Interlude XI

"I swear, if I read another word about Phineas Gage—and this goes double for David Reimer—I am going to scream. Why do science writers always recount the same illustrative case studies? Are they all just plagiarizing each other out of laziness, or could it really be that in the vast history of human inquiry, we've learned nothing more than can be gleaned from the same half-dozen anecdotes?"

"Illustrative case studies are hard to come by! It takes some incredibly rare coincidences for an accident to take out exactly enough of the brain to leave the patient alive but with deficits demonstrating the functionality of the frontal lobe, or for a boy with an identical twin brother to be raised as girl after a botched circumcision—"

"More like circum-trans-ion if you ask me!"

"I didn't. Anyway, it's not like we could deliberately invent such horrors to inflict on human subjects, just to find out what would happen."

"It's not?"

"Well, it would be unthinkably unethi—I don't like that look on your face."