Banned Books Week makes me think of Steven Pinker's work on language, in particular the concept of "word magic". He wrote a nice article for The Atlantic a couple of years ago called "Freedom's Curse" on government censorship of the media; it serves as a solid starting point for his argument, which is expanded in some of his scholarly works. While I'm not advocating for carpet-bombing the classroom with the f-word (even though Pinker's market argument would apply there for students & teachers just as much as it does on the radio or on TV), the slope is too slippery when books get banned. As Aristotle said, "it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." Let's take this week as an opportunity to celebrate intellectual freedom and the important role that libraries and librarians play in protecting it.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Observatory - Clues to Human Thought Found in Worm’s Brain - NYTimes.com
Misleading title for an article that feels ... shoddy and overly excited (even for a brain nerd like me). I thought we learned from the Human Genome Project that it's not just about the genes, it's about the proteins (and the cell-cell connectivity and communication patterns, but we'll leave that for another day). Griping aside, it sounds like the marine ragworm will made a nice model organism to help chart out the evolution of the human brain.