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Scientists Gone Rogue

By Elizabeth Svoboda/Undark

Walter Freeman was itching for a shortcut. Since the 1930s, the Washington, D.C. neurologist had been drilling through the skulls of psychiatric patients to scoop out brain chunks in the hopes of calming their mental torment. But Freeman decided he wanted something simpler than a bone drill - he wanted a rod-like implement that could pass directly through the eye socket to penetrate the brain. He'd then swirl the rod around to scramble the patient's frontal lobes, the brain regions that control higher-level thinking and judgement.

Rummaging in his kitchen drawer, Freeman found the perfect tool: a sharp pick of the sort used to shear ice from large blocks. He knew his close colleague, surgeon James Watts, wouldn't sanction his new approach, so he closed the office door and did his "ice-pick lobotomies" - more formally, transorbital lobotomies - without Watts' knowledge.

Though the amoral scientist has been a familiar trope since Victor Frankenstein, we seldom consider what sets these technicians on the path to iniquity. Journalist Sam Kean's The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science, helps fill that void, describing how dozens of promising scientists broke bad throughout history - and arguing that the better we understand their moral decay, the more prepared we'll be to quash the next Freeman.

Continue reading "Scientists Gone Rogue" »
Posted on July 25, 2021

History Club

A People's History Of Thanksgiving

Where Is The Gold?
With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.
Continue reading "A People's History Of Thanksgiving" »
Posted on November 28, 2013
Chicago Blog Review

Chicago Blog Review: Fruit Slinger

A welcome blast of summer-friendly food porn on a daily basis.
Continue reading "Chicago Blog Review: Fruit Slinger" »
Posted on August 6, 2009

Scientists Gone Rogue

By Elizabeth Svoboda/Undark
What's more compelling is how the scientists justified their actions.

Posted on July 25, 2021

So You Think You Know What's Good For You?

By Ray Moynihan/The Conversation
"Wellness" is bullshit.

Posted on July 20, 2021

The Beauty Of Your Backyard

By SIU Press
From the minute eastern tailed-blue butterfly to the imperious red-winged blackbird and the reclusive coyote.

Posted on June 30, 2021

Kapow! Zap! Splat! How Comics Make Sound On The Page

By Victor Araneda Jure/The Conversation
Hearing with your eyes.

Posted on June 10, 2021


By Popkin/Boing Boing
Imagine Learning from Las Vegas as illustrated by Chris Ware.

Posted on June 1, 2021

The Disordered Cosmos

By Joshua Roebke/Undark
Prescod-Weinstein not only narrates her struggle to become a cosmologist, she advocates for all peoples whom physicists have undervalued. She praises the assistants and janitors, mostly people of color, whose labor permits theorists to ponder the universe daily, because "part of science is emptying the garbage."

Posted on May 27, 2021

Reassessing Mandela

By Colin Bundy and William Beinart/The Conversation
The suggestion that Mandela single-handedly achieved democracy is as intellectually threadbare as its mirror image: that he was responsible for the failure to transform social and economic relations after 1994.

Posted on May 12, 2021

Company C, 96th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

By SIU Press
Far removed from their native homelands, they found new promise in rural Illinois. These men, neighbors along the quiet Stateline Road in Lake County, decide to join the fighting at its most dangerous hour. The bonds of war become then the bonds of their new national identity.

Posted on May 6, 2021

MUSIC - They Flirted With Disaster.
TV - A Quincy Top 10.
POLITICS - The Traitor Who Is A Great Patriot.
SPORTS - Gambling At The Grate.

BOOKS - Scientists Gone Rogue.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - A People's History Of Uptown.

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