Author Topic: Episode #717  (Read 3494 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Episode #717
« on: April 06, 2019, 03:58:25 PM »
News Items: Fossils from the KT, Brain Scans as Evidence, Mars Methane Mystery, AI Designed Materials; Who’s That Noisy; Your Questions and E-mails: NASA Space Suits, Flat Earth Fail; Science or Fiction
Steven Novella
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Offline skepticahjumma

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2019, 10:37:49 PM »
I am a criminal defense lawyer by profession. I found the part about brain scans and criminality to be very interesting. On a practical matter, in my jurisdiction, and I think in most jurisdictions, juries are not told the sentence that a defendant is facing. Nor can a jury choose to sentence someone to hospitalization over jail. To my knowledge, most juries have nothing to do with sentencing.

The use of brain scans in a criminal trial would be a doubled edged sword. On the one hand, a defendant could argue that she has a neurological or other predisposition to behave in a certain way, and so she may be less culpable for her act. And yet, a brain scan could also be used for positive or negative to show a defendant is more/less likely to have committed the offense. I can’t figure any rule of evidence that would allow a brain scan to be used in a trial to show that person has a propensity to commit a certain crime.

The show seemed to talk about the subject as a data point for people choosing what the sentence would be after a person was found guilty. I’m very reluctant to consider how a brain scan could be used in the guilt/innocence phase. In my jurisdiction, the jury makes determination of guilt or innocence, and if a guilty verdict is rendered, the judge decides the sentence at a later date. Further, as the State has the burden of proof, a brain scan would likely be inadmissible unless the defense brings it up. I can’t come up with a legal theory that would allow a brain scan without the consent of the defendant.

So I found the topic very interesting, but irrelevant in actual practice. At least right now. This is very similar to how we currently deal with mental health. If it is helpful to a defendant, the defense will bring it up. If it’s not helpful, it won’t be mentioned. The prosecution can’t offer the defendant’s mental health as evidence toward guilt.

Offline Friendly Angel

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2019, 12:07:18 AM »
In a fun bit of ironic coincidence, I was listening to Steve talk about the Cambrian explosion... while I was walking through downtown Cambria, CA.
Amend and resubmit.

Online Tassie Dave

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2019, 03:15:03 AM »
It's called "The Mexican Wave" in Australia and in other parts of the world because it first came to our attention at the World Cup (Soccer/Football) in Mexico in 1986.

It's not racist. If anything, us (non-Americans) using that term is a positive acknowledgement of Mexico's part in its worldwide popularity.

« Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 04:42:54 AM by Tassie Dave »

Offline Harry Black

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2019, 06:27:56 AM »
Obviously there are some mental illnesses which can cause people to behave in ways they would rather not under most circumstances and people in this category absolutely should be cared for in the proper way.
If technology helps us to find such people then thats a win for society.
If a brain scan just shows that a person was more likely to commit a certain offense in general, then I am not really interested in using it to post hoc reduce their sentence. Finding the best way to reduce reoffending should be the priority of the judicial system and should balance with representation of the victims.
Basically, outside of specific conditions, I think such information is interesting and may help us in the future, but is not relevant to how we should be sentencing a given criminal.

Offline lucek

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2019, 07:53:11 AM »
Tangent on the quote any thoughts on the rpg kickstarter that the Chinese government thought needed to be burned?

You have the power, but. . .
Power is just energy over time and. . .
Energy is just the ability to do work.

Online JohnM

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2019, 10:40:40 AM »
It's called "The Mexican Wave" in Australia and in other parts of the world because it first came to our attention at the World Cup (Soccer/Football) in Mexico in 1986.

It's not racist. If anything, us (non-Americans) using that term is a positive acknowledgement of Mexico's part in its worldwide popularity.

You beat me to it. It's no more racist than calling something like french fries or English muffin lol

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2019, 10:57:45 AM »
Like Jay, I would also have liked to see some definition of "heavy alcohol use", which I don't think was defined in the episode apart from "daily".

This British site could be helpful in that: Alcohol units
"I appear as a skeptic, who believes that doubt is the great engine, the great fuel, of all inquiry, all discovery, and all innovation" - Christopher Hitchens

Online 2397

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2019, 01:31:18 PM »
Black Mirror is one of those shows I wonder if I should watch so that I know what to criticize, but from what I do know I have no interest in it. I have a similar take on alcohol. I don't need to have a hangover to know that I don't want to have one.

Steve goes over the suit story and concludes that it confirms his original take on it. What I heard was that it was all about the money, I guess confirming my bias. But I wonder how was NASA supposed to have fixed the lack of suits problem within the constraints they've had? When the suits were built for what their circumstances were 40 years ago, it seems entirely logical that they're not going to be highly adapted for current circumstances.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 01:39:57 PM by 2397 »

Online JohnM

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2019, 02:13:52 PM »
I queried Cara on Twitter about the term for some clarification here is the exchange.

Hi Cara. Bit of an over reaction to say the term 'Mexican wave' is racist. It's simply because that is where Europeans first saw it.
Response
I didn’t say it was racist. I said it *sounds* racist to American ears, because of the intense anti-Mexican sentiment bolstered by our own president in this country. It’s a sad example of internalized racism. 😢

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2019, 03:41:41 PM »
Obviously there are some mental illnesses which can cause people to behave in ways they would rather not under most circumstances and people in this category absolutely should be cared for in the proper way.
If technology helps us to find such people then thats a win for society.
If a brain scan just shows that a person was more likely to commit a certain offense in general, then I am not really interested in using it to post hoc reduce their sentence. Finding the best way to reduce reoffending should be the priority of the judicial system and should balance with representation of the victims.
Basically, outside of specific conditions, I think such information is interesting and may help us in the future, but is not relevant to how we should be sentencing a given criminal.

I think that this instinct is important when reimagining our criminal justice system into a rehabilitative rather than a punitive one, and I think that understanding how these biases and emotional reactions work will be important to selling it. I agree that it has limited practical use in individual sentencing, although I think that there are clear cases where it should matter individually even within a system that is based on punishment of acts of free will.  For instance, a person who commits a crime due to the effects of a brain tumor that can be removed; I don't think that such a person should be held responsible for his actions after cure even in a system based on a belief in personal responsibility.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Online 2397

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2019, 03:54:07 PM »
Maybe it can help sell it, but I think that if people care about what works, it would be easy to look to almost any other Western country and learn how to make dramatic improvements to the US' justice and prison system.

Online Tassie Dave

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2019, 04:02:57 PM »
I queried Cara on Twitter about the term for some clarification here is the exchange.

Hi Cara. Bit of an over reaction to say the term 'Mexican wave' is racist. It's simply because that is where Europeans first saw it.
Response
I didn’t say it was racist. I said it *sounds* racist to American ears, because of the intense anti-Mexican sentiment bolstered by our own president in this country. It’s a sad example of internalized racism. 😢

It's political correctness gone too far. I do think CSM is an outlier in her views on this term.

Offline Harry Black

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2019, 04:15:06 PM »
Too far? Or a false positive in a time when people (especially of latinx descent such as Cara) may be on edge given the current climate.
Whats the actual harm she has done?

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Episode #717
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2019, 04:18:49 PM »
It's political correctness gone too far. I do think CSM is an outlier in her views on this term.

What exactly do you think her views are?
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

 

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