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Monday, October 18, 2004

Nerd of the Week 4 

The author of this article. The topic fascinating: can you measure cool? Where does it live in our brains? But Kahn gets the prize this week, not the scientist, because she points out how ridiculously flawed his methodology is. He doesn't identify himself as a scientist, which may explain it (why the &*%$! are we letting non-scientists use fMRIs?? Those toys ought to be reserved for people who have a clue).

Aside from the arbitrariness of his interpretations, the methodological issue that struck me was: of course her and Ms. Asp's scans are lighting up: they're fixated on it, they yearn for "cool," they think about it the whole time. He doesn't. He's an outlier. It's his toy. This could have been a really cool experiment, if done properly. With this crap, he won't even get rich on marketing potential.

Kudos for Ms. Kahn, for going through it, and beating the Cool Police.

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