+
|
a-
Print Friendly and PDF
In the pages of the New York Times, David Brooks once more bravely explore pathways beyond Sailerism's complete stranglehold on the mass media.

In "The Young and the Neuro," Brooks reports on the conference of the Social and Affective Neuroscience Society’s, where all the scientists were "so damned young, hip and attractive." Brooks then proceeds to recount the usual grab bag of studies about how different parts of the brain activate when shown pictures of people of different races or whatever, and sums up:

I suspect that the work will take us beyond the obsession with I.Q. and other conscious capacities and give us a firmer understanding of motivation, equilibrium, sensitivity and other unconscious capacities.
Isn't it a shame how Linda Gottfredson makes $50k per speech to corporate executives while poor Malcolm Gladwell barely ekes out a living? *

Unfortunately, Brooks' column about brain scans isn't very persuasive because there aren't any pictures of brains in it. As every editor knows, a picture of a brain in an article about brains makes the article convincing. A 2006 study in Cognition showed that "assertions about psychology — even implausible ones like �watching television improved math skills� — seem much more believable to laypeople when accompanied by images from brain scans."

(You know what would be the perfect "social cognitive neuroscience" experiment? Do brain scans on people while they are being shown pictures of brain scans. The part of the brain that lights up could be renamed the Credulity Lobe.)

For example, here is a scan of David Brooks' brain during his daily reading of iSteve. As you can see, the experience is stimulating both the Man-I-Wish-I-Could-Say-Interesting-Stuff-Like-That and the But-I-Can't-Or-I'll-Lose-My-Job-So-I'll-Say-the-Opposite sectors of his brain.

You just can't argue with Science.

——————- * By the way, Malcolm's new article on football and concussions is pretty good.