Psychologists, neuroscientists and philosophers like to talk of a hypothetical instrument called the ‘cerebroscope‘. The first time I heard about this, in San Diego, I expressed a bit of surprise, and then asked, ‘Why isn’t it called a ‘brainoscope’?”

I was expecting to be told that people used ‘cerebroscope’ because it sounded more impressive (always a good thing in specialised disciplines). But no, the reason was even better than that. Apparently ‘brainoscope’ is a barbarism – it combines words from two different ancient languages (Middle English/Latin and Greek, as far as I can tell), whereas ‘cerebroscope’ is fine because it’s all Greek.

Upon seeing the rather stunned expression on my face, my friend said, “No, I don’t see why it makes a difference either.”

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