Is the Brain Really Necessary?

Is the Brain Really Necessary
Is the Brain Really Necessary

“If we’re interested in what’s true rather than what just feels good, we will demand very high standards of evidence.” — Carl Sagan
“We are not here concerned with hopes or fears, only with the truth as far as our reason permits us to discover it.” — Charles Darwin

Let’s face it.
It’s a big world out there, and it’s full of many things that science can’t explain; if it wasn’t, then science would be out of a job. Science, after all, arose out of the need to explain the unexplained. But let’s face this also; the vast majority of events and occurrences that popular press and media claim are scientifically unexplainable, are not… unexplainable, that is.
Matters are confused by researchers and investigators grouping these strange stories into broad catagories — UFOs, ESP, ghosts, etc. — in an attempt to understand them. More confusion is caused when the same researchers and investigators make the mistake of putting forward inventive and far-reaching theories to try to explain some particular grouping of these stories that are believed (but not proven) to be related; and often these theorists make the further error of “explaining” the unexplained with the unexplained… asserting that ghosts can be explained as a form of telepathy does nothing to clear up either subject.
The reason it is a mistake in most cases to put forward these theories is the same reason most scientists avoid studying these strange stories, a reason given above… most of the stories being theorized about are not true, a simple fact that brings any theory based on these stories into definite question. Before useful theories can be put forward to explain the unexplained, we must know what occurrences really are unexplained. Some things happened; some things didn’t… and investigators need to know which is which.
This may sound a bit simplistic, but no one is seriously attempting to sort these stories out as far as I can tell. Believers take many stories on faith; sensationalists have no good reason to ask if a story making them money is true or not; and skeptics will often bend facts to make everything look perfectly explainable… even if it’s not. It’s the rare few who will simply examine all the facts around a story objectively with no pre-chosen opinion they want to prove.
And that’s why I started ANOMALIES. With each article I create, I slowly gather all information I can find on each event or topic and put it all together in one place, starting with the popular version of the stories found in mass media and working back to the original sources of the accounts, including even the contradictory information. It’s my hope that this approach will allow you — the reader — the ability to make an informed decision about what you choose to believe about any particular event. Articles are updated whenever I have new information and time, and new articles are added as often as possible; and, always, readers are encouraged to help out by suggesting new sources for expanding existing articles.

This was the question asked by British neurologist John Lorber when he addressed a conference of pediatricians in 1980. Such a frivolous sounding question was sparked by case studies Lorber had been involved in since the mid sixties. The case studies involve victims of an ailment known as hydrocephalus, more commonly known as water on the brain. The condition results from an abnormal build up of cerebrospinal fluid and can cause severe retardation and death if not treated.

Two young children with hydrocephalus referred to Lorber presented with normal mental development for their age. In both children, there was no evidence of a cerebral cortex. One of the children died at age three months, the second at twelve months was still following a normal development profile with the exception of the apparent lack of cerebral tissue shown by repeated medical testing. An account of the children was published in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.

Later, a colleague at Sheffield University became aware of a young man with a larger than normal head. He was referred to Lorber even though it had not caused him any difficulty. Although the boy had an IQ of 126 and had a first class honors degree in mathematics, he had “virtually no brain”. A noninvasive measurement of radio density known as CAT scan showed the boy’s skull was lined with a thin layer of brain cells to a millimeter in thickness. The rest of his skull was filled with cerebrospinal fluid. The young man continues a normal life with the exception of his knowledge that he has no brain.

Although anecdotal accounts may be found in medical literature, Lorber is the first to provide a systematic study of such cases. He has documented over 600 scans of people with hydrocephalus and has broken them into four groups: and the most severe group with 95% of the cranial cavity filled with cerebrospinal fluid. Of the last group, which comprised less than ten percent of the study, half were profoundly retarded. The remaining half had IQs greater than 100.

Skeptics have claimed that it was an error of interpretation of the scans themselves. Lorber himself admits that reading a CAT scan can be tricky. He also has said that one would not make such a claim without evidence. In answer to attacks that he has not precisely quantified the amount of brain tissue missing, he adds, “I can’t say whether the mathematics student has a brain weighing 50 grams or 150 grams, but it is clear that it is nowhere near the normal 1.5 kilograms.”

Many neurologists feel that this is a tribute to the brains redundancy and it’s ability to reassign functions. Others, however, are not so sure. Patrick Wall, professor of anatomy at University College, London states “To talk of redundancy is a copout to get around something you don’t understand.” Norman Geschwind, a neurologist at Bostons Beth Israel Hospital agrees: “Certainly the brain has a remarkable capacity for reassigning functions following trauma, but you can usually pick up some kind of deficit with the right tests, even after apparently full recovery.”

Democratic National Convention

 Democratic National Convention
Democratic National Convention

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Minority-Owned Business Testimonial

Thank you. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to come before Chairwoman Feeney and the entire Boston 2004 Committee to discuss the goals, efforts and record of the 2004 Democratic National Convention Committee, particularly in regard to involving the city’s communities and businesses in the first modern-day political convention to be held in this great city. I say “modern day” because this city has a long and storied history of hosting successful political gatherings, and I know this Convention will be no exception.

One of the many attractions of Boston as a Convention site is the cultural and workforce diversity that makes this one of the greatest cities in the world. Our commitment—and our record—in involving these communities is stronger and better than any Convention—Democrat or Republican—in the history of the two major political parties.

In fact, the Bay State Banner, the area’s most influential African American newspaper, says
“a closer look at the contracts that have been issued so far or promised by the city and the Democratic National Committee revealed substantial business being funneled to minority-owned companies.”

One of the first things the DNCC did when we arrived in Boston last summer was put our money where our mouth is, depositing $7 million in minority-owned and local banks. A total of $4 million was deposited in each of the minority-owned banks: $2 million to OneUnited Bank and $2 million to the Asian American Bank in Boston. That’s double the amount deposited in minority-owned banks in Los Angeles in 2004.

The second thing we did was hire staff to begin laying the personnel infrastructure to support the Convention. Currently, people of color make up almost 50 percent of our staff. Almost 50 percent our total staff is from the Boston area, as is 50 percent of our minority staff. Again,
I know of no other political convention that has demonstrated this kind of commitment to diversity and to its host city in hiring. And I want to make clear that we intend to build on
that commitment as we continue to hire the people necessary to run a Convention that will bring 5,000 delegates, 15,000 reporters, and thousands of additional visitors to the city.
We’re also proud to have as chair of the Convention Committee Alice Huffman, president
of the California NAACP and as chairman of the Convention, Bill Richardson, the only
Latino governor in the U.S.

In the past five months, our outreach staff has held close to 250 meetings and briefings with community groups, involving more than 2,000 people ranging from local elected officials to representatives of community groups throughout the Boston area, including African American, Latino, Asian American and women’s groups.

It’s important to note that the largest and most comprehensive contract let to date by the DNCC and the Host Committee is a $3.5 million construction contract. Two minority business enterprises—SAR Engineering and the Primary Group—are part of the management team on this project, and $2.8 million—more than half of the total contract—will be let to Boston area subcontractors. At least half of that amount—$1.4 million—is guaranteed for minority and women-owned businesses. That’s not rhetoric, that’s reality—real jobs for real people here in the Boston area, which, by the way, is more than President Bush can claim to have delivered for Boston since taking office.

We also applaud the Host Committee for its outreach efforts and in setting up a vendor directory for local businesses. Their work has been instrumental in giving local businesses a forum for their services.

We are committed to working with you and your constituents to maximize the many opportunities this Convention will bring. But we want to do it in a way that will not only bring in business during the Convention, but also help Boston area businesses build relationships that will last well past July. Many—in fact most—of these opportunities will come as the Convention gets closer and may not necessarily come directly from the Convention. It is important for us to encourage your constituent businesses to not only reach out to the Convention and the Host Committee, but to also reach out to each other. For example, while the Convention and Host Committee will be booking catering services, so will the many VIPs, corporations, and organizations coming to town. If one service is already booked by the Convention or the Host Committee, a simple referral to another catering service could result in a long-term business relationship for that other caterer. In fact—and I hesitate to say this—but since the Convention business ends after August, the companies that grab up the ancillary business have the better long-term business opportunities! I talked recently to one vendor in LA who said he continued to get business calls two years after the Convention had left town.

I want to thank the Committee for its support of the Convention and for the opportunity to discuss our plans with you. 151 days from today, when we gavel open our Convention at the Fleet Center, Boston will shine on the world’s stage as a diverse, vibrant and thoroughly world-class city. We could not be happier about our choice to come to Boston and thank everyone in this City for their extraordinary support.