Tuesday, October 28, 2008


My creative director, Bob, has an interesting collection of artifacts in his office. One is a book on Phrenology, a defunct field of science that attempted to tie a person's character to the shape of his or her head. It is pseudo-science attempting to demonstrate superiority by showing that men have bigger heads than women, Caucasians have bigger heads than Africans or Native Americans, etc. The book, published in 1882, is racist, sexist, preposterous, and beautifully illustrated.
Beautiful, embossed cover. No Oprah Book Club logo, though.

SON: Dad, I've decided to become a doctor.

DAD: That's great, my boy! What field? Cardiology? Neuro-science?

SON: I'm really interested in phrenology...Where are you going?

Notice The Good Boy has a larger skull than The Bad Boy? Notice they both look like twits? 

Ever wondered where "cautiousness" or "hope" or "ideality" resided in your brain? Click to enlarge. (I didn't see a compartment marked "donuts.")

Comparisons of big skulls (good) and small skulls (bad). Yep. That's a big-skulled Joseph Smith in the lower right-hand corner.

Notice the guy in Fig. 12 - the Partial Idiot. That's either a backhanded compliment - "Oh, don't feel so bad. You're only a partial idiot." - or a real insult. "You're so dumb, you can't even get being an idiot right."

1 comment:

Neil said...

My head is roughly the shape of the good boy's head. Phrenology must be true. After all, I'm a very good boy.