March 1, 2004

Mind reading for justice, or, Your thoughts betray you, young Skywalker.

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at March 1, 2004 5:28 PM

via Google News:
New technology used in death row case

DALLAS, March 1 (UPI) -- Attorneys for an Oklahoma death row inmate may try to use a controversial new forensic tool called brain fingerprinting to overturn their client's conviction in a 1994 double murder.

Jimmy Ray Slaughter was sentenced to death for the slayings of his former girlfriend, Melody Wuertz, and her 11-month-old daughter, Jessica, in Edmond, an Oklahoma City suburb.

His defense team brought in Dr. Larry Farwell, the neuroscientist who pioneered the new technology that measures whether a person's brain has recorded certain information. Farwell said his tests found Slaughter's brain lacked essential facts about the crime that the killer would know.

First of all, this is very cyberpunk, and therefore I applaud it. Aesthetic considerations aside, I wonder how the fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination would apply to this technique, if it were used to as evidence to convict rather to exonerate. I assume the defendant would have to agree to have his brain scanned.
And then there was this quote:
Brain fingerprinting is based on the involuntary split-second blimp of electronic activity that fires in the brain when it recognizes information, the so-called P300 wave. Farwell has improved on that basic science with his own system that he says is 100 percent accurate in some cases.

What kind of statement is that? "100 percent accurate in some cases" isn't really 100 percent accurate, is it?


I think the Fifth Amendment precedent would be the forcible taking of DNA and blood samples which are not considered a violation of the self-incrimination clause but I can't for the life of me remember why.

Posted by: Dad | March 2, 2004 9:51 AM

Yeah, I love the accuracy statement.

Also, the guy's last name is Slaughter. Is this a beautiful country or what?

Non sequitar: Did you read the Physics Today article about Lev Landau and (in particular) the paragraph about his 1-5 finger rating for women? (It's _really_ funny...) Lev Landau is even more of my hero than he was before...

Posted by: Mason Porter | March 7, 2004 8:07 PM
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