Dr Sergio Canavero just hurtled to top slot on my ‘Bullshit of the week’ chart. I know I can talk bollocks, but this guy is a 10th Dan, a true adept, a Zen master.
He claims to have performed the world’s first ever successful head transplant. This was on a monkey. Why he claims he performed it is a bit of a mystery since the good doctor works in Turin, and the operation was carried out by a team led by the charmingly named Xiaoping Ren* in a medical centre in Harbin in northern China.
It gets more and more puzzling, because instead of doing what real scientists do, and publishing the findings in a peer reviewed journal, this charlatan appears in a Russian video. An Italian in a Russian video describing work performed in China. That smells a bit fishy if you ask me.
The plot thickens. The monkey’s head was apparently attached to the ‘new’ body’s existing blood supply. All well and good. But the brain wasn’t attached to the nervous system, something I’d think is the sine qua non for a head transplant. Not much point otherwise is there? Then the animal was killed after a mere 20 hours for ‘ethical’ reasons. That’s as much as I know, but you can draw your own conclusions.
Despite his spectacular failure to do the essentials, Canavero reckons the first human transplants could go ahead in 2017. That seems unlikely to me, but he’s adamant, and even reckons (on no grounds whatsoever) that the lucky recipient could be up and walking within a year. He’s even written a begging letter to Mark Zuckerberg asking for funding.
This guy is delusional at best, and a flat-out liar at worst. But let’s assume for a minute that he’s right, and you get yourself a new body with your old head on it. That’s going to quite a challenge for your psyche isn’t it? Waking up to find your body’s not anything like you remember it. You may not have been particularly fond of its shape, but at least it was yours. You knew where you were with it. And suppose you get one that you like even less? That would be a bummer.
I personally doubt you could retain your sanity in those circumstances. You’d end up just as mad as Dr Canavero, whose name incidentally sounds a bit like Dr Caligari, who was infamously insane in the film about his cabinet.
*Wasn’t he in The Force Awakens?