Voodoo Science

In what is one of the best examples of voodoo science and the gullibility of the law that I have seen in a long time (ever?) a court in India has accepted a scientist claims that his machine can measure guilt.

The International Herald Tribune reports a case concerns a woman who was accused of killing her former fiancé by poisoning him.The legal system decided to test the Brain Electrical Oscillations Signature test of Neuroscientist Champadi Raman Mukundan.

The test to measure her guilt consisted of placing 32 electrodes on the accused head. They interrogators then read aloud their version of events, speaking in the first person along with with neutral statements. From this the software distinguishes memories from normal cognition. Even if the accused said nothing her brain reacted when the crime was described. The judge agreed that the scans were proof of “experiential knowledge” of having committed the murder, rather than just having heard about it.

Obviously there are too many reactions to this! But let’s ignore the obvious lack of technical reliability, the need to prove the technology and the differences in legal and scientific methods and standards of proof.

Lets just say that the accused may have a guilty conscience in relation to the victim for several reasons other than the fact she may or may not have poisoned him. In addition to this she may lack any emotions of guilt even if she poisoned him.

The scary part is that the dignity of science is accepted without too many pertinent questions by the court and create real consequences.

Voodoo Fetish Market, Lomé by themanwithsalthair

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