Distant echoes of Shatner’s Bassoon

Language Log is doing a sterling job of keeping up with the increasing pace of Dr Alfred Crockus’ research, and seem to have found an important neuroanatomical link between the Crockus and another surprisingly neglected brain area, Shatner’s Bassoon.

The Crockus is the shameless and unintentionally hilarious invention of educational consultant Dan Hodgins, which he claims is four times larger in girls and so supports his own ideas about teaching (incidentally, he’s currently ‘on tour‘ if you want to hear his crockus first hand).

Shatner’s Bassoon was the invention of satirist Chris Morris, who persuaded various media figures that it was an area of the brain targeted by the fictional street drug ‘cake‘.

Several TV personalities and David Amess, a Tory MP, took part in Morris’ spoof TV programme with absolutely no insight into the completely ridiculous premise of the whole affair.

The best bit is when they do an earnest public education announcement, warning of the drug’s dangers and informing the viewers that it may be sold under the names of looney toad twat, russell dust, chronic basildon donut, Joss Ackland’s spunky backpack, bromicide, ponce on the heath, cool thwacks, and Hattie Jacques’ portentious cheese wog.

The video is available online, and it is a testament both to the fact that people are easily blinded by scientific sounding nonsense, and to the fact that celebrity endorsement of good causes can be as much about their public profile as it is about the cause itself.

David Amess went as far as asking a question about “cake” in parliament which you can read in Hansard, the official parliamentary record.

Interestingly, the Home Office assumed his question about ‘cake’ referred to 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-benzylamphetamine (MDBZ), one of the drugs synthesised by legendary psychedelics researcher Alexander Shulgin. The description of the drug appears in his book PiHKAL – a sort of Principia Psychedelica of mind-bending phenethylamines, of which ecstasy (MDMA) is probably the best known.

Morris’ spoof news series, The Day Today and Brass Eye, function equally well as hilarious entertainment and a careful analysis of the language of news media we’ve come to uncritically accept.

As a result, Chris Morris taught me more about deconstructing the media than Derrida ever did.

Language Log has been just as funny lately, and is doing an equally important job in pointing out how the language of neuroscience is now so all-pervasive, that people are willing to make up areas of the brain to support their point of view.

As an aside, if anyone knows of any other fictional brain areas, do get in touch. I feel these need collecting in one place.

Link to Language Log on ‘The Crockus and the Bassoon’.
Link to Brass Eye on ‘cake’.

2 thoughts on “Distant echoes of Shatner’s Bassoon”

  1. If there is a part of the brain that handles time perception, if its not called Shatner’s Bassoon, it damn well should be.

    I can still remember Free the United Kingdom from Drugs and their alliance with British Opposition to Metabolically Bisturbile Drugs, and if time is a drug, then Big Ben is a huge needle injecting it into the sky.

    BTW, have you got any Triple Sod?

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