He has haunted us for more than fifty years – this strange scientist, with his theory of primal reptiles embedded in each of us. And for years I wondered, Could this bizarre hypothesis be true? Might it explain the ancient instincts – so contrary to my intentions – which I felt arising from the depths of my unconscious mind? Could it really be possible that inside my primate brain lurked a vicious lizard mind, a relic from the era when reptiles ruled the earth?
As it turns out… no, actually. The theory – if not the man who coined it – has proven outright insane in light of the latest scientific research. And yet, speakers and writers around the globe continue to trumpet the truth of the idea.
Let me lay the facts bare for you, and explain the enduring appeal of this weird theory, in my latest article for Scientific American: “Revenge of the Lizard Brain!”
“There’s a scene in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas in which the writer, high out of his mind on hallucinogens, watches a roomful of casino patrons transform into giant lizards and lunge at each other in bloody combat. Under the veneer of civilization, the scene suggests, we’re all still reptiles, just waiting for the moment to strike.
Like the Fear & Loathing scene, the Triune Brain idea holds a certain allegorical appeal: The primal lizard – a sort of ancestral trickster god – lurking within each of us. But today, writers and speakers are dredging up the corpse of this old theory, dressing it with some smart-sounding jargon, and parading it around as if it’s scientific fact…”