Thursday, December 26, 2013

The only parargaph I don't like in Carl Zimmer's ...

... latest column in the NYT is this:

In our smaller-brained ancestors, the researchers argue, neurons were tightly tethered in a relatively simple pattern of connections. When our ancestors’ brains expanded, those tethers ripped apart, enabling our neurons to form new circuits.

Call me a paranoiac, a fringe member of the reality-based community, or whatever: I worry that this sounds too much like it's happening in individual brains, over the course of individual lifetimes, as opposed to what is actually meant: this is what you'd see if you made a film of snapshots of the the typical brain, over many generations, in an evolving species.

Trying to keep the voice active is commendable, especially when the topic is ... ooooo, Science. BOring. [Or so you worry your editors might think] ... but when writing about evolution, it's also worth keeping in mind how the denialists will seek to parse every frickin phrase; as in the familiar [snickerchortle] "Was your grandfather a monkey on your father or mother's side?" [/snickerchortle], &c.

All of the rest of the article is fascinating. This being Zimmer, that comes as no surprise.

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