Emotional Intelligence Needs a Rewrite

I’ve recently processed and absorbed my recognition of the “left brain vs right brain myth.” (One side of the brain may work harder on some tasks, but there’s no evidence to suggest that whether a person is logical or creative has anything to do with how that person’s brain hemispheres relate to each other.)

The classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was a literary exploration of the early scientific theories on complex human behavior.

I remember as a kid being fascinated that in a classic Star Trek where Kirk is split into an aggressive/impulsive “evil” version and a compassionate/thoughtful “good” version, the “good” version is portrayed as racked with insecurities that make him a poor leader. Instead of the the “good” Kirk killing off the “evil” Kirk, the plot resolves when the two are reunified.

I had no idea that each of our eyes has a left and right field of vision, and that each eye feeds half of its image to each half of the brain.

And I had no idea that it’s also a distortion of science to think of complex human behavior in the form of core lizard brain / next-layer mammal brain / outer-layer primate brain. There’s so much I don’t know!


Books and articles on emotional intelligence claim that your brain has an inner core that you inherited from reptiles, wrapped in a wild, emotional layer that you inherited from mammals, all enrobed in—and controlled by—a logical layer that is uniquely human. This three-layer view, called the triune brain, has been popular since the 1950s but has no basis in reality. Brains did not evolve in layers. Brains are like companies—they reorganize as they grow in size. —Nautilus