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How to Do Things with Brain Images

Joseph Dumit, Director of Science and Technology Studies, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Davis

March 20, 2011
57 minutes
Joseph Dumit


Brain images in popular culture do and say a lot more than they were designed to do. In colorful and starkly different shapes, they often speak louder than the facts that underlie them, such as implying proof that there are different "types" of brains: women & men, smart & dumb, schizophrenic & sane, normal & abnormal. In this manner they shape how we think of human nature and the kinds of facts we draw upon in disputes. This talk explores how they are made to speak this way and why this should be thought of as an ethical problem for science, courts, and the public.

Joseph Dumit is a biomedical anthropologist who studies the complex entanglements of medicine and society, with a particular focus on brain imaging.