There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Michael Gazzaniga, a neuroscientist on the President’s Council on Bioethics, thinks it’s OK for your kids to pop Ritalin before taking the SAT. But combining the DNA of a chimp and a man to create a chimp-man? Verboten, he says. “You present the humanzee as a possibility, and suddenly everyone’s afraid of letting scientists grow stem cells in mice,” he laments. A crossbreed of pop-science writing and philosophy tract, The Ethical Brain wrestles with the moral justifications for stem-cell research, a soon-to-be-released battery of smart drugs, and brain-scanning lie detectors. In the book’s final section, catchily titled “The Nature of Moral Beliefs and the Concept of Universal Ethics,” Gazzaniga argues that religious morals, which are really just the result of brain chemistry, are on a “collision course” with reason. The result won’t be pretty, Gazzaniga expects. “Putting it in secular terms,” he writes, “no one has told the kids yet there is no Santa Claus.” Gazzaniga speaks at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Jeff Horwitz)