Eternal sunshine of the innocent mind

Photo copyright The Rat BatWell, India has set itself a goal of being the most screwed up country in the world, and they are well on their way to achieving that goal.

This is the country where monkeys invaded a city, and the city people couldn't kill the monkeys because other people worshipped them, so they hired bigger monkeys to take care of the smaller monkeys.

This is the country where a girl was force to marry a dog in order to lift a curse.

So I shouldn't be surprised that this is the country that did an MRI of a defendant in a court case, and based on the results concluded that she had committed the crime, and sentenced her to life in prison.

And I thought breathalyzers were potential problems in legal cases... this goes beyond everything.

The way this device supposedly works is as follows:
  1. They strap you in
  2. The prosecutor reads to you what they think the crime was, in "first person voice" (i.e. "I went to the store", "I bought the arsenic")
  3. They watch the MRI to see if your memory lights up, indicating that you remember the event, and thus must have been there.

Does this make sense to you? Me neither. First of all, if I wanted to beat one of these things I'd just ignore the prosecutor and think of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Or if I don't want to destroy the world I'd just do multiplication tables in my head or write code. Since there's no way to know if the person is actually listening (the subject isn't allowed to speak), there's no way to know if they're NOT listening either.

Also it's quite notable that the research which led to the invention of this device has not been peer-reviewed. There was someone in the article who was impressed by the device but he is a polygraph expert, among other things. Anyone who believes in polygraphs would believe in this thing.

It's important to be skeptical. It's critical, in fact, to doubt things, because only doubt can lead to truth. So I hope this device remains in India for ever; but if some reputable people can validate the results I'll change my mind. I won't hold my breath.

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