Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I believe that many people form their own form of phrenology.  I use to think that certain parts of the brain handle certain thoughts.  Now I know that the parts have different functions but work together to form thought.  I was also fascinated by the ideas of bumps increasing certain parts.  Can people not be gifted in parts of the inner brain?  Does size matter.  There exists a slight correlation in size of brain and intelligence, but there is outliers.  I can see why people would think that phrenology is real.  There was obviously an expectancy bias and any evidence to the contrary could easily be worked around by redefining brain parts. The study of the belief of phrenology could be its own psychological research.  While looking at the old models of the phrenologic brain I would like to point out that not all different functions were listed.  In addition, some were way to specific and biased to time and place of the creators.  Do those who believe in multiple gods not have the part of the brain for believing in one god.  In addition, I have to assume that the creators of the models knew they were guessing.  It must involved a little bit of cognitive ignorance.  After all, there is no reason to believe that bakery and accounting math need different parts of the brain exclusively.  Biologically, this theory is flawed, because parts of the brain would not have been created at a certain time but be the result of a past environment.  Also, how could psycho-dynamic forces exist in a cookie cutter brain.    


  1. Alexander,
    Your post brought up many interesting points that other posts on phrenology did not. I had not thought of the idea that the creators of phrenology were guessing, but not I believe that that is a very large possibility. I think they just wanted to make people believe in it, possibly to change attitudes and views in society, or to make money.

  2. Alex,

    Similar to Nick, I can see how early phrenologists could have utilized their pseudo-science to make money. This strategy relates to how people lie for their own ends, regardless of truthfulness. In this context, I find phrenology an embarrassment to all the other sciences.

  3. Alex,
    I, similar to Nick, had not thought about the possibility that the scientists themselves may have known that there was a chance their phrenology theory had its falsehoods and that brings up an interesting perspective. It makes me wonder if scientists today also question their theories validity as well.

  4. "elephant"
    I agree that confirmation bias was involved in the development of phrenology. Despite Gall's hypotheses on bumps in the head determining character, I still find it incredible that Gall identified thirty-seven different parts and functions of the human brain. Going past the structuralism, the flaws of phrenology reveals the beauty of the human brain.

  5. Goobel,

    Your ideas on the origin of phrenology have me wondering how these "phrenologists" kept a straight face as they lied to the scientific community. They obviously had no idea what they were talking about, but believed and still maintained their standard. I wish we could test this.