Essay: In Search of the Silver Bullet

A county medical examiner in Florida, it seems, will no longer be supplying the brains--or more accurately, pieces of the brains--of executed prisoners to a University of Florida researcher for her studies on the criminal mind. News of this exchange has stirred a small scandal. The prisoners, it turns out, never consented to be so studied. But the deeper question is what could the study have possibly hoped to find?

In our age, which has learned to quantify everything, perhaps it might not seem strange that the soul of a killer should be sought in his posthumous neuroanatomy. In an age...

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