Don’t even think about lying

From Steve Silberman, my favorite Wired writer, this piece about the reinvention of the science of lie detection through the use of functional MRI (fMRI) shows us on the crux point of transformation in hte security industry, the judicial system and our notions of privacy. The science is far ahead of the polygraph and proponents suggest so should its acceptability in the courtroom, given the fact that findings are based on peer-reviewed research and precedents such as DNA testing. The central scientific premise is that lying takes mental effort, because a person knows the truth and has to suppress it to deliberately dissemble, and that that is detectable on fMRI, which is a graphic way of watching regional cerebral metabolism (in technicolor); readers of FmH know I have long been enamored of fMRI-based insights into the localization of brain functions. The central legal battle shaping up with constitutional and privacy-rights advocates is that the technique is construed as threatening to “replace the jury as the lie detector”. Well worth reading; stay tuned, since I hope to be tracking the controversy here as it continues to unfold.


The lie detector you’ll never know is there : “The US Department of Defense has revealed plans to develop a lie detector that can be used without the subject knowing they are being assessed. The Remote Personnel Assessment (RPA) device will also be used to pinpoint fighters hiding in a combat zone, or even to spot signs of stress that might mark someone out as a terrorist or suicide bomber.” (New Scientist)

After Sharon: Bush’s Mideast Agenda

“President losing tough-guy friend in unfriendly region: Without Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, who lay gravely ill Wednesday night after a devastating stroke, President Bush’s Middle East ambitions become even more bizarre and out of reach.

In addition to its vaunted regime change in Iraq, what Bush and his neocon advisers want to do is carry out regime change in Syria and, most importantly, Iran. Now, with the hardline Sharon fighting for his life, the region could be thrown into chaos.” — James Ridgeway (Village Voice)

Semen Displacement as a Sperm Competition Strategy in Humans

Abstract: The human penis as a semen-displacement device: “We examine some of the implications of the possibility that the human penis may have evolved to compete with sperm from other males by displacing rival semen from the cervical end of the vagina prior to ejaculation. The semen displacement hypothesis integrates considerable information about genital morphology and human reproductive behavior, and can be used to generate a number of interesting predictions.” — Gordon G. Gallup, Jr. and Rebecca L. Burch (Human Nature)

How One Disease May Prevent Another.

Review of Disease Pairings Could Provide New Therapeutic Approaches: The knowledge that one disease may prevent the onset of another is not new. For example, the discovery that cowpox vaccines can prevent smallpox dates back to 1798.

Dr. E. Richard Stiehm, a professor of pediatrics at the Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, researched examples throughout medical history of ways that one disease prevents another.

His findings suggest that genetic, infectious and metabolic influences should be considered when looking for treatments, particularly in regard to HIV/AIDS.

“Clinical observations of disease-versus-disease interactions have led to an understanding of the mechanisms of several diseases,” Stiehm said. “In turn, these observations have led to the development of vaccines, therapeutic antibodies, medications and special diets.”

Detailed in the January 2006 issue of Pediatrics, the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Stiehm’s research illustrated 12 disease pairs, reviewed their therapeutic implications and suggested additional applications.” (UCLA)

Dogs still dying

Too many owners remain unaware of toxic dog food: “Even though Diamond, Country Value and Professional brand dog foods have been recalled for containing highly toxic aflatoxins, they have caused at least 100 dog deaths in recent weeks, say Cornell University veterinarians, who are growing increasingly alarmed. Some kennels and consumers around the nation and possibly in more than two dozen other countries remain unaware of the tainted food, and as a result, they continue to give dogs food containing a lethal toxin.” (Cornell Veterinary School)

Extra Armor Could Have Saved Many Lives, Study Shows

“A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.” (New York Times )

Add to that the proportion of roadside bombing/IED deaths attributable to inadequate armoring on U.S. military vehicles and perhaps half of the 2200-plus families of American GIs lost in Iraq ought to realize that the murderers of their sons and daughters are Americans.

Then there are the other half of the grieving families who should consider that, in another sense, all the deaths in Iraq have been needless deaths (even if you believe in the necessity for ‘just war’ at all), based as this war has been on craven deception, cowardice and criminal intent on the part of the Bush cabal.

And we should keep in mind as well that the tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian victims don’t have any armour.