“Well, you know we only use about 10 per cent of our brain.”
I don’t like when people tell me this. Someday, I hope to acquire the guts to issue the following rejoinder: “Which 10 per cent do you use?” But because I don’t like confrontation, I usually just make a face of mute disappointment and change the subject.
If you read LWON, you already know we use 100 per cent of our brain. That’s not the point of this post. But you know what is? I’ve spread similarly outrageous rumours about the brain.
This week, my esteemed colleagues will try to convince you that chemistry is the most nightmarish discipline to cover as a science journalist, or maybe archaeology or biology or physics. They will be wrong. The most dangerous science is neuroscience, because it gives journalists so much rope to use to hang ourselves.
The brain is such an agreeable little lump of meat. Swing a tennis racket and neurons fire in your motor cortex. Try not to smoke a cigarette after two glasses of mulled wine, and extra blood flows to the executive manager in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
It’s so seductive to try to explain its complicated behaviours by pointing to specific functional areas as though they were cuts of meat on a butcher’s chart.