Monthly Archives: June 1982

THE BRAIN [1982 article]

Published in Omni circa 1982. I owe this assignment and all my others at this magazine to the late Kathleen Stein, my editor there — a former classmate at Bard College and flatmate in New York during one summer. — J.R.

The Arts: TV

Jonathan Rosenbaum

How far can the human braln go in delvlng into its own workings? An

ambitious, new eight-part television series — being produced by WNET

for airing this fall — broaches this question at the same time that it

partially answers it, byproviding us with a veritable Cook’s tour

through the state of contemporary brain research. “What curious art the

brain, too finely wrought, /Preys on herself, and is destroyed by thought,”

glumly opined eighteenth century writer Charles Churchill, in an epistle

addressed to artist William Hogarth. But Churchill’s philosophical lament,

quite apart from its odd characterization of the brainas essentially

feminine, can’t hold water in relation to the healthy self-preying instinct

adopted, by the makers of The Brain and all that it uncovers.

“It’s totally addictive to go into this,” science editor Richard Hutton, a

writer and producer on the series, admitted to me about his own perusal

of brain research, in preparation for the eight one-hour shows.… Read more »

SCIENCE: GOOD, BAD AND BOGUS (book review)

From the Village Voice (June 1, 1982). — J.R.

SCIENCE: GOOD, BAD AND BOGUS by Martin Gardner. Prometheus, $18.95.

As an old fan of Fads and Fallcies in the name of Science, Martin Gardner’s classic ’50s “study in human gullibility,” I’ve been looking forward to a sequel for quite some time. This collection of 38 skeptical pieces about “pseudoscience” (from Uri Geller to UFOs, by way of ESP) and “eccentric fringes” (such as black holes, catastrophe theory, and talking apes) isn’t that sequel, but it’s the next best thing — an elegant paste-up of articles and book reviews Gardner has written over the past three decades.

Fads and Fallacies took up a veritable rogues’ gallery of cranks, bumblers, and hustlers through the ages — like Wilbur Gleen Voliva, who thought the earth was shaped like a pancake, or Colonel Dinshah Ghadiali, whose Spectro-Chrome Therapy prescribed colored lights and a proper diet for every ailment. Thanks to the warm amusement of the man who brought us The Annotated Alice, these characters were often imbued with a certain Gogolian density even as Gardner dispassionately tore their science to shreds. Faced with his less humorous contemporaries in Science: Good, Bad and Bogus, Gardner has to forgo much of this novelistic bent — an aesthetic loss, in some ways, but also a practical gain.… Read more »