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Reference: Chuong CM et al (2002). What is the 'true' function of the skin? Experimental Dermatology 11; 159-187.

A long, detailed collection of viewpoints about the skin and its functions (abstract). Then you get to Viewpoint 5, pp172-173 (pdf), and notice that the section is titled 'The skin can think: a modest proposal and its critique by NIH.'
The epidermis and the rest of the skin are richly innvervated with both sensory and motor nerves, general and specialized receptors, for various sensations, and even the immune system of the skin has prominent neurological connections. There are formal efferent and afferent nerve pathways throughout the skin which are repetitive and can be thought of as the physical strata of a Turing Machine.

Turing Machine, you think? But that's just the start...
Is there evidence that the skin is conscious and that the skin can know itself? Consciousness is the holy grail for those interested in thought, the mind and epistemology. Since consciousness is difficult to define short of a tome, I will say that there is no evidence either way on the conscious nature of the skin. [...] I often hear a gentle humming from my skin late at night as it contemplates the body over which it resides and rules, a sign of a sentient organ and probably a form of consciousness.

Then he gets on to the experiments:
The essential element of the experimental approach that is proposed is to leave the skin relatively intact but to free it from the inhibitory systems of the general body. Using the Hannibal Lecter full skin dermatome (Harris, 1998) the entire skin will be removed from an animal severing all connections of the vascular, neurological and immune systems between the skin and the rest of the body.

The best bit, though, is the closing NIH summary review statement:
The thinking skin has broad national importance, since it wil become necessary to win the hearts, minds and now the skins of those the government wishes to influence domestically and around the world. Failure in American policy in the past may have been due to failure to recognise that the skin thinks. For these reasons the Departments of Defense and State are the appropriate organs of the government which should be reviewing this proposal for funding. The decision not to fund this proposal by NIH should not be taken as a statement against the scientific rationale or approach the investigator proposed.

Those wacky scientists, eh?
That's unbelievably wonderful and creepy, all at the same time.

Mason only had his face off (unless there's someone else in the book version)..."Barker, 1986" would be a better reference for the full bodyectomy.

That would be a good horror story: someone has their skin taken off and it turns out that what we think of as "self" is the skin-self, and there's a whole other person trapped inside that is capable of independent life.
That would be a good horror story

I'm freaked out just by the prospect of this story existing, let alone actually reading the bloody thing. It's like Greg Egan (think 'Learning To Be Me') vs Edgar Allen Poe or something.

God damn.

-- Tom
Gregan already pretty close (http://eidolon.net/?page=//issue_05/05_demon.htm). More stories like this!

Am considering doing this for my journal club next week.

-- Tom
Wow. I can now add "skin-thinking" to "gut reaction" for describing those thoughts that don't seem to come from the brain, but from something more basic.

It captures right that vague, tenuous sense of unease or anxiety that (for *no reason* at all) are provoked by people, situations -- and ghostly group senses like anticipation or panic.

I wonder if he's read "The Body Politic" by Clive Barker?
I wonder if he's read "The Body Politic" by Clive Barker?

There's an email address; someone could ask him...
Um, wow?
I vaguely remember a recent-ish story about a woman who had an allergic reaction to something and her top layer of skin fell off and she got this new method of emergency treatment that saved her, or something. Of course, that was 'only' the top layer, but I wonder if it affected her thinking at all, as according to these wacky scientists...
Ha! A bit like sparkymark's suggestions, I guess; lose your skin, lose your personality. It would be a horror version of Charlie Stross' 'Tourist', almost...
After all, if skin could think, what would it be thinking?

"Creams, lucious skin creams!" what?
After all, if skin could think, what would it be thinking?

If the research doesn't get funded, we may never know!
A botox on both your houses!
After all, if skin could think, what would it be thinking?

It certainly gives one pores for thought.

But I'm skint of ideas...
*groan* ;)
Starting a pun war was a rather rash move, i'd say.

-- Tom
Well, I'd be all a-buzz wrinkled in thought, but alas, I hive to concentrate on work.
It's for the best - those were pretty bloody flaky.

-- Tom
Bloody flaky? I think this thread is drying up fast, and we have no refreshening ideas to sustain this epic-endurance. So let's stop before we all crack up.
Isn't that a little over-emulsional?
Damn! Exfoiled again! ;-)
"Scratch me. Yeah, right there. A little lower, please... ahhh, that's the spot."