BEN CARSON TO HUD EMPLOYEES: I CAN ZAP YOUR BRAINS AND MAKE YOU REMEMBER BOOKS READ IN 1957

By now, everyone’s aware that Ben Carson likened slaves to immigrants during a staff speech Monday to mark his first full week as secretary of housing and urban development.

The comparison did not play nicely on social media. (On Twitter, actor Samuel L. Jackson announced his disapproval with a phrase that cannot be reprinted here.)

But Carson’s remarks about slavery were not his only statements to receive scrutiny.

As a surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1987, Carson famously separated infant twins conjoined at the head. But on Monday, he told a factually wrong parable about the brain. Specifically, Carson said, the brain was incapable of forgetting and could be electrically stimulated into perfect recall – a statement that, even though made by one of the most famous former neurosurgeons alive, was far more fiction than science.

It came in an anecdote meant to motivate the federal employees, a bit Carson developed on the public speaking circuit. He described the brain’s surprising power as a way to show the audience that they were more capable than they believed

Except his description did not hit the mark. “It remembers everything you’ve ever seen. Everything you’ve ever heard. I could take the oldest person here, make a little hole right here on the side of the head,” Carson said, circling his left temple with a finger, “and put some depth electrodes into their hippocampus and stimulate. And they would be able to recite back to you, verbatim, a book they read 60 years ago. It’s all there. It doesn’t go away. You just have to learn how to recall it.”

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