Of rigor in science

Of rigor in science

Jorge Luis Borges has a short story entitled Del rigor en la Ciencia , where he tells us the story of an immense map, drawn at the same scale as the empire it represents.

In this way, the map coincides with the empire and the model equals the real dimension of what is represented. But the piece that concerns us here does not deal with cartography, although its origin dates back to a point on the map of India, where a child with a malformation called Craniopagus parasiticus lived .

Such a deformity is extremely curious, as it is the incomplete result of the embryo division process in a twin pregnancy; a pathology that gives rise to the face of one fetus attached to the head of the other. Said like this, it is creepy, as unreal as one of those imaginary beings that Borges wrote about and that served as inspiration for his friend Juan Rodolfo Wilcock to create many others. But nothing is further from the imagination than the case that concerns us today and is known as The case of the boy with two heads from Bengal ; a child born in May 1783, in the Bengali village of Mundul Gait.

Such was the success of the attraction that the creature would be required by the higher castes to entertain the palace parties.

As soon as he was born, he was thrown into the fire by the midwife herself. But the baby survived the flames. Already put, the parents of the child took their money with the malformation of the son, exposing him at fairs. Such was the success of the attraction that the creature would be required by the higher castes to entertain the palace parties. This happened until the bite of a cobra ended his life.

Shortly after, the corpse was unearthed to serve as a study for science. His skull remains on display in the London Hunterian Museum, dedicated to the Scottish surgeon and anatomist John Hunter (1728-1793), a collector of rarities, who received the child's remains for further investigation. Everard Home – his assistant – published the pathological study of the case in 1790. As his descriptions show, the additional head ended in a piece of the neck where remains of the lungs and heart were also found. This additional head had its own autonomy, with a brain independent of the parasitized head. The eyes secreted tears.

A century later, the case inspired the American novelist Charles Lotin Hildreth, (1856-1896) to write a story where scientific rigor was confused with the most macabre fiction. Some half-human monsters that could be children of the devil , was the title of the article that came within the section The Wonders of Science , in the Boston Post .

No doctor would be able to remove the parasitic face, for which, Edward Mordake himself decided to shoot it between the eyes

In this article a series of monstrosities were cited where the case of Edward Mordake stood out, a guy who was born with the additional face of a woman attached to his skull. This second face, with its squinty eyes and always open, made fun of everyone who stood in front of it, sticking out its tongue and grimacing . No doctor would be able to remove the parasitic face, for which, Edward Mordake himself decided to shoot it between the eyes, ending his life and giving rise to the beginning of a legend that would go viral in those times when intellectual rigor , applied to scientific information, was non-existent in many publications

More or less as it happens now, with the Internet, where a falsehood lacking in scientific rigor goes viral and is therefore considered valid, confusing the map with the territory . This is as dangerous as falsehood, so much size that acquires, becomes rigorous and irrefutable, and the same happens with the map of the Borges story leaves no room for new observations constitute the method científico.

The ax de Piedra is a section where Montero Glez , with the will of prose, exercises his particular siege to scientific reality to show that science and art are complementary forms of knowledge.

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