“Brains Were Destroyed, UT Says, But Questions Linger”

“Brains Were Destroyed, UT
Says, But Questions Linger”


Leonard Zwelling

         This headline above an article by Benjamin Wermund in the
City and State section of the Houston Chronicle on December 4, 2014 greeted me
with my coffee. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

         Mr. Wermund reports that author Alex Hannaford discovered
during his research for his book “Malformed: Forgotten Brains of the Texas
State Mental Hospital” and reported in an article in the Atlantic, that in the
mid-1990s space was needed in the area in which preserved brains were stored in
formaldehyde. Now the brains are missing. The most famous previous owner of a
lost brain is Charles Whitman, the 1965 UT Austin Texas sniper who had left a
note that he was mentally ill. So the bottom line is that there are missing
brains in Austin.

         Duh! I think we in Houston, and certainly those of us
associated with MD Anderson, already knew that for our confidence in the
intellectual capacity of the leaders of UT, its Board of Regents or of the
Texas State government to oversee their investment in the state’s cancer center
had waned a long time ago.

         Despite the repeated ranking of MD Anderson as the number
one place for cancer care in the country and despite its glorious mission of
Making Cancer History, over the past 15 years the intelligence driving the
critical decisions that determined those chosen to lead Anderson is certainly
questionable. Whether it is the maintenance of leadership associated with a
significant number of felons, the hiring of new leadership finally, only to
watch as that new administration became more embarrassing than the previous
one, or now repeatedly surveying the faculty of Anderson, getting the same
objective measures of dissatisfaction, and still doing nothing, the Austin-centric intelligence guiding the strategy of the Anderson has to be at least an issue
of debate. That intelligence or signs of intelligent life in Austin is supposed
to emanate from those with fiduciary responsibility for the UT System. Frankly,
I don’t think they are fulfilling their responsibilities let alone their scores
on real world IQ tests.

         That some brains were destroyed in jars is really only of
consequence if their absence impedes research or criminal justice. It may have
been that these brains were in such bad condition that they served neither purpose any longer.

         But as for the brains in the heads of the leadership of UT
and the Board of Regents, we are counting on the IQ of those brains a bit more.

my grandmother would say, “NEW?”  

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