This morning at 6:30am, a 28-year-old Garfield Park man was in his car about to leave for work when he was killed by gunfire. The news account doesn't yet indicate whether or not he was the intended victim. The man's mother works at Rush Medical Center where she collapsed upon hearing the news of her son's murder.
A commenter on the article writes:
"Quite appalling to most humans but it's just another day in their urban jungle."
You see what he did? Humans versus "jungle" inhabitants who don't have human reactions?
People who make statements like this typically deny the set of associations such framing and language triggers, and they deny that they're bigots, but they are.
So here you have a black victim, a grieving black mother, both working people going about their business. The son is murdered and someone declares: Nothing to see here because they're subhuman. Black lives really don't matter.
November 2013, I proudly launched the Brain Watch blog here at WIRED. This will be my final post. For seventeen months I’ve used the blog to report on new neuroscience findings, to reflect on how neuroscience is influencing the public and media, to investigate the claims of brain products, to explore neurological abnormality and death, and to debunk misconceptions about the brain. I loved reading your comments and I was thrilled when I found my ideas from here quoted in other publications. It’s been a lot of fun. Here’s some of what I learned:
Brain myths die hard
When the movie Lucy came out last year, it provided me an opportunity to challenge the 10% brain myth and explore its origins (the idea we only use 10% of our brains is a premise of the film). With such tired myths, it’s easy to wonder if anybody believes them anymore. Writing this blog, I learned not to underestimate their staying power! Consider the vitriol my 10% post attracted from a neuroscience grad student at Yale. In an email dripping with disdain she told me “You … should feel ashamed for releasing such a misinformed article. … There are misinformed and uneducated people all over the internet trying to disprove this 10% notion, but that is expected. This is certainly NOT something I expected from someone allegedly as well educated as yourself"
The 10% myth is popular with self-help gurus who want their marks to believe that the other 90% of brain power can be unlocked by reading their book or taking their course. It has no basis whatsoever in an understanding of neurology. Did Jarrett confirm that this angry response really came from a neuroscience graduate student? I find it inconceivable that a student of neuroscience could endorse such rubbish.
The trouble, however, remains that negative tones stick in the mind. If someone (OK, a woman) is described as feisty, for example, it is very easy to read that as ‘trouble’. The second thought may be, it’s not a word you’d use about a man, but the third thought may still be, ‘but would it be risky to employ this person?. Once you’ve heard that word, how do you strike it from the record, as a court of law might require. It’s lodged in the brain and hard to ignore. If the letter is sufficiently blatantly sexist or unacceptably rude, suggesting some long-running feud between groups perhaps, then it is easy to say such a letter should be cast aside. The less dramatic the damning, the more pernicious the effect, I suspect.