Sabeen Mahmud assassinated: A devastating blow against freedom of thought

The neuromooc makes strange and sometimes traffic bedfellows.

The brain is sooooo cool!

Sabeen Mahmud and I at the University of Chicago bookstore on February 24, 2015. Sabeen Mahmud and I at the University of Chicago bookstore on February 24, 2015.

I was devastated when my friend and colleague, Sheharyar Hasnain, emailed me to tell me that Sabeen Mahmud had been assassinated in Karachi as she and her mother walked home from her bookstore/café/salon. As of the latest updates, Sabeen’s mother is in critical condition. I am an unlikely person – an Americam Jew – to be touched personally by the targeted killing of a social activist in Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim country. And yet I am, and deeply so.

A yarzheit candle lit in mourning for Sabeen Mahmud. A yarzheit candle lit in mourning for Sabeen Mahmud.

Sabeen came into my life because after taking my MOOC on Understanding the Brain she followed me on Twitter. On January 31 of this year, she tweeted, “ Hello Prof Mason. I live in Pakistan and am a huge fan of your work, especially empathy in rats” and…

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