A short post for a silly and short topic.
After studying the brains of violent killers, rapists and robbers, German neurologist Gerhard Roth claims to have found a “dark patch” in the center of the brain — he calls it the evil spot, a genetic source of violent behavior.
Roth, a professor at the University of Bremen, told Germany news site Bild.de that he had shown short films to criminals and measured their brain activity. A small section at the front of their brains showed no reaction to violent scenes; it remained “dark” when shown dark scenes.
“Whenever there were brutal and squalid scenes, the subjects showed no emotions. In the areas of the brain where we create compassion and sorrow, nothing happened,” Roth said.
BioEdge, a blog dedicated to bioethics news, translated Roth’s German into English: “This is definitely the region of the brain where evil is formed and where it lurks.”
Much could be said and most of that wouldn’t do much good. We could talk about how regions of the brain lighting up doesn’t really tell us much (since there is that tricky causation/correlation issue to figure out). We could talk about how scientists, particularly those who want to get into the spotlight, are often overconfident in their results. But those things are implied by the nature of the story.
The real nugget of wisdom to glean is that the neurologist doesn’t attempt to look for the part of the human brain responsible for thinking those “evil” behaviors are evil in the first place. After all, the neurologist in today’s story is clearly a materialist who believes in nothing but physical forces; if he is not, he is not well-spoken either. So on the one hand, we have found where “evil is formed and where it lurks”, but we have no interest in finding the place that tells us what “evil” is or why we should care about it. Science without philosophy is a lot like religion without God: mechanically useful to some but with a near limitless capacity to do evil.