On Wednesday, a second piece of spurious, brain-based punditry made its way into the opinion pages of a major newspaper. This time it’s an essay in the Los Angeles Times from psychiatrist and self-help guru Daniel G. Amen, a medical maverick who runs a chain of private brain-scanning facilities across the country. Amen doesn’t want to read the minds of swing voters; he wants to study the candidates themselves.
The proposal is doubly outlandish: first, for asserting that it’s possible to distinguish a tyrant from a peacemaker-or a philanderer from a loving spouse-on the basis of a few single photon emission computed tomography scans; and second, for suggesting that we might want to use this putative ability to make a priori judgments about anyone. (What if one of our presidential candidates turned out to have a Hitler brain-would we throw him in precautionary lockup?) Amen isn’t indulging in Swiftian irony, either. He truly believes that brain scans can predict behavior and that it’s a good idea to screen the general population for neuropathology: “I’m just always looking for the perfect brain,” he recently told the Sacramento Bee. “If I date someone long enough, they get scanned.”
(all via Hit and Run).