Brain Surgeon—or Brain Addled?
by Donald R. Prothero
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald
What is it with brain surgeons? The strange ideas of leading GOP presidential candidate and retired brain surgeon Ben Carson have been making the headlines a lot lately. I have previously written about about brain surgeon Dr. Eben Alexander, who launched a new career on the lecture circuit after writing a bestselling book, Proof of Heaven, in which he claimed he visited heaven while in a coma, then come back to life. But as the detailed investigation showed, he made all sorts of statements that showed his “trip to heaven” was a hallucination. Even worse, he said things demonstrating that he doesn’t seem to know the first thing about neurophysiology; he appears to just know how to cut brains.
Then there are other weird beliefs by otherwise well educated doctors. Take, for example, Dr. Paul Broun of Georgia. He was elected to Congress, yet he said “All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior. There’s a lot of scientific data that I found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I believe that the Earth is about 9,000 years old. I believe that it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.” Unsurprisingly, Carson, Broun, and the other fundamentalist M.D.s in politics not only deny evolution and Big Bang cosmology, but also climate change and other aspects of science that doesn’t fit the party line…