Talk:Phineas Gage

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Former good article nominee Phineas Gage was a Natural sciences good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
December 20, 2005 Good article nominee Listed
June 14, 2007 Good article reassessment Delisted
June 19, 2013 Good article nominee Not listed
Current status: Former good article nominee
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Placement of "Factors favoring Gage's survival" section[edit]

This has probably been discussed before and I just don't remember, but just in case...

I'm wondering whether it would be a good idea to relocate the "Factors favoring Gage's survival", so that it wouldn't be a lone section at the end of the page. Perhaps it could be lowered one header level, and placed between "Extent of brain damage" and "First-hand reports of mental changes". To my way of thinking, it makes sense to discuss why Gage survived directly after discussing the extent of his injuries. --Tryptofish (talk) 01:42, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

The sections currently run like this:
  • 1-2. Life + Death/exhumation (2100 + 400 = 2500 words)
  • 3. Brain damage and mental changes (2000)
  • 4. Theoretical use and misuse (800)
  • 5. Portraits (300)
  • 6. Early medical attitudes (800)
  • 7. Factors favoring Gage's survival (1000)
If I understand, you propose inserting 7 as a new subsection of 3 (maybe renaming 3 Injuries and mental changes or Survival and mental changes etc.). I agree such a change gives a more logical order (it could also go just after Phineas_Gage#Convalescence) but I don't think it would best serves most of our readers. Here's why...
Sections 1 and 2 pretty much have to go first, because without them the rest of the sections make no sense. I put sections 3 and 4 next because they're by far the most prominent subtopics -- many sources mention this stuff even if they don't tell you anything at all about Gage himself or his life, and I think they're what most readers most want.
The rest (5,6,7) are standalones in the sense that nothing in them is needed by any of the other sections (including one another), so they can go in any order, and each is kind of a side topic. Right now they're in the order short, visual, and fun to long, wordy, and less fun.
Again, your proposed order is the most logical, and would make perfect sense for a textbook, where we expect the reader read and absorb all the material. But I think the current sequence is better because under it, if the reader quits at any point he's still got the most essential stuff. Section 7 is quite long, and inserting it into 3 would be a big interruption just at the the point, I think, where the reader would otherwise be getting to "the good part". This is my thinking, anyway.
BTW, at one point I considered breaking off the Phineas_Gage#Extent_of_brain_damage section into a section of its own (another "standalone") but it's so short (250 words) and so closely connected to mental changes that I thought it best to leave it. (It also has good visuals re path of iron.) EEng (talk) 16:42, 16 January 2016 (UTC) P.S. Thanks for you good wishes a few days ago. I had a CAT scan and -- good news -- no cats. For a more thorough workup they'll next do a more general PET scan, which of course can detect any puppies, gerbils, goldfish canaries and so on that may be present as well. EEng (talk) 16:42, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
Yeah, I see what you mean. It's not something where I feel strongly. I looked again at the page, trying to see if there could be another placement, that would retain some of the "logic", but with less interruption of "getting to the good part". One possibility would be simply to put it at the end of Section 3 (as 3.5). On the plus side, it would not be interrupting the rest of Section 3 that way. On the minus side, it would interrupt the transition from 3.4 (exaggeration) to Section 4 (misuse). If that minus side is a deal killer for you, that's OK with me. But I kind of like it, so please consider it seriously, because it really does fit better there, and the reader eager to get to the "good stuff" can be expected to skip over the last part of a section if it looks boring. The way it is now, I feel like, after finishing with Gage's medical treatment early on the page, we suddenly circle back to it at the end, and it just feels weird. Oh my goodness, you have really been going through the wringer! I predict that they'll find an iron rod. Actually, with all the strange invertebrates that I keep in my saltwater aquarium, I like to joke that I have some pet sponges, so maybe that's what they'll find. Anyway, good luck! --Tryptofish (talk) 20:21, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for moving it! I just changed the header level to make it a subsection (revert if you disagree). I don't think that there is any problem with Section 3 remaining "Brain damage and mental changes", because injuries outside the brain and adjacent structures would have been unlikely to play that much of a role in survival, so the overall Section 3 header still applies. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:14, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
You're right about interrupting the transition from Exaggeration to Theoretical misuse, but (as you also say) there's a natural affinity between Brain damage and Survival. On the whole I think it will work better having Survival at ==-level section instead of ===-subsection, because when it's a === that one section becomes huge -- 3000 words, bigger than Life + Death combined (2500 words). But lets see how this feels for a few weeks. EEng (talk) 22:15, 16 January 2016 (UTC)

Luck-pushing section-swapping[edit]

OK, now I'm doubtless pushing my luck, but here goes! Looking at the page now, how about swapping the positions of 5. Portraits and 6. Early medical attitudes (so that Portraits would instead come after, at the end)? That way, there is a nice progression from theoretical use to medical attitudes, each of which is a different aspect of how "experts" formed opinions about it. And the portraits make for a rather nice note to end on. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:34, 16 January 2016 (UTC)

I'm off to my MRI (no kidding), talk to you later. EEng (talk) 22:15, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
Your suggestion would end the article
  • 4. Theoretical use and misuse
  • 5. Early medical attitudes
  • 6. Portraits.
But lying in the MRI (BANG! CLUNK! BZZZZZT! THWAP!) I had a brainwave, which luckily did not mess up the image. Anyway, my idea was
  • 4. Early medical attitudes
  • 5. Theoretical use and misuse
  • 6. Portraits.
This way, we have the natural transition from "Early" (mid-19th C) to "Theoretical" (mid-19th to 20th) to portraits (21st C). Take a look: [2].
EEng 09:39, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
You should have got the hospital staff to retarget the scan. The world has lost the opportunity to research brain activity while pondering Phineas' injuries. Would there be sympathetic activation of the damaged areas? Would they try to shut down in self-defence? --Mirokado (talk) 11:18, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
Thanks, EEng! I think the way that you did it was even better than my idea. (I had hesitated to suggest that, because I was concerned about that "good stuff" issue.) But I think this is great.
My goodness, you and I suddenly seem to be agreeing so much about this page! How nice. Perhaps they gave you some sort of "medication" to, umm, calm you down before the MRI? If so, do keep taking it! At least now you know that there are no iron rods in you, because, if there had been, the magnet in the MRI, well, squoosh! --Tryptofish (talk) 20:59, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
You seem surprised, but I've always felt we worked well together, putting aside (a) your markup Luddism and (b) that you take to extremes the precept, "Listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story".
I'm still inclined to promote 3.5 Factors favoring Gage's survival from === to ==, because as things are Section 3 is very, very long; though related to 3 Brain damage, 3.5 is really of a different kind; and if we promote 3.5 to == we'll have the full chronological sequence Survival then Early attitudes then Theoretical, then Portraits. But let's just leave it a while and see how the current format feels.
Before the MRI: "Any piercings? Tattoos? Artificial limbs? Penile implant? Breast implants?" I said, "Breast implants???". The technician said, "Since Caitlyn Jenner we ask everyone all the questions." No medication was involved; I found the entire experience most interesting and pleasant, and in fact I almost fell asleep.
EEng 07:43, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
Speaking of pushing one's luck, please do not be so quick to assume that I will not resume my Luddite tendencies. I intend to pursue them again, quite seriously, after your spine has regained its previous spiny-ness. You've had an unusually lengthy respite from my more dull and ignorant side, but that won't last forever. Face-smile.svg
Anyway, I don't think I've ever seen any rules or guidelines about the word counts of page sections, so I don't think that the length of Section 3 is a problem.
Tattoos? WTF?? Are tattoos magnetic? --Tryptofish (talk) 22:25, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
I fear you misunderstood me. I wasn't implying that you are dull and/or ignorant, merely that you overindulge the dull and ignorant, long past the point where it should be apparent they're unable to contribute usefully in a given situation. If your Luddism flairs up[citation needed] again, we'll get you the best treatment available—​you're that important to us.
I suspect the concern about tattoos is that they sometimes incorporate a variety of materials (think: prison) which, metallic or not, could induce artifacts in the image.
EEng 01:09, 19 January 2016 (UTC)
No worries. I really did understand that you weren't saying that about me. I just extended it to myself, of my own fishy accord. For now, all that I want is Wiki-peace, so I don't expect any flair ups[citation needed] anytime soon. WP:There is no deadline, and happy editing! --Tryptofish (talk) 19:27, 19 January 2016 (UTC)

Race to the bottom[edit]


See right and left. EEng 20:39, 19 January 2016 (UTC)

I got scared when I saw your edit summary! ;-) --Tryptofish (talk) 21:03, 19 January 2016 (UTC)
It's been happening more and more in my declining years -- substituting homonyms. EEng 21:28, 19 January 2016 (UTC)
I guess we are all declining! --Tryptofish (talk) 21:30, 19 January 2016 (UTC)
Requesting that Martinevans123 now drag this discussion to new depths. EEng 22:04, 19 January 2016 (UTC)
Just catching the sun before battle commences once again.....

You're not getting your hands on my flares! Scanner or no scanner! They're sacred to the memory of my troubled teenage years. A Van Sent MRI 123 (talk) 22:23, 19 January 2016 (UTC)

Martinevans, "A Man Inverts"
You never disappoint, "A Man Inverts" (see left). EEng 00:17, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
This discussion hit bottom a long time ago! --Tryptofish (talk) 00:24, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
Not until I point out that the anagrams of Tryptofish, though starting promisingly with Trophy Fits, descends through Frothy Spit before reaching Prof. Shitty. EEng 00:55, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
Yikes, about that last one! I wonder if any of my students ever referred to me as that behind my back. (Oh, and grammatically, that's "descend", not "descends". shitty laughter) --Tryptofish (talk) 01:06, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
Sorry -- anagrammatical error. EEng 01:13, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
Not fair
Not fare
Not fare, not fair! Only four letters in your username. The only anagram I came up with is Gene, as in The Selfish Gene. (I, on the other hand, am the shellfish gene.) --Tryptofish (talk) 20:38, 21 January 2016 (UTC)

Section-opening quotations[edit]

An edit summary asked for comments about the boxed quotation at the top of the Skepticism section. On the one hand, I do like the use of such quotes "to draw the reader in". On the other hand, this particular instance looks unattractive to me, because the boxed quote is displayed to the right of another quote, that is indented in the text. Perhaps a solution would be for the boxed quote to be centered on the page, instead of aligned to the right. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:24, 21 January 2016 (UTC)

I'm glad you like the the general idea, though fear some will object -- MOS:BLOCKQUOTE says

Do not enclose block quotations in quotation marks (and especially avoid decorative quotation marks in normal use, such as those provided by the {{pull quote}} a.k.a. {{cquote}} template, which are reserved for pull quotes). Block quotations using a colored background are also discouraged.

(I used a colored background just to show my rebellious nature.) Now, I think the real reason for this discouragement is what's said at WP:LONGQUOTE:
As a matter of style, quote boxes should generally be avoided as they draw special attention to the opinion of one source, and present that opinion as though Wikipedia endorses it. Such emphasis on one quote violates NPOV. All quotes should be treated the same.
If that's the concern (and it's a valid one) that still shouldn't prevent boxing historic quotes having no controversy attached to them.
You'll notice that the captions of some of the article's images are designed for similar effect (usually by starting the caption with a quotation) and that's endorsed at WP:CAPTIONS#Drawing_the_reader_into_the_article:
The caption should lead the reader into the article. For example, in History of the Peerage, a caption for Image:William I of England.jpg might say "William of Normandy overthrew the Anglo-Saxon monarchs, bringing a new style of government." Then the reader gets curious about that new form of government and reads text to learn what it is.
I really don't see why a boxed quote (which is really no different from a caption, just without the image) shouldn't be used the same way.
Anyway, in the current version [3] two of the boxquotes (the "moral man" limerick, and the "very small amount" quote) are clearly OK, but one ("modern commen­ta­tors") is maybe borderline. (I'd argue that we're well past questioning that "many modern commentators exaggerate" etc., but I can see that this might not be obvious to the casual observer.) So I've moved "modern commentators" back into the text, and put a new quote (19th c) in its place in the box [4].
As to the layout, I completely agree with you -- the box looks bad when adjacent to a blockquote. I tried centering the quote at the top of the section but then it looks like a banner headline, though maybe this can be salvaged by tinkering with the width etc. Since you like the general idea of quote boxes, there are a couple more I want to add and maybe in the process of doing that some bright idea will occur to me.
EEng 08:11, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
This is getting way above my competency level, so I have zero advice (other than a facetious recommendation of Template:Quotefarm). --Tryptofish (talk) 21:50, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Well, you're certainly competent to give your opinion of different formatting approaches. But if you've changed your mind about the quotes drawing the reader in etc., please say so now. Otherwise I'll add some more (probably too many) after which we can evaluate which ones are worth keeping. But I don't want to go ahead if you've changed your mind about their appropriateness. When some roving enforcer shows up to say all articles have to look alike, I want to be able to point to this discussion and say, "Hah! Even Frothy Spits[FBDB] likes them -- and you know how hard to please he is!". EEng 00:58, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
Then, facetiousness aside, I approve (in principle) of quotes at the beginnings of sections to draw readers in. But I disapprove of doing it in every section, or most sections. And I disapprove of having more quotes than text, or of having too many quotes. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:33, 23 January 2016 (UTC)