Altman, Lawrence K. "Can the Brain Provide Clues to Intelligence? New York Times, 24

 

Altman, Lawrence K. "Can the Brain Provide Clues to Intelligence? New York Times, 24
September 1991, p. C3.

Biological reductionism is thriving in Science and other mass media. Here is just another
example of it. This physician writes: "The search for biological and physical correlates of
intellect has taken many strange turns, like phrenologists' attempts to relate the bumps on the
head to mental abilities. But more sophisticated methods are now available for analyzing the
brain and may one day produce some jewel of discovery from this muddy arena." Here is the
admission that not much has been produced but an underscoring, nonetheless, that something
may derive from the "more sophisticated analysis" now available. Failure in the past is no
indication that one's favorite assumption is wrong.

"...(A) few scientists believe they are on the brink of finding clues to the most fundamental
questions of human intelligence."

Although this kind of research has been going on since Paul Broca, this physician writes
"Studying the brains of geniuses and gifted people has not received much scientific attention, but
attitudes are changing, and Dr. Schnable (an expert) said that up to a few dozen scientists are
exploring ways to do such research, though they have not held a formal meeting."

"Techniques for studying the most fundamental aspects of the cell and genetics are rapidly
advancing. Scientists hope that someday they will be able to develop them to probe for
anatomical and biochemical correlates of gifted minds and various kinds of intelligence."

And here is the way he ends: "(T)hey (brain researchers) are guided by a long history of research
experience that has shown that scientists who look long and hard at microscopic slides from a
wide enough selection often detect new and important patterns. The first attempts are often crude
and the moment of recognition often comes unexpectedly. But those can be the moments that
create new branches of science."

The hope persists.