September 22, 2007

The Crockus and the Bassoon

The folks over at Metafilter have picked up on the emerging science of crockusology, and the usual lively discussion has ensued. One of the commenters asked an especially insightful question: "Is the crockus related in any way to Shatner's Bassoon?" In fact, they're practically next-door neighbors:

Shatner's Bassoon is the region of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex responsible for time perception. It's known to be four times larger in boys than in girls, which is why boys are so much more likely to suffer from ADHD, and also why they're so much more at risk for the side-effects of the new European boom-rave drugs in the cranabolic amphetamoid family, such as dimesmeric antiphosphate, known on the streets of London as "cake". (More background is available here.)

By a curious historical coincidence, Dr. William Shatner, the eponymous discoverer of Shatner's Bassoon, and Dr. Alfred Crockus, the eponymous discoverer of the Crockus, are colleagues at the Boston Medical University Hospital. It's striking that two men who have contributed so much to our understanding of educational neuroscience should both be on the staff of an otherwise little-known institution. (Rumor has it that staffers for David Brooks have been sighted in the BMUH cafeteria, deep in discussion with Drs. Shatner and Crockus, doing background research for the next installment of Brooks' series of pieces on the political philosophy of cognitive neuroscience.)

If you're new to this discussion, you should read, in order;

"How big is your crockus?", 9/17/2007
"High crockalorum", 9/18/2007
"Dr. Alfred Crockus and Crosley Shelvador, MD", 9/19/2007
"Crosley Shelvador comes in from the cold", 9/20/2007
"Dr. Crockus in Central New Jersey", 9/21/2007

Additional background can be found in "David Brooks, Neuroendocrinologist" (9/17/2006).

[Another Mefi commenter points out that Dan Hodgins, the popular avatar of crockusology, will be lecturing in the Chicago area on October 3 and 4.]

[To avoid any possible confusion, perhaps I should add that Shatner's Basson and dimesmeric antiphosphate are satirical fictions. Dr. Alfred Crockus, the region of the brain known as the Crockus, and Boston Medical University Hospital are also apparently fictions, though the motivation and history of their invention remain obscure. (Satire, fraud and credulous crackpottery have been suggested; my favorite hypothesis remains the bar bet theory.)

Dan Hodgins, however, is not a fiction, but a real person who really does travel around giving presentations to groups of educators and interested parents. Some of these presentations apparently really do feature the Crockus-related pictures and claims discussed here and here. And the email quotations from Dan Hodgins that I've given in various messages were cut and pasted, verbatim and complete, from messages that came from whoever answered my queries to the email address given for him here.]

[Update -- some further news in the search for Dr. Crockus. The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine has no one named "Crockus" licensed in medicine or osteopathy.]

Posted by Mark Liberman at September 22, 2007 08:10 AM