My article on brain-scanning, "My Amygdala, My Self," which appears in this month's edition of the Atlantic -- the go-out-and-buy-it-and-support-journalism version of the Atlantic -- has apparently made Daniel Engber of my home-away-from-home magazine, Slate, very unhappy, in part because Mr. Engber, though apparently quite young, is also quite humorless, and apparently because I gave FKF Applied Research free oxygen. Engber's position is that the neuroscientists over at FKF are charlatans, and he has pursued them with Moby Dick-like intensity.
Engber called me early in the week to discuss the article, and we spoke for a half-hour, and then he used none of what I told him in his article, but whatever. I asked him if he had ever visited UCLA to be scanned by these neuroscientists, and he said no. So I have to say I was pleased to find in my inbox a message from Allen Goldberg, who is the head of marketing at FKF (and not a relative of mine, though a heck of a nice guy), in which he wrote:
We read with interest the piece published by your Slate colleague Daniel Engber. We are confident that he will have a better understanding and appreciation for fMRI brain scanning and its application for commercial purposes if he were to be scanned himself. Would it be possible to pass along our offer to Daniel to be scanned (and subsequently analyzed) in Los Angeles at his convenience.
So here it is, a public challenge from FKF. I think it would smart for Engber to go out and actually see what these neuroscientists are doing firsthand, rather than simply criticize from afar. And I'm reasonably sure they won't put him in the special genital-shrinking fMRI machine.
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