What if what you saw with your eyes could be interpreted in a brain-scanner? Well, that just happened. Check it out:
Gallant’s coauthors acted as study subjects, watching YouTube videos inside a magnetic resonance imaging machine for several hours at a time. The team then used the brain imaging data to develop a computer model that matched features of the videos — like colors, shapes and movements — with patterns of brain activity.
“Once we had this model built, we could read brain activity for that subject and run it backwards through the model to try to uncover what the viewer saw,” said Gallant.
Subtle changes in blood flow to visual areas of the brain, measured by functional MRI, predicted what was on the screen at the time — whether it was Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau or an airplane. The reconstructed videos are blurry because they layer all the YouTube clips that matched the subject’s brain activity pattern. The result is a haunting, almost dream-like version of the video as seen by the mind’s eye.
(via ABC News)
I’ve taken a few swipes at the so-called pro-life crowd over the past couple of weeks, mostly as a result of statements by the candidates and the behavior of audience members at the two most recent GOP debates. My argument has been, I think, fairly straightforward: If you say that you hold human life to be sacred, for whatever reason, then you can’t also cheer about people’s deaths — even if they’re people you don’t like or with whom you don’t identify, like criminals or the uninsured.
Now, from Mississippi, we have a stark contrast:
The family of an African-American man who died after allegedly being beaten by a group of white teens and run over by a truck is asking state and federal officials not to seek the death penalty in the case.
Relatives of James Craig Anderson, who died shortly after receiving his injuries on June 26, sent a letter with their request to the prosecutor in the case, Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith.
“We ask that you not seek the death penalty for anyone involved in James’ murder,” the letter states; the letter is signed by Barbara Anderson Young, James Craig Anderson’s sister who is in charge of, and speaks for, his estate.
The letter states that the family is opposed to the death penalty partly for religious convictions.
“Our opposition to the death penalty is deeply rooted in our religious faith, a faith that was central in James’ life as well,” the letter states. But the family goes on to explain that there is another reason for their opposition, one that is tied to Mississippi’s racial past.
“We also oppose the death penalty because it historically has been used in Mississippi and the South primarily against people of color for killing whites,” the letter states. “Executing James’ killers will not help to balance the scales. But sparing them may help to spark a dialogue that one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment.”
This family is pro-life.
They argue that the death penalty violates the core tenets of their religion and they argue that it is bound up with societal injustices that have deep roots in our history. Public and non-public reasons are being employed here, and you can take your pick as to which you find to be compelling. But even if you aren’t convinced by either one of the arguments they make, you have to agree that this is what a pro-life position looks like.
Now … what do you suppose the prosecutor will do?