09 February 2009

From The Back Pages of the Wall Street Journal

This is from an AllState ad on the back page of today's Wall Street Journal. They sell insurance to the parents of 16 year olds. They are hoping to sell more by taking out this ad. They claim that some anatomic parts of our brain don't develop until after age 16. Maybe 18 or maybe even in our 20s: important parts that are critical in coming to thoughtful conclusions. I thought the ad was splendid and Super Bowl-worthy, but they were probably outbid by Budweiser. I don't know if the anatomic part is correct or not though it seems obvious to most of us older folks that there must be some mind functions that take a good deal longer to develop than others. I had always imagined those later developing functions to be the result of experience and learning and maybe some decline in various hormonal influences, but maybe deep anatomy is just as important as surface anatomy in our destinies. I say older folks because much of what we know about these things is often the result of losing them, or at least noticing a decline.

I wonder if there is a condition of persistent holes-in-the-brain? That is, maybe some people never do fill in that hole and thus reason badly throughout their lives? That could offer an explanation of the pathology illustrated by a couple of the letters to the editor in the same paper on this same day, especially those by Bill Moyers and one of his acolytes. Moyers was squealing because he had been skewered so deftly by Danny Pearl's father a few days earlier, and the acolyte thought that because we grieve we can't reason correctly. The third letter in the sequence hits a home run apparently without a lot of energy expended: "At what point do those who participate in the normalization of evil cease to be useful idiots and become evil themselves?"

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