My Unsmiling Appearance on MSNBC: The Video

By Carl Zimmer | January 11, 2011 6:40 pm

Here’s my quick visit to TV land this afternoon. I do wonder why my face is in a permanent scowl. On the inside, I can be very cheerful, honest!


Comments (13)

  1. Dallas Krentzel

    I thought you looked relatively enthusiastic. And I really liked your response to the soul question; that essentially, according to neuroscientists, it’s a non-issue. It’s nice to hear that on TV.

  2. Nice interview! Your demeanor was just fine. I thought the “early Americans’ maps” was a great analogy to where scientists are at in mapping the brain.

  3. Certainly, you wouldn’t have been much good on the adjoining clip of “The Joker needs some new minions”

  4. Greg Bole

    Nice job Carl. It’s a tough thing to answer some of the curve-ball questions on air “personalities” come up with, you handled it really well. Smiling a little more wouldn’t hurt, but I wouldn’t call it a scowl.

  5. Monkey

    Thats not a scowl….THIS is a scowl…..


    Good show, Carl. Clear and concise…and I agree the early map analogy was excellent. You can take it so many directions. As a teaching tool I usually try to simmer big ideas down to analogies and then build them back up. One strategy of many, but it is what really gets kids thinking (“hey, this kinda makes sense”) and then you can start more precise teaching. So, good stuff!

  6. Jessica

    Zimmer you did great! The production and interviewer were weird and you handled it gracefully. Science!

  7. Thanks for cheering me up, folks.

  8. johnk

    Great job, Carl.

    I’m a neuroscientist. I think you are correct that most, or almost all, neuroscientists are materialists: they feel that ‘consciousness’ (and ‘soul’) are emergent properties of the brain comprised of neurons comprised of atoms comprised of sub-atimic particles.

    I’m increasingly confused. I haven’t seen any progress in understanding the emergence of ‘qualia’. My thinking is not that we don’t, or won’t, understand neurons and their connections sufficiently. I’m in a more skeptical camp: that we don’t understand physics, and small particles, sufficiently.

  9. I thought you did a great job in the interview and hit a good balance between brainy and very accessible. But…the image consultant in me from my years at Nordstrom did notice the ‘way too serious’ lack of smile vibe you had going on. By yourself it probably wouldn’t have even been noticeable but Thomas Roberts, who I also really like, was coming at the whole thing from a more lighthearted perspective so I think that made your ‘lack of smile’ more noticeable…which isn’t you at all. Imagine the interviewer in a party hat and you’ll always have a great smile.

  10. I would like Carl’s take on the Lucas-Penrose argument. It employs a form of Godel’s theorem to argue that our brain by itself cannot explain our mind: our mind cannot be merely the workings of a computer. It’s not impossible for a strict materialist to wiggle out of the contradiction, but some of their arguments stretch credulity.

  11. Brian Too

    I’m glad that someone else thinks they photograph weird. I look at pictures of myself and usually think “I don’t look like that. And that’s certainly not how I felt!”

    Perhaps it is the visual equivalent of hearing a recording of your voice. You have a mental image of how you look and sound. When given a dispassionate projection of how you really look and sound, there’s a dissonance with your mental model of yourself.

    Anyhow your blog picture makes you look friendly enough. What, was that a fluke? Maybe you’re just being too hard on yourself!

  12. I did a video when running for a local office, and they told me to smile a little more than felt natural. I did, and it looked natural in the video. I won, too.

    Your info content was fine, and you got a smile in at the end, so it worked out.


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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