May 6, 2010

Lie-Detection Brain Scans and the U.S. Legal System (Round 1)
A judge in Brooklyn ruled to exclude fMRI evidence in an employer-retaliation case, delivering another blow to proponents of lie detection by brain scan. The scans didn’t even make it to the hearing that normally is used to determine the admissibility of scientific evidence in New York state court. (Alexis Madrigal, Wired Science, Wired.com)

Emergence of Cooperation
A statistical-physics-based model may shed light on the age-old question, “How can morality take root in a world where everyone is out for themselves?” Computer simulations by an international team of scientists suggest that the answer lies in how people interact with their closest neighbors rather than with the population as a whole. (Edwin Cartlidge, physicsworld.com)

Does Prayer Have Significant Secular Benefits?
Judge Barbara Crabb claims that the day of prayer has no secular effect. This is odd because she does say prayer is a way to find truth, express joy and gratitude, and seek comfort and forgiveness. (The Christian Science Monitor)

Prayer Is Personal
Wendy Cadge: My research suggests that people who pray want the experience to be intimate, personal, and spontaneous. Nothing could be further from this than an organized, politicized, nationalized day of prayer. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Essential Posthuman Science Fiction Reading List
Science fiction has always asked what comes after Homo sapiens. A superhuman version of our species, or a dying planet devoid of intelligent life? This list of 35 essential posthuman novels will get you started answering the big questions too. (Annalee Newitz, io9)

MOVIES
Babies

This 79-minute trifle, which tracks the budding lives of four wee ones from four dramatically different parts of the world (Japan, Mongolia, Namibia, and the United States), doesn’t overdose on adorability. French director Thomas Balmès is a very, very passive documentarian: no narration, no talking heads, and not much editorial decisiveness, either. He just sets up the camera and lets the first year of life unfold, from birth to baby steps. (Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly)

Category: Field Notes

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