A Crockus of Shit

Debbie says:

If junk science is equivalent to, say, potato chips or Hershey bars (both of which I am perfectly capable of enjoying), then what do we call pseudoscience made up out of whole cloth? No, really. Science so bad it would embarrass the Bush administration.

Laurie and I are familiar with the movement to make us believe that boys and girls are essentially different, and to redefine education to suit boys (because girls are already getting what they need). This movement likes to rely (as so much else does in these times) on brain chemistry, brain anatomy, and brain function.

Apparently, a reasonably respected lecturer in early childhood education has simply invented a nonexistent part of the brain to shore up his arguments about gender differences in brain morphology.

Much of [Hodgins’] talk [at a large urban public school system] was the standard stuff of current pop neuro-indoctrinology (“science has revealed that boys’ brains are made of snips and snails and puppy-dog tails”), but one bit stuck out: the idea that a brain structure called “the crockus” is four times larger in girls than in boys.

The drawing of the brain is not labeled on the handout, and it wasn’t labeled in Hodgins’ PowerPoint presentation, but the drawing indicates that it’s from BrainConnection.com and I just located it here.

Hodgins referred to the small royal blue area, which is labeled “pars opercularis” on the web site PPslide, and he said that’s the size of the crockus in males, and he referred to the motor cortex (somewhat lighter shade of blue) and said that’s the size of the crockus in females.

If you’re curious about what the crockus does, apparently it does two different things at different sizes: “Girls see the details of experiences… Boys see the whole but not the details.”

You’re with me by now, right? There is no such thing as a “crockus” in the brain. There is no such thing as a crockus at all. Google yields mis-spellings for “crocus,” some material in other languages, and (score!) Dr. Hodgins’ astonishing “explanation” of his claim. Mis-spellings are in the original.

The Crockus was actually just recently named by Dr. Alfred Crockus. It is the detailed section of the brain, a part of the frontal lope. It is the detailed section of the brain. You are right, it is four times larger in females then males from birth.

This part of the brain supports the Corpus Callosum (the part of the brain that connects the right and left hemisphere. The larger the crockus the more details are percieved by the two sides of the brain.

Just to belabor the obvious, a Google search on “Alfred Crockus” yields the links given above in this post, and nothing else.

So, hey, gals: enjoy the details that your big crockus lets you see. Meanwhile, I guess men can be jealous because ours are bigger? Me, I think Dan Hodgins’ brain should be examined in the name of science.

Thanks to Alibi Shop for the links, and to Language Log for picking this up at all.

science, junk science, gender, neuroscience, brain science, junk science, Dan Hodgins, brain, Body Impolitic

11 thoughts on “A Crockus of Shit

  1. Another victim of Winkiepluckers Syndrome.

    Sadly, Dan Hodgins shows every symptom of suffering from this surprisingly widespread, but little known variety of brain damage. (I don’t refer to him as “Dr. Dan” because nowhere on his promotional flyer does it say he has a a Ph.D. His presentation is aimed at educators, so he would mention a doctorate if he had one).

    First observed by Winston S. Winkieplucker, an independent researcher, part-time bartender and medical school dropout,
    sufferers of this condition exhibit delusions of competence, a pathological avoidance of research and fearless promotion of utterly absurd conclusions.

    Because their arguments are so colorful, Winkiepluckers can gain a surprising number of supporters. Unburdened by integrity, conscience or accuracy, they can be charming, charismatic and effective public speakers. Many Winkiepluckers can function at a high enough level to find work in politics, education and advertising.

    Winkiepluckers Syndrome appears to be most often caused by head injury, excessive alcohol consumption, testosterone overdose, early weaning, or all of the above.

  2. OK. This guy clearly suffers from a high Blood Porcelain level.

    (i.e., he’s a crock.)

    This guy clearly is either having way too much fun with his hoax, has heard too much Tom Lehrer (Dr. Henry Gall, inventor of the gall bladder), or has completely lost it.

  3. Fillyjonk (after looking up Sokal…very interesting, sort of a pseudoscientific Borat or Ali G caper). I did wonder, after posting my comment above if the guy could be aiming for one of those “I just kidding, you [fill in the blank: academics/feminists/target of choice] have no sense of humor.” But if so, why foist it on elementary school educators….? Curiouser and curiouser.

  4. Oh, and I don’t think the idea would necessarily be to show up elementary educators… more of a reductio ad absurdum on gender-based essentialism. But I’m probably giving the guy too much credit.

  5. Fillyjonk & Lynne: I too wondered if this was an elaborate leg-pull, so I went digging to see where Hodgins had appeared.

    He’s been giving keynote speeches and presentations, mostly in the midwest, since 1999. Latterly, mostly on gender (the “crockus” era).

    It is kind of sad, if it weren’t such pseudoscience.

    I’ll have to remember “Winkieplucker” and “blood porcelain levels” .

  6. Hodgins does claim to have a PhD. However, haven’t been able to find a record of his dissertation and he hedges when asked details about the degree –so that appears to be a crock, too….

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