Mything Links

Since we publish a fair number of scientific reports here at The Horse (usually under the rubric, “Front Ears of Science”), we like to think we’re keeping up with the latest discoveries.

Hardly a week goes by, however, that some spoilsport doesn’t publish some new study that claims to turn previous findings inside out.

Nine years ago, in the Author’s Preface to my book of light verse, I urged readers to try writing some of their own:

“You may discover that writing light verse is a good way to shift gears in your brain – to let your neurons know (which is what neurons do) that you appreciate their versatility, and to let your left brain take a sabbatical from problem-solving to have some fun rummaging around in your right brain’s tool boxes and toy chests.”

So of course this week a professor of cognitive science at UC Irvine publishes an article calling the whole left brain/right brain model a myth. Gregory Hickok says the two hemispheres are pretty much alike and that they work together in most tasks that involve any complexity to speak of.

A myth? He can speak for himself. Most of us keep our myths in the right brain and our data in the left brain, at room temperature.

Prof. Hickok also pooh-poohs the idea of mirror neurons, which were supposed to explain how you know what I’m thinking of doing and vice-versa – the basis for learning by imitation and for empathy.

Even worse, he disputes the popular notion that we humans use only 10% of our brain power (See the current film, Lucy. On second thought, don’t – it wouldn’t engage anything close to 10% of your brain). Lucy starts using greater portions of her mental capacities and acquires a violent repertoire of computer animation and sound effects.

Next, the professor will no doubt attack one of my most cherished secrets of intellectual potential. I had learned from Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time that the total amount of energy in the universe is zero. The positive energy visible in light, heat, and matter is cancelled out by the negative energy of gravity.

Zero! Can you imagine?

That’s how much energy you have in your own brain on a bad day. I realized then that you or I could start our own universes at will, using zero energy, if only we could find the right trigger mechanism.

For me, that turned out to be looking sharply to the left and yelling, “FRP!”

Of course I can’t prove that this works (nor can the Professor prove it doesn’t) because it’s impossible to communicate with other universes, but I know for a fact that my latest creation is a universe in which myths about the brain are legally protected as endangered speciousness. But idiotic puns are perfectly legal.

Obviously, you have to use your right brain to create a wild, messy thing like a universe. Your left brain would decline the honor, rolling your eyes without even bothering to raise your eyebrows.

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About Al

Editors of The Horse You Rode In On (listed below) hail from Boston, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. All contributions are signed. When guest contributors are included, their comments will be signed in a manner consistent with their needs for discretion, witness protection, or yearning for personal adulation.