Phrenology In the article, Snaring the Fowler; Mark Twain Debunks Phrenology, we find that Lorenzo Niles Fowler had gainedcelebrity status by reading people’s minds using phrenology. Many people of that time were of the belief that phrenology had the capability of explaining the totality of human experience. They wrote books that described the various ways in which phrenology can be applied, for example; to know the qualities of an employee or a potential mate (Lopez). Mark Twain was not fazed by the claims and testimonies lavished upon phrenology.
He used a simple single-blind reliability test to note whether the practice was accurate in reading one’s personality. He visited Fowler’s offices for a reading in 1872 or 1873; he was disguised. Twain notes how Fowler examined bumps on his head to come up with positive qualities like; courage, spirit of daring, and fearlessness (Lopez). On the other side of his head, Fowler found cavities and used them to counter Twain’s positive personality traits. For instance, Fowler found a cavity of Twain’s skull and concluded that he lacked a sense of humor. He found a “courage” bump, but it was canceled out by a cavity that shown a timid trait. Twain likened the readings to palmistry; he later indicates how the readings were different after he went for a second reading.
This time, he identified himself and the cavity that signified a lack of humor was gone and now had a lofty sense of humor. Studying the bumps and cavities of someone’s skull to get an understanding of the brain’s underlying functions was pioneered by Frank Gall. Phrenology’s only success is that it helped researchers to focus their attention on the localization of functions of the brain.
It is the idea that brain regions contain specific functions. Further research has lead to the discovery of neurons. They contain dendrites, axon and myelin that enable the neuron to send messages after stimulation. Scientists have found out that neurotransmitters influence our moods, mental abilities and memories, not bumps on our skulls (Myers). Works CitedLopez, Delano Jose. Snaring The Fowler: Mark Twain Debunks Phrenology - CSI. Csicop. org. N.p. , 2002. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.Myers, David G. Psychology.
New York: Worth Publishers, 2004. Print.