Torture and Cognitive Dissonance | Slugger O’Toole

http://sluggerotoole.com/2016/01/15/torture-and-cognitive-dissonance/

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Torture and Cognitive Dissonance | Slugger O’Toole

http://sluggerotoole.com/2016/01/15/torture-and-cognitive-dissonance/

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What made Charles Darwin an Effective Thinker? Follow the Golden Rule

https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2016/01/charles-darwin-thinker/

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What to expect in 2016 at Science Gallery Dublin

Would you choose to erase a traumatic memory? Will we be farming more guinea pigs than chickens in the future? How much of what you see is really there? And what happens when creativity, art, and engineering mix with power, pain and politics.

From trauma and farming to seeing, design and violence, the 2016 programme at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin will embrace a number of bold and compelling themes offering our visitors opportunities to connect with work that probes surprising, compelling and participative ideas.

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Latest reviews and a video clip for ‘Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation’

‘Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation’

1 December 2015 – Trinity College Press Office

Torture doesn’t work because the information secured is deeply unreliable for reasons rooted deep in the functioning of our brains, according to a leading Irish neuroscientist who presents a compelling evidence-based case against torture in a new book published by Harvard University Press this month.

There is no scientific basis for the claim that torture works to extract reliable information from detainees, according to Shane O’Mara, Professor of Experimental Brain Research and Director of the Trinity Institute of Neuroscience in his new book,Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation.

Drawing on neuroscience and cognitive, social and clinical psychology, as well as examining the use of torture in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Cambodia, Algeria and by the CIA, the book is a detailed account of the human brain under stress and demonstrates that torture is at best ineffective, usually counterproductive, and always inhumane.

“For ethical reasons, there are no scientific studies of torture. But neuroscientists know a lot about how the brain reacts to fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, and immersion in freezing water, all tools of the torturer’s trade. These stressors create problems for memory, mood, and thinking, and suf­ferers predictably produce information that is deeply unreliable—and, for intelligence purposes, even counterproductive.”

“In particular, torture works well to extract confessions, but torture is useless for extracting useful, reliable information from memory. Torture may get someone to talk, but there’s no evidence that it’s the truth. Confession evidence derived from torture is voluminous and nonsensical – consider the numbers of witches that torture proved existed.”

Citing extensive research on the effects of sleep deprivation, pain, drowning, heating, cooling, sensory deprivation he reveals how common torture techniques don’t work the way tortures assume they do. These techniques actually undermine the neurocognitive mechanisms required for recalling accurate information and damage memory, mood and cognition.

For example the prolonged release of stress hormones damages the hippocampus, which is crucial for retrieving memories. Sleep deprivation erodes memory processes and general cognitive function. It also profoundly and negatively affects mood, compromising cognitive function further.

In the book Professor O’Mara points the way to a humane approach to interrogation, founded in the science of brain and behaviour. He draws together the latest research in interrogation to present a new framework for behavioural and brain science-based interrogation, drawing specifically on recent research in clinical psychology, and other relevant domains.

“Ethical and humane interrogations based on fostering respect and modern brain and behavioural science yields usable, verifiable, and actionable intelligence. Interrogation needs to be conducted by highly skilled, well-educated, highly-self-aware interviewers; they need to be able to actively listen to subjects, be genuinely curious about people, and able establish a connection with them. As professional interrogators themselves say, ‘torture is for amateurs’”.

Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation by Shane O’Mara Harvard University Press.

Media Coverage:

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Job Vacancies: Associate and Assistant Professors in Psychology related to Global Brain Health at Trinity College Dublin

Associate and Assistant Professors in Psychology related to Global Brain Health at Trinity College Dublin

The Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) is a joint venture of Trinity College Dublin and the University of California at San Francisco that aims to train national and international Fellows and Scholars to become leaders in brain health, with a view to developing scalable interventions and policies that will reduce the incidence and impact of dementia worldwide. These four academic positions in the School of Psychology are open to exceptional scholars committed to the training, teaching and research mission of GBHI (50% of the post) and also developing a strong associated research programme in brain health within the School of Psychology and, where appropriate to the candidate’s background, also within the Institute of Neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin. Applications from individuals with a background in human psychology research with a strong research record in a field related to brain health, such as cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology or health psychology, for instance, would be welcome.

For further details, see: https://jobs.tcd.ie/pls/corehrrecruit/erq_jobspec_version_4.display_form

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Torture doesn’t work, says science: Why are we still doing it? Review in New Scientist

“Enhanced interrogation” may get someone to talk, but there’s no evidence that it’s the truth. A new book cross examines the true consequences of torture (review by Carl Elliott, MD, PhD Professor, Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota).

Source: Torture doesn’t work, says science: Why are we still doing it?

A review of Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation (Amazon) or from Harvard University Press.

Why Torture Doesn’t Work is a valuable book. O’Mara builds his case like a prosecutor, citing scientific studies and relentlessly poking holes in absurdities and inconsistencies in documents such as the “Torture Memos”. Whether science matters to those who defend torture is another matter, as O’Mara knows: their motivation is often punitive, not practical. But once torture is imposed, the consequences, he says, are that it will be “ineffective, pointless, morally appalling, and unpredictable in its outcomes”.

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