Talking Up Brains

There are several good reasons for ensuring that the news from Brainland is communicated imaginatively and effectively to the widest possible audience. Gone are the days, if they ever existed, when the cause of brain science was served by scientists talking only to scientists.

With all that’s happening in the world of brain science and the increased interest across the general population in keeping mentally fit, anyone with an interest in talking up brains – that is, promoting the wonders of this amazing creation and the vital importance of keeping it healthy – has before them an amazing opportunity in the history of human communications:

Let’s not screw it up.

Why is this such a vital moment? It’s not just a matter of the huge problems faced by humanity, or the political and economic challenges facing the communities of interest charged with sorting out the solutions. It’s not just the social challenges of getting people to cooperate better when mankind has lurched its way to something like a reasonable solution, as with the politicians who created The League of Nations, or the scientists who uncovered the fraud perpetrated on the credulous by the nonsense of creationism.

Still we fight with each other; still there are idiots who think that “The End of Days” is a responsible foundation on which to educate our children. What IS in these people’s brains?

Part of the problem historically, and what sits at the heart of our opportunity now, is that information technology is enabling people to build and sustain bigger networks, with more effective search facilities and more responsible data management. Dunbar’s famous numberpostulated that the optimum number for a human social network was 150, a theme humorously picked up in David Wong’s Monkeysphere.

(Citing the famous line about one death being a tragedy and a million a statistic, Wong suggests that the human primate just can’t be bothered to care about the monkeys he cannot see. And curiously, he credits that quote to entertainer Kevin Federline (?) rather than the more commonly cited psychopath, Joseph Stalin, who had more experience than Federline, indeed more than just about everyone, of testing these differences in arithmetic.)

And why is this increased technological capability important?

Simply because the brain is a hugely complicated organism, made up of almost as many neurons as there are neurologists studying them. And the biggest lesson in putting together what we hope is a useful and fascinating website is that if we could map all the neurons in the brain against all those neurologists, and then add in the wealth of social and scientific experts that make up the worldwide brain commentariat, we would be lost without the ICT and algorhythmic capabilities of the modern day.

And next year it’ll be even better.