The Morbid Anatomy Museum recently acquired a 19th-century phrenological death mask. Liza Young, a museum studies student at St. John's University, tracked down its history.
First, though, Young supplies a quick reminder of what phrenology was meant to do and what that meant about the people whose heads were most likely to end up as the models for practice busts.
To briefly sum up the essence of a fascinating practice, each lump of the skull was believed to correspond to a particular moral or immoral temperament localized within a specific area of the brain, which would swell or dip in relation to the volume of the temperament’s presence.
In order to hone the new science, phrenologists studied the skulls of exceptional characters on the opposing ends of the spectrum: the most brilliant of men and the most errant. However, the only abundant cache of skulls available was provided by the local executioner. Yes, following death by guillotine or some such unfortunate fate, scientists would make a cast of the head, now relieved of its body, and study the plaster copy for the lumps of the brain that would, they believed, mark the subject as the criminal he was now known to be. While it cannot be stated indisputably that the bust in question was cast from a criminal (the length of his neck suggests he was not guillotined, unlike these men), it is safe to say that he was indeed dead. This conclusion is evidenced by the opening of his eyes, which would have been unbearable for a living model. Understanding the ultimate end of the model is very likely as close to identifying him as I will able to come, so let’s put a pin in that and move forward to where this man lived out his life before it was cut short.
Princeton University psych prof Susan Fiske published an open letter denouncing the practice of using social media to call out statistical errors in psychology research, describing the people who do this as “terrorists” and arguing that this was toxic because of the structure of social science scholarship, having an outsized effect on careers.
Blue writes, “Peter Watts has be stricken with debilitating pain, loss of range of motion and motor control. Watts’ doctors remain baffled despite a battery of tests, and Watts has reached out to his fans to ask for their theories and ideas as to what might be causing his illness.”
Today, I’ve launched a very special Kickstarter with two friends, Timothy Daly and Lawrence Azerrad. A year in the making (and many more years on our minds), the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition is the first vinyl release of the stunning golden phonograph record launched by NASA in 1977 aboard the Voyager spacecraft, one […]
If you own a dog, you’ve most likely heard of BarkBox – the monthly subscription box for dogs. What started as a simple idea to try out the subscription model on pet owners has since developed a cult following of dog lovers. If you haven’t given it a try yet, this one month free deal is the […]
With the iPhone headphone jack having gone by the wayside, we’re excited about the addition of the FRANKLIN Bluetooth Headphones in our store. These headphones are foldable so they’re easy to carry around, but most importantly, they pack impressive sound. Our biggest struggle with Bluetooth headphones is the worry of them dying at the worst moment. This pair lasts an impressive 8-10 […]
Evan Kimbrell, founder of the digital agency Sprintkick, recently released a series of online courses that feature some of the best advice we’ve come across. These courses are well worth your time, and will save you from making many typical mistakes down the line if you ever want to start your own business.With this Business […]