The president of the United States has the power to destroy life on earth. It follows that we should have some assurance that the president has a healthy brain, and that the public should therefore be entitled to view brain scans of candidates.
Dr. Daniel Amen is sitting on a database of 29,000 brain scans, including those of healthy people, drug addicts, schizophrenics, liars, geniuses, alcoholics, and the mentally challenged. No one has a better picture of the connection between healthy brains and functioning humans.
In a talk he gave at Accelerating Change 2005, Amen lays out the connections in stark terms, arguing that allowing children to play tackle football or to hit soccer balls with their heads is tantamount to child abuse (from a brain health perspective), that techniques for developing and maintaining healthy brains should get more emphasis in schools than all the mundane stuff we’ll never use later in life, and that lawyers need to stop fighting to keep brain scans out of court cases for fear of muddying the prevailing idea that either we have free will or we don’t (Amen argues that brains span a huge spectrum of health levels, and that damaged brains exert less predetermined action (free will) than healthy brains).
Amen can tell at a glance how well an individual is functioning in life just by looking at their brain scan. The correlation between the appearance of the brain on a scan and the functional health of the individual is direct. So Amen also argues that Descartes — who made the point that the mind and brain were functionally separate — was wrong. In fact we now have the technology and the data to see for ourselves exactly how wrong Descartes was; the mind/brain connection is not a matter of philosophical debate, but of direct analysis.
The descriptive text at IT Conversations doesn’t do justice to the power of the talk. Juicy. Worth 45 minutes of your time.