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Feminist prehistorians assert that humanity once lived in warm, nurturing societies—matriarchies, of course—back when people still had the good instincts to worship earth and moon goddesses. So what happened? After a tour of goddess-related sites in Greece, San Francisco laparoscopic surgeon and author Leonard Shlain devised the novel theory that it was written language itself that destroyed the golden age. “Perhaps there was something in the way people acquired this new skill that changed the brain’s actual structure,” he suggests in his book The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image. Shlain argues that “in the beginning was the image” and that reading and writing made the rational left hemisphere of the brain become dominant over the intuitive right half. By the his reckoning, the rise of photography sparked women’s liberation and—presumably—learning your ABCs leads to the Holocaust. Evaluate this thesis with both halves of your brain at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the National Museum of American History’s Carmichael Auditorium, 14th & Constitution Ave. NW. $13. (202) 357-3030; at noon Thursday, Oct. 22, at King Memorial Library, Room 220, 901 G St. NW. Free. (202) 727-1281; or at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, at Borders, 1201 S. Hayes St., Arlington. Free. (703) 418-0166. (Mark Jenkins)