Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pseudoscience Saturday! - Phrenology

I've decided that every saturday I'm going to talk about some silly old pseudoscience and if I have time during the day put up a regular post too. Today's post is about phrenology, the study of skull shape.

Phrenology all started in 1796 with a scientist named Franz Gall, phrenology remained in the realm of real science all the way until the 1900s. Phrenology is based on the concept that the mind has localized areas that do specific things, these areas are also called modules. Phrenologists believe that the size of the modules showed different aspects of a person's personality. The reason they believed this is that it was assumed that the importance a person gave to each specific module made it larger or smaller. Under these beliefs it was possible to map out a person's personality by measuring different areas of their skull. Gall believed that there were 27 specific modules in the brain and during a screening the phrenologist would feel a person's skull to map out and measure all 27 modules. Back in it's prime, phrenology was used to predict the future lives of children, screen potential job applicants and size up potential marriage partners.

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