A Disgrace

Consider, if you will, Maria Popova’s review of Brain Culture: Neuroscience and Popular Media:

A book maligned by a positive reviewWhat makes Thornton’s take most compelling is the lucidity with which she approaches exactly what we know and don’t know about the brain. Every day, we’re bombarded with exponentially replicating headlines about new “sciences” like neuromarketing, which, despite the enormous budgets poured into them by the world’s shortcut-hungry Fortune 500, remain the phrenology of our time, a tragic manifestation of the disconnect between how much we want to manipulate the brain and how little we actually know about its intricately connected, non-compartmentalizable functions.

Actually, you’re probably better off if you don’t.

You know, everybody has a bad day, sometimes. But if e’er there was a book review that made me not want to read something I otherwise might find compelling, this would be it.

Normally, I consider The Atlantic a reputable endeavor. They ought to be embarrassed for publishing such tripe.

I remember, once, an interview in a European music magazine, in which a prominent recording engineer described Belle & Sebastian as the sort of music he would give a good grade to if they were first-year students.

I like Belle & Sebastian. But I also understood his point.

If Maria Popova was a first-year writing student, I would tell her to change her major.

Really, I can’t think of a review that has ever made me not want to read a book I might otherwise be interested in.

But this … for a “good review”, it’s awful. Davi Johnson Thornton, the author of Brain Culture, ought to demand an apology.

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