So Obama wants to kick off his initiative for a Brain Activity Map, or BAM for short. While I believe it’s an homage to his Emeril Lagasse spice rack (BAM!! from here on out), I say bully for him. Considering the fact that Washington generally have their heads crammed all the way up their asses in regards to everything, especially responsible allocation of funds, this is a breath of fresh air. Let’s get a few things straight, though:
1) Mapping brain activity at a resolution that would explain every cellular connection (the connectome) and signal AND how those signals would translate into thought or action is a monumental task. It’s a long term goal and will cost A LOT of money. That said, the medical benefits of such a project would be among the greatest of any single endeavor. So why is it that Obama has to use rhetoric that promises more of an economic return than a scientific one? I’m guessing it has something to do with the connectomes of a lot of people in charge. It’s not enough that this initiative would make leaps and bounds towards curing Alzheimer’s — BAM!! — and many other neurologic disorders — BAM!! BAM!! — or that it would cost every American only $10 total spread out over ten years — BLING!! BAM!! Some might call this a ‘no brainer’, but then I look at the dumb shit that surrounds me everyday and wonder how humanity manages to progress at all. Actually, I’m pretty sure we’re moving backwards. Case in point:
Do you know how much money is wasted putting this dribble on air? And a huge majority of people encourage it! Are we really so desperate? Is a plot that impossible? Have we deteriorated to the level of dumb beasts?*
2) Mapping the brain is not Obama’s idea. Scientists did not listen to the State of the Union and think, ‘O.M.G., why didn’t we think of that??!!’ Scientists have been trying to understand the brain for over a hundred years, so at the end of the day, I hope credit is given where it’s due. In fact, if congress had just poured the $3 billion the initiative will cost into NIH funding to start with, specifically for neurobiology research, this project may have been unnecessary. We might have already achieved the goal — along with others. But do you think congress will connect these dots and increase research funding in order to further drive scientific discovery outside of special projects like BAM!! or the Human Genome Project? If so, you better hope this project quickly turns out a cure for delusion.
In fact, instead of increasing NIH funding in line with the BAM!! initiative to speed progress, congress actually cut NIH spending ahead of the Sequester… (record scratch) wait, what? That’s just the kind of intuitive thinking I’ve come to expect from our boys in Washington. Keep up the good work, you dumb f***s!
*Hunter S. Thompson was a visionary ahead of his time.