Monday, November 17, 2003


I have not been able to get a look at the original research results behind This report that racism can be detected by brain activity. The report is obviously sensationalized in that it refers to “white” racism only. Presumably black racism could be detected in a similar way. But I guess we are not supposed to mention black racism.

But assuming that the report is otherwise accurate, it fits in well with the point I often make that there is much evidence to show that racism of some sort is universal and natural. So if people are asked to suppress it -- which political correctness forces them to do -- some harm will result. And exactly that is what is reported: Suppressing banned thoughts is difficult and requires a lot of brain activity which could be better devoted to other tasks. And that people who have stronger convictions about the reality and importance of racial differences are the ones who find suppression of such views hardest is equally no surprise.

The thing that will disturb most people, however, is that something as private as one’s thoughts can now be detected by a scientific machine. Suppressed thoughts about ANY subject would seem to be detectable by such a procedure. Orwell’s “Big Brother” has arrived and the old anti-Nazi slogan Die Gedanken sind frei (Thoughts are free) is no longer true! Note however that a Leftist who is trying to suppress (say) his contemptuous thoughts about ordinary people could be similarly caught out. As soon as that realization dawns, I am sure the procedure will be BANNED!

I might point out in passing, however, that what the procedure does is not much different from what a traditional lie-detector test does. It just reports an upsurge in neural activity but detects it in a slightly different way. What are the actual thoughts behind that neural activity is, however, essentially a guess and there are ways of spooking the procedure.

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