Quora Activities: Famously Bad Scientists

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Q:

Who is one intellectual who is or was popular despite not actually being that good?

A:

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, was an early proponent of evolution–but not the Darwinian version we all learn of today. Lamarck was a soldier turned taxonomist who combined a hierarchical complexity theory of life (ie. advanced life must be more complex and new) with the evolutionary concept of “soft inheritance.” Soft inheritance consisted of the believe that behavioral traits, such as skills and personality traits developed as an adult could be passed on to posterity.

This paradigm, perhaps, triggered another century of eugenics, racism, socioeconomic exclusion all under the banner of bad science.

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Clayton S. Bingham is a Biomedical Engineer working at the Center for Neural Engineering at University of Souther California. Under the direction of Drs. Theodore Berger and Dong Song, Clayton builds large-scale computational models of neurological systems. Currently, the emphasis is on the modeling of Hippocampal tissue in response to electrical stimulation with the goal of optimizing the placement of stimulating electrodes in regions of the brain that are dysfunctional. These therapies can be used for a broad range of pathologies including Alzheimer’s, various motor disorders, depression, and Epilepsy.

If you have any interest in writing here or would like to hear more about the work done by Clayton in the USC Center for Neural Engineering he can be reached at: clayton dot bingham at gmail dot com.

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2 thoughts on “Quora Activities: Famously Bad Scientists

    1. Ah…yes. Epigenetics…variable methylation and the inheritance of transcription factors. Those definitely leave a small window for our nurture-endowed traits to be passed to our kids. I think the Lamarkian ideas we don’t want to espouse are much more dramatic that that…ie the ones that led fascist rulers to sterilize the poor, and attempt to exterminate ethnicities.

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