Monthly Archives: September 2010

Gladwell on social media

by Robert Bond

Malcolm Gladwell has a new piece in The New Yorker on social media and activism. I have linked to it here.

In the article Gladwell makes a lot of assertions about how people use social media and what it is/isn’t useful for doing. Most of these assertions are not based on research; rather, they seem to be based on what he assumes about how Facebook and Twitter are used. This is a great article to get some hypotheses about how people actually use these types of media!

Government and Social Media Wiki

by Lindsay Nielson

Here’s a heads up about a new database, just in time for the campaign season to kick into full swing: the Government and Social Media Wiki. It tracks which government officials and offices use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr. The database includes members of the House and Senate, some congressional committees, federal agencies, governors, and even some candidates for House and Senate. So if your research requires you to keep tabs on Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck on Foursquare or stay up to date with Senator John Thune’s MySpace page, here’s an easy way to do it.

The Cognitive Science of Consciousness

By Patrick Rogers

The current issue of Cognitive Neuroscience is a special issue on the neuroscience of consciousness. Of particular interest is the article by Victor A.F. Lamme, “How neuroscience will change our view consciousness“. From the abstract:

…the study of consciousness is dominated by what we know from introspection and behavior. This has fooled us into thinking that we know what we are conscious of. …in fact we don’t know what we are conscious of. …The exercise is an example of how neuroscience will move us away from psychological intuitions about consciousness, and hence depict a notion of consciousness that may go against our deepest conviction: “My consciousness is mine, and mine alone.” It’s not.

The rest of the issue is behind a paywall (UCSD has institutional access), but this article freely available to everyone.

Using fMRI for Lie Detection

By Patrick Rogers

Political scientists don’t typically have to worry about the ethical implications of their research the way a nuclear physicist might. After all it’s hard to see how an improved understanding of the differences between presidential and parliamentary systems can turned into a weapon.

The turn towards brain imaging, genetics and social networks does however raise a troubling issue with how our work might be used to diminish the privacy and independence of people in society. A perfect example of this can be found right here in San Diego with No Lie MRI, which uses fMRI to offer “truth-verification” services for $5k a pop.

Fortunately, the use of such technology is inadmissable in court, thanks to the Daubert Standard; however, this relies on the fact that such use of fMRI has heretofore been limited to laboratory conditions, and hasn’t been well-tested “in the field”. It’s not clear how long this limitation will remain.

Something for all of us to think about in our own research efforts.