Welcome Jonathan D. Moreno (JonathanDMoreno.com) (CenterForAmericanProgress) and Host Jeffrey Kaye (FDL)  (TruthOut.org)

Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century

In 2006, noted bioethicist Professor Jonathan Moreno published a book all about neuroscience and brain research by the Department of Defense and associated academic and private researchers. It was provocative, informative, and unsettling. In other words, it was one hell of a scary – and fascinating – book.

Six years later, Moreno, Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, has updated the book and released a second revised edition, Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century. The book is substantively the same as the earlier version, but updated in a number of places. For all of Moreno’s hopeful words about the military listening more to bioethicists these days, the totality of the work remains frightening in its implications.

Some of the updated material is purely factual. For instance, in the 2006 edition of Mind Wars, Moreno wrote, “The official research and development budget for the Department of Defense is around $68 billion…. Assuming the proportion of R&D to operations in the secret budget is about the same as it is in the Pentagon budget, black R&D funds would be in the neighborhood of at least $6 billion.”

Of course, those numbers were “highly speculative,” but in the new edition, Moreno has updated the figures. Now the official R&D budget for DoD is around $80 billion, while the black or secret R&D budget is estimated at $8 billion. That’s approximately a 17 percent hike in DoD R&D funds in general, but a 33 percent increase in the black, secret budget in just six years.

Moreno’s book is certainly timely, as military research into neuroscience and other brain and behavior-related research is certainly taking off. For instance, see this September 19 ExtremeTech article, “DARPA combines human brains and 120-megapixel cameras to create the ultimate military threat detection system.” (Readers will be glad to know Mind Wars has an entire chapter on the history of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.)

Meanwhile Moreno asks the primary question: Is anyone minding the ethical store? Who is addressing the problems and dilemmas of subjugating science to national defense concerns?

Moreno appears to believe many of those involved in military neuroscience research are far more interested in the ethical issues of the research than is the general public. In addition, a good deal of the military-oriented research has peaceful, domestic applications of great value to society, such as the research that has gone into nervous system and machine interfaces that has revolutionized the field of prosthetics and robotics.

But Moreno also cannot help but notice the history of abuse and secrecy that lies behind much of the government’s actions in areas of research that touch on brain and behavior. Much of the tension in the book rises from this dual use conundrum.

Take the case of prosthetics mentioned above. Moreno notes that the DARPA “Revolutionizing Prosthetics” program is working on a “neutrally controlled robotic arm ‘that has function almost identical to a natural limb in terms of motor control and dexterity, sensory feedback… weight, and environmental resilience.” The research has had some tremendous recent successes, including the movement of “DARPA funded mechanical arms… via the brain signals of a volunteer with tetraplegia.”

Yet, Moreno also posits a “science fiction scenario” right out of the otherwise maligned Star Wars films by George Lucas: “an army of robots capable of movement nearly as precise as that of a human soldier, each controlled by an individual hundreds or even thousands of miles away.”

Imagine these robots could respond almost instantaneously with or even anticipate the intentions of their distant human operators. “Clone wars” indeed! But according to Moreno, “some of the technical requirements for the soldier-extender robot army are, literally, within reach.”

But the military is not waiting for the coming robot wars. Another section of the book concerns other research into changing the cognitive abilities of the Army’s all-too-human soldiers. One of the more controversial research programs concerns the use of drugs like propranolol to forestall the production of PTSD symptoms in soldiers traumatized by the barbarity of battle.

While finding a cure or sure treatment to stop or prevent PTSD is the Holy Grail for some researchers, there are moral and philosophical questions behind such purported medical interventions or treatments. And that’s what bioethics is for, to look at such questions, to try and get scientists and policy makers to look before they leap into the breach with such technology.

Moreno describes these dilemmas well, making them understandable for lay readers, while not hiding his own opinions, and allowing for airing of opposing positions.

But one wonders in the end whether the positive effects of bioethicist intervention can offset the social, political, economic, and psychological influences shaping national science policy, particularly when it comes to the military. How much have things changed since the National Academy of Sciences stated in a 1942 committee report, “The wide assumption is that any method which appears to offer advantages to a nation at war will be vigorously employed by that nation”?

At times Moreno’s book necessarily ventures into philosophical questions, such as what constitutes Mind? What exactly is the connection between Mind and Brain, and can minds be read by an examination of purely physiological processes, as some of the scientists involved in brain scan research contend?

The book covers a number of different areas of research, including so-called “Augmented Cognition,” “brain fingerprinting,” drugs to undo the effects of sleep deprivation, and the use of “non-lethal” weapons, such as “acoustic and light-pulsing devises that disrupt cognitive and neural processes” and “optical equipment that causes temporary blindness.”

As one can see, some of this technology is “offensive” in nature, and promises to revolutionize not only warfare, but also methods of crowd control; and behind that is the larger game, political control. In pursuing such goals, governmental researchers have too often used human subjects in experiments that were highly unethical and illegal. Moreno reviews them here, too, including MKULTRA, the Cameron “psychic driving” experiments, controversies over “informed consent,” and more recent experiments in torture, up to and including Abu Ghraib.

Moreno has plowed some of this material before. In 2001, he published Undue Risk: Secret State Experiments on Humans, a worthy companion to the current book. He has more than an academic acquaintance with these issues, as during the 1990s he was a member of President Clinton’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments.

There is much to talk about and chew over on these very important issues. I welcome Jonathan Moreno to FDL Book Salon.

 

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

132 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Jonathan D. Moreno, Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century”

BevW September 23rd, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Jonathan, Welcome to the Lake.

Jeff, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

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Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Jeff, thanks for the question and for having me on FDL.

Maybe the critics just aren’t talking to me, but I’ve had only positive feedback from the scientific community and from the national security world, both in the US and abroad. Frankly, I’m the first senior academic in the US who has paid attention to the area, so I’m sort of the “go to” guy for this topic. I’ve given invited talks to major science organizations, Pentagon advisory committees, and European and Japanese national security and academic groups. I also have been asked to sit on national security-related committees as a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. This isn’t on the politicians’ radar yet – but then very little is – though I think it will be someday because it’s tied into concerns about privacy. The only critical comments I’ve heard come from my friends who are more conspiracy theory-oriented than I am. They’re entitled to their opinions and for the most part they have been respectful of mine.

dakine01 September 23rd, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Good afternoon Jonathan and welcome to FDL. Good afternnon Jeff and welcome back.

Jonathan, I have not had an opportunity to read your book so forgive me if you address this but I do have a question based on Jeff’s intro today.

It seems to me that if DoD could develop a drug that could “cure” PTSD they would actually be creating a drug that would allow them to get the soldiers to do horrendous things with impunity as the drug would replace the individual soldier’s conscious. Is this a correct interpretation?

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Hi Jonathan, so glad you’ve joined us here. Your book is as I’ve indicated tremendously fascinating. I was wondering what kind of reception you’ve gotten about the book from scientists, particularly those who are engaged in government-sponsored research? I think you mentioned some positive feedback, but has any of it been negative or hostile? What about reactions from politicians or policy makers?”

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Oops, I see you’ve answered my question already, well let me ask you this, were any government agencies uncooperative with you, or documents difficult to obtain?

Elliott September 23rd, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Greetings, welcome to the Lake (and Hi Jeff!)

To me the idea of DARPA and war robots is chilling -how long do you think it would take to actually have a working model of a robotic soldier?

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:03 pm

The issues stated in your book seem to pop out in medical and science news on a daily basis, as in this article in Medical News the other day: “Emotional Memories Can Be Erased from our Brains”. The premise is that if you use extinction training during the process of consolidating a memory, you can erase a fear response if that memory was fear-inducing. But the conditions of the experiment seems to have little relevance to how real-world conditions typically unfold. Also, the conclusion is based on a brain scan and an assumption that fearfulness is localized in the brain’s amygdala.

In other words, I don’t think they’ve proven anything yet (the results have not been replicated to my knowledge, either). How much do you think sensationalism is a problem in the claims of various neuroscientific experiments?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:06 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 5

Everything I used for the book is public record. Which reminds me of the radical journalist IF Stone’s remark that there’s a lot of amazing stuff out there if people would just pay attention to it. In the case of Mind Wars I mainly “connected the dots” of DARPA sponsored projects, like papers in places like Nature. I was mainly concerned that I would be scooped, it seemed so obvious. However, as I’ve written, at that time DARPA didn’t respond to my missive to their public affairs person. Though that didn’t prove to be a problem.

dakine01 September 23rd, 2012 at 2:06 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 7

(link gives FDL 404 error)

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:08 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 9

Don’t know what happened. Here’s the link: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/250568.php

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:08 pm
In response to Elliott @ 6

Depends what you mean by a robotic soldier. Samsung has a working test model already that the South Koreans have deployed on the DMZ. In the Wall Street Journal a few months ago I pointed this out and argued that there should always be a human in the loop for offensive weapons. However, the Navy already as missile systems like Aegis that are defensive and pretty much autonomous. Nearly 300 people were killed in 1998 in an Iranian airliner by such a system, which we are told has been adjusted since then. So even defensive systems can make lethal errors.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:09 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 5

Obviously I read your mind, Jeff.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:09 pm
In response to Jonathan Moreno @ 8

I know what you mean about open source material, and the feeling of being scooped, b/c so much is out there already. Here’s one example, and I wonder if you could comment, since it is pertinent to your topic.

As you know, I’ve been researching and writing about the U.S. torture program under Bush, but also back to the Cold War, and also what is happening currently. You may have seen my discovery that a November 2006 “Instruction” from the Secretary of the Navy (3900.39D), “Human Research Protection Program,” referenced use of drugs and mind-control, calling into question whether the old MKULTRA experiments ever ended or have been revived.

The memo included waivers of informed consent on prisoners, including so-called “unlawful enemy combatants,” if the Secretary of the Navy determines there exist conditions of “operational contingency or during times of national emergency.” Section 7(a)(2)(a) of the memo appoints the Undersecretary of the Navy as the “approval authority” for research done upon prisoners, as well as “Severe or unusual intrusions, either physical or psychological, on human subjects (such as consciousness-altering drugs or mind-control techniques)” [emphasis added].

Could you comment on this?

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:10 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 10

I guess you were an eyeblink faster than me ;-)

Where’s my coffee?

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Reminds me of the “Doomsday Machine” in Doctor Strangelove.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:11 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 7

Sensationalism and under-reporting of negative results are huge and related problems in modern science, especially when big grants or contracts are involved, not to mention tenure and promotion.

RE extinction training: A scientist pointed out to me that you might not be left with only a fear-less memory, you might alternatively be left with a memory-less fear. Which would be worse!

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Hmm. Very curious that you’ve associated criticism and conspiracy theory from the get go, especially in light of the covert and insidious nature of prior mind/brain experimentation.

That’s reveals a biased stance.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:15 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 14

I can’t prove a negative but so far I haven’t seen convincing evidence of follow-through on these policy exceptions. If they did they would be in violation of the common rule on research. The truth is of course that the natsec community always wants an elastic clause and will create one retroactively, or try to. But the CIA also got hammered in the 19760s for MK ULTRA, etc., so no guarantee that this would work. But of course this is a long and complex topic.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Biased on whose part? And why? I have no dog in this hunt. But the question was whether I’ve had critical reception and that was my answer.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:17 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 16

A brilliant treatment of the insanity of MAD that I show my students who were born after 1991!

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Please give your two best examples of “peaceful, domestic applications of great value to society” which can counterbalance the destructive potential sought in the technologies creation.

Isn’t the argument that dual (and compensatory) use only propaganda? The choice to pursue these technologies are only made in the interest of suppression, or, at best, to outdo the capabilities of a competitor. What kind of ethics can one find in that?

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Well, must wondering why the Secretary of the Navy would bother to mention such topics in a 2006 “instruction” on human research. Of course, there were more recent scandals for DoD, post-MKULTRA, such as the Project Shad scandal that came out a few years before 9/11.

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 2:20 pm

No, you’ve associated all critical responses with conspiracy-mind. That’s bias.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Jonathan, if you have a nightmare over where all the “progress” in the field of neuroscience and behavioral research is headed, what is that?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:22 pm
In response to Ludwig @ 22

Fair question. The examples are mainly in the clinical use of drugs and devices for amputees and other physical disabilities, people with depression, sleep disorders, etc. Or even for people who want to learn faster and say awake longer. Most of what I write about are “dual use” technologies, which makes managing them difficult.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:23 pm
In response to Ludwig @ 24

I don’t think of conspiracy theory as a pejorative term. Maybe that’s why we disagree.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:24 pm
In response to Ludwig @ 24

I do think that’s unfair, Ludwig. It may reveal that you enter this discussion with a bias of your own. Not that that’s not inevitable for any of us, but I do think you’ll get farther with substantive questioning and making the points, “conspiracy” related or not, of your own. I say this as someone who has often been labeled as “conspiracy-minded” myself, so in other words, is said with some sympathy.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:25 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 25

Discriminatory treatment of people who have unusual neuroanatomy is one. Another is intensified societal pressure to use cognitive enhancers, especially warfighters who can’t say no to very much. We know they already have a tough time readjusting to civilian life. Doing without some of the drugs or devices we are talking about makes it even worse.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:26 pm
In response to Ludwig @ 22

The choice to pursue these technologies are only made in the interest of suppression, or, at best, to outdo the capabilities of a competitor. What kind of ethics can one find in that?

I do agree that it is a real question as to whether or not the negatives outweigh any positives is a real dilemma. For me, and I wonder if you could comment, Jonathan, the question falls as to WHO is making such determinations?

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Just how involved is the CIA in all this research? What are the connections, if any, between how the Pentagon and the CIA coordinate their concerns? Are you aware of any special research focus coming from the Special Forces Command of the U.S. military?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:29 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 28

And if I might add, some of the most provocative reactions I’ve had to my book and talks are from people who are “in the establishment”. For example, I’ve been told that the “men who stare at goats” work isn’t quite over yet. That surprised me.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I was wondering then if this would also form an answer to dakine01′s question above, “It seems to me that if DoD could develop a drug that could “cure” PTSD they would actually be creating a drug that would allow them to get the soldiers to do horrendous things with impunity as the drug would replace the individual soldier’s conscious. Is this a correct interpretation?” Or is there more you’d like to say about that?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:32 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 30

Right, and this is very tough. I am opposed to physicians’ involvement in secret interrogations, for example, but what if the subject has a medical problem that needs monitoring? The lines of social control are often messy when dual use is possible. We have the same problem with chemical agents like calmatives.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Yes, this whole ESP, or control from a distance kind of thing, has been an interesting side issue to all this, and for some people is a major concern. I think it’s mostly a disinformation thing, or at best, an example of people fooling themselves.

By the way, I liked the Clooney version of “Goats”

BevW September 23rd, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Could you give some examples of how far DARPA/DOD has gone into the area most of us would call “science fiction”?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:34 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 33

Neuroscientists I talk to doubt that the pathways are so discrete that this could ever be done. And we know that a minority of warfighters can be made to do horrendous things just on alcohol. There’s plenty of evidence of that from the Red Army’s conduct in WWII.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Well, officially, the AMA is against physician involvement in interrogations even to the degree that one is monitoring the health of someone who is being interrogated, especially if its torture. But the same issue comes up over physician monitoring of hunger strikers, or of death row executions, But medical ethics questions might end up taking us too far from the main topic, or does it?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:36 pm
In response to BevW @ 36

Wow, where to start? One of my favorite examples is the idea of using pretty complex creatures like rats as robots (the roborat), or instantaneous human-machine interface. Lots of other examples in the book.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about a little reported but terrible episode in history, the Unit 731 experiments by the Japanese in WWII (and before). I know you wrote about it in Undue Risk, but I wonder if you know of any further developments in terms of releases of documents, or whether the government still hides info on biological warfare research in the early 1950s?

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Conspiracy theorist is not pejorative? Well, that’s broad-minded of you.

DWBartoo September 23rd, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Thank you, Jonathan, for joining us this evening, and thank you, Jeff, for hosting this Book Salon.

Jonathan, by “difficulty”, one supposes that you mean several things which includes, WHO decides WHAT is to be “done” WHEN, HOW, and to WHOM?

This is where, from my perspective, professional standards and ethical consideration MUST enter the picture. For example, Mitchell and Jessen, apparently, determined that they had no problem with establishing the torture regime so infamously used after 911 … and the “difficulty” is made more “interesting” when we are speaking of the national security state and use of state secrecy.

“Dual use” technology does not appear to be subject to clear guidelines, which is, doubtless, intentional. However, the competition for funding and prestigious government contracts, even if secret, certainly must drive a ready willingness to overlook, and too often, to overcome issues of basic and ethical, as well as humane behaviors on the part of “experimenters”.

Do you see any substantive efforts being made or can you imagine that, someday, such efforts might be made, here in the US, to come to grips with this reality and the serious consequences and repercussions which will inevitably attend the misuse of such technology and “understandings” of how the human brain functions?

DW

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 2:38 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 28

Good show.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:39 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 38

Medical ethics is definitely relevant. In the previous example I had in mind a subject with a known ongoing medical problem unrelated to the interrogation. Certainly anyone in prison is entitled to medical care, so this is a stickier problem than the AMA prohibition, though I agree with it in general.

seaglass September 23rd, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I have nightmares built around the possible and varied uses of drugs commonly used in surgery today that erase memory. I’ve experienced there use a few times and fear in the wrong hands they could be used in ways that might not be very ethical. Have you looked much into such scenarios? The MIB device seemed far out back when, but it’s really not that far fetched if you look at the effect of these drugs.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:40 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 40

The Japanese still don’t take responsibility for 731 and related horrors but there is a lot of scholarship in Japan and China since I wrote Undue Risk. Too bad it’s not translated. Two Canadian scholars claimed that the US did use biological weapons in the Korean War but that’s in hot dispute.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:40 pm
In response to Ludwig @ 41

I do think you don’t recognize the unintended irony of your comments, but our author here is probably too modest to mention it. Have you read Moreno’s book, which I cite in my review, Undue Risk: Secret State Experiments on Humans? I believe Moreno has had his own history of being accused of being “conspiracy-minded”.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:42 pm

I recently obtained copies of the investigations by both the Soviets and the “International Scientific Commission” of Joseph Needham, FRS and others. I’ve already found much that hasn’t previously been noted. That’s why it’s so important to look at the documents first hand. I’ll be reporting on these matters later.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:43 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 42

I don’t think we can avoid the problem indefinitely. I’m very interested in efforts to develop new international protocols that cover this stuff, for example. Not all of it is covered by the current treaties. But for domestic law and regulation the work will have to be done from many different agency perspectives and will require inter-agency coordination at the highest level.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:44 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 47

It’s true I was accused of conspiracy preoccupations due to Undue Risk. I don’t worry about labels.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:44 pm

In your 2011 book, The Body Politic: The Battle Over Science in America, you talk about “biopolitics” as a “nonviolent struggle for control over actual and imagined achievements of the new biology and the new world it symbolizes.” By “new biology” you refer to the accelerating discoveries occurring in the world of genetics, stem cell research, of the fight for “control over the tissues, systems and information that are the basis and manifestation of life in its various forms.”

While you expand the struggle to include all kinds of controversies between social actors over issues like organ transplants, stem cell research, abortion, etc., does not your work on neuroscience and the military bring us face to face with the significance of state control over our biological destiny?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:47 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 51

It sure does, and I’m grateful for all the work you’ve done to prep for this discussion, Jeff. One of the odd turns of our political history since the 1950s is that small government advocates don’t see the national security system as big government, but Ike and Robert Taft certainly did. It was the “liberals” who wanted to expand DoD after the war. Maybe someday this paradox will get the voters’ attention.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:47 pm

The whole biological weapons used in Korea by US forces controversy is quite germane to the origins of the US torture program, btw, since it was charges of “brainwashing” by Chinese and Korean interrogators that were supposed to invalidate the confessions of airmen that they participated in such biowarfare activities.

seaglass September 23rd, 2012 at 2:49 pm

I’d be curious to know if anyone in or out of Gov’t is doing anything in the area of genetic or chemical mediated adaptation to a much warmer world in the future?

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 2:49 pm

“whether or not the negatives outweigh any positives” is not objectively calculable, were it even a sincere interest. It is not, dual-use is an excuse, and the only persons with a pretense of evaluating the ethical balance are biased.

As DWBartoo leads, the impact of the development of offensive technology corrupts the entire science profession. Have you any comment on the larger question of professional ethics impacted by this research. As the APA turmoil demonstrates, this corruption goes unchecked until exposed. The covert nature of this work is not conducive to ethics.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:51 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 4

Since we’ve got radio silence for a moment I might add to my earlier response to Jeff that the global English language Russian TV network RT is interviewing me Thursday, which is interesting considering the historic interest in mind control experiments during the Soviet era and Putin’s recent comments on this.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Well, you were a consultant, I believe, to the Obama transition team in 2008 or 2009. Where is the Obama administration on these issues? Also, any insight into the kinds of people surrounding Romney and where they stand or how they think? (By the way, I see your son has put up a website to get young people registered online for the Vote. That’s quite cool.)

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 2:52 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 47

Ah. Then why aren’t some of his critics establishment-minded?

DWBartoo September 23rd, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I certainly hope that you are correct, Jonathan.

However, an effective rule of law, in the US, and respect for international law, by the US, are at the lowest and most blatantly obvious “level” that I have over the last four decades, and the unwillingness of the Obama administration to “criminalize” what the administration considers to be “policy differences” with the Bush administration, which “policies” some of the rest of us term “torture”, suggests that the problem will be with us for more than a little while, and frankly, that some very serious “consequences” and “blow-back” may be required before any substantive progress may even begin, domestically.

A “measure” of this nation’s willingness to engage in establishing and FOLLOWING, in embracing, fully, those international protocols you mention might be determined by how our government chooses to react to the resent Italian Court’s decision regarding certain CIA agents …

DW

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:53 pm
In response to Ludwig @ 55

My understanding of the “dual use” issue is not that it is something engineered by government, but a necessary outcome of “progress” in science, and the dilemma over it was something that bothered thinkers as far back as Mary Shelley, whose book Frankenstein created a symbol for such dual use of science, i.e., for good or evil, to help humanity or to destroy or control it.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:53 pm
In response to seaglass @ 54

I don’t specialize in climate policy but “adaptation” is the theme of much analysis right now since just about everyone agrees the climate is changing whether it’s human activity or not. But it’s more about restricting residential and sensitive industrial development near oceans and vulnerable infrastucture in places like Manhattan and economic impact than anything biological.

BevW September 23rd, 2012 at 2:53 pm
Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:54 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 59

I don’t disagree.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Any chance you have a link or a moment to summarize Putin’s comments, as I was unaware of them?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:56 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 57

I was on the transition team for review of the Bush admin’s bioethics council. Right now I’m a consultant to the Obama bioethics commission and helping with a staff paper on neuroethics. The commission might want to get into this area if they continue their work next year but they haven’t decided yet.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:56 pm

You write about the fMRI brain scanning technique and its use for national security applications. It’s certainly been touted as the next “lie detector” and some contend the technology is already there. But there has been a significant controversy in recent years about the “inflation of correlations” involved in interpreting fMRI results, a controversy that challenges basic assumptions about how fMRIs are calculated and interpreted.

“Are you familiar with this controversy (here’s a link to an article about it), and more generally, how do you think the impact of research programs themselves, which generate money, career opportunities, and promise for military needs, bends or twists the science involved?”

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 2:59 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 66

fMRi is an industry alright. Besides under-reporting of negative results there’s also the fact that just about every neural pathway and organ is “recruited” for many different functions, so one should be careful about making extravagant claims based on oxygenation. It’s somewhat similar to the idea of a “gay gene” or a “God gene” or something — the base pairs do many things in various networks.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Seems to be about microwave weapons, and the article refers to DARPA research.

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 3:01 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 60

No. Dual-use is an excuse for inventions brewed in the military cauldron. This technology is not neutral, it is not developed to be neutral, and only a fraction of the money spent on it’s development is spent on searching for beneficial uses.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I totally agree with you on this, but you’ve no idea how many rank-and-file psychologists fall for this pseudo-scientific stuff. Although “pseudo-science” is probably not an accurate term, since scientific methods are being used, but with rigor, and sometimes with dishonesty. That’s what makes it so hard to distinguish what is science fiction and what is something to truly be feared (and discussed).

How do “bioethicists” deal with this on a professional level?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:02 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 60

Worth remembering that the monster in Frankenstein was the scientist. They’ve had a PR problem for a long time!

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:05 pm
In response to Ludwig @ 70

Well, then it is both, then. I work in a field — psychology — where it is quite evident that knowledge or research into what makes a human being function or adapt is also knowledge into how a human being can be made dysfunctional or unable to adapt.

Certainly genetics, for instance, can be used to help discover and treat genetic diseases. It can also be used to determine what kinds of diseases are vulnerable to a particular population, and target research against such populations with viral or bacteriological weapons, something Moreno has written about I believe.

Anything you’d like to add to the “dual use” issue, Jonathan?

dakine01 September 23rd, 2012 at 3:06 pm
In response to Ludwig @ 70

Not to go further off-topic but at least in PTSD related research it doesn’t take much to find areas where it can be “dual use” I have friends who still suffer PTSD from the Northridge quake, folks who suffer from PTSD after deadly fires, deadly shootings, etc

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 3:06 pm

So. Did you survey, off the record, scientists’ ethical doubts about their research?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 71

Everyone is fascinated by the nice pictures of brains “thinking” about something. Psychologists are no less susceptible. I do think that the very few people who focus on neuroethics are aware of the pitfalls (e.g., of scans of normal volunteers with anomalous neuroanatomy, which is usually meaningless). The hope is of course that we stumble toward greater understanding. Eugenics should have taught us about our fallibility. It takes decades to move ahead in science, especially with natural systems with so many variables.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:08 pm
In response to Ludwig @ 75

I did, and I describe these conversations in the book, but there’s more awareness among neuroscientists now. There are some who think all natsec related grants should be avoided, but others who note that they have to do with medical problems. The debate is ongoing.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:08 pm

To step back and get very general here, Jonathan. What does one do with the issue of national security, science and secrecy? If so much is secret, including the discussions about things, how can a society determine if the right questions are being asked, or controls put on use of this research?

I’m remembering, btw, the secret discussions at DoD over the Nuremberg Principles, which ended in the promulgation of research protocols that were then kept secret! and ignored for decades, i.e., the Wilson memorandum.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:09 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 73

There’s no easy way out of this. It’s the nature of the beast. We just have to keep working at it.

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I take it that “some” means few.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:11 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 78

The late Sen. Moynihan was terribly worried about secrecy. It’s corrosive. And the tragedy is that hardly anything that’s classified is really sensitive, but it undermines trust.

I write about the Wilson Memo (1953) in Undue Risk. The memo was classified but the policy was not supposed to be. The real problem was that informed consent was and remains an odd concept in the natsec system.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:12 pm

On a personal note, what was it like to be a member of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments? Was that an important experience for you?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:14 pm
In response to Ludwig @ 80

I don’t know how to characterize it but the Society for Neuroscience has had sessions on neuroscience and society and there’s a petition going around from a fellow at Oregon State urging that neuroscientists don’t accept defense-related project grants.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:15 pm

On the issue of informed consent, I think I read that you made a comment somewhere about how these issues can be finessed in natsec realm by claiming that research, e.g. on prisoners, like the Guantanamo detainees, is not actual research (i.e., for “generalizable knowledge), but merely “field testing” of some program.

Is this not nitpicking to find loopholes, and allowing terrible things to be done in the name of natsec?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:15 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 82

I was senior staff, not a member, and it was career-changing. I realized that so much bioethics plays out in the national security environment. I’m still trying to get more students to get into this field but it’s a challenging area because we’re so civilian-agency oriented in academia.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:16 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 84

Yes, but field testing is a Catch-22 that I have urged people not to use. Like “quality assurance” instead of research, right?

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I guess I was wondering even more personally, if I may be so intrusive. Any of the things you’ve studied in this realm really shocked you? Something that personally motivated you in your work?

I know this happened to me with close forensic and clinical work with torture victims. What about you?

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 3:18 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 73

It is false that any technology or research is equally useful for benefit or malice. In addition, as I noted above the money to develop beneficial use is mush less than for malicious use.

Isn’t the very development of these technologies under secrecy ethically unjustifiable?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:19 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 84

By the way, over 200,000 soldiers and marines were deployed for “training” at the atomic test shots, hardly any were asked for consent and those that were seemed to have been in psychological observation studies.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:21 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 87

I was disturbed that so many people felt that the federal govt didn’t care about them when years later they realized they were downwind of the above ground tests, and especially by the Bikini Atoll natives whose culture was destroyed by the Pacific tests and the families of the Navajo uranium miners. There was plenty of sadness in that project.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Yes, that’s another one. “Quality assurance.”

Btw, I see the new DoD instruction of human subject research not carves out a prohibition on research on the “unpriviliged combatants”. But then, it also makes clear that research must be only about “generalizable knowledge” and not for “field testing”. And that of course means that the behavioral experiments run on detainees by the BSCT, or even my own recent discovery that the anti-worming medical protocol given to all Gitmo detainees on an “empiric” bases, was to be “tested” for effectiveness, i.e., it wasn’t sure back in 2002 whether such procedures were actually effective, or what dose would be used, etc. I think that’s an example of what I’m talking about. A bigger example was the mefloquine use, which a doctor in a recent edition of Tropical Medicine and International Health questioned was for medical use at all.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:23 pm
In response to Ludwig @ 88

I never said “any technology or research”. That is a straw man. Also I don’t deny what you are saying about military rationale for funding destructive technologies, so why are you arguing with me?

DWBartoo September 23rd, 2012 at 3:24 pm

The undermining of trust, Jonathan, is ubiquitous, and this Presidential election, in which NONE of the most important issues, whether it be war, or the horrific consequences of a monied elite who have been permitted to render the nation unable to provide for its own needs while robbing the people of worthwhile endeavor, the ability to make a living, and the “killing” on Wall Street which has affected millions and which will NOT be prosecuted, will not be discussed …

Civil society is teetering toward collapse and trust has been essentially undermined to the point where it can be argued that the government of this nation does not deserve the consent of the people nor the assumption that the government is, any longer, legitimate.

Civil society must be premised upon a functioning rule of law … AND trust, trust that the government serves the interests and needs of all of the people and not merely those of the corporate and monied elite, which includes the Military, Industrial, and Congressional Complex, to give it the full name that Eisenhower initially used to describe his concerns.

DW

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 92

Because of the euphemism “dual-use”.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Were you aware of the findings of the late Sheldon Harris re how the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were also used as guinea pigs, and that attempts to publicize their condition at the time, or provide extra medical care, would get military personnel or others in occupied Japan threatened with charges of sedition at military tribunal by the Occupying Forces? It’s in the rev. edition of Factories of Death (on Unit 731).

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:25 pm
In response to Ludwig @ 88

Isn’t the very development of these technologies under secrecy ethically unjustifiable?

I think this is the question, indeed.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:28 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 91

Jeff, I’d be grateful if you could send a link to that instruction.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I will try and find it. Give me a minute.

Meantime, there was a lingering, if general question I did want to ask, since Mind Wars is a revised edition. Did you learn anything that was substantively new to you in writing the updated book, as compared with the 2006 edition?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:29 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 93

I agree it’s a bad time, but 1939 was worse and so was 1968. We can recover.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:30 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 95

Yes, I was on a program with Harris at the Holocaust Museum in the late 1990s. He really opened up this subject.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Here it is, dated November 8, 2011. “Protection of Human Subjects and Adherence to Ethical Standards in
DoD-Supported Research” (PDF)

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/321602p.pdf

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:31 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 95

And my Penn colleague Susan Lindee has written the definitive book on the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission and the tensions between US and Japanese physicians.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I wish I could have your sense of optimism about these kinds of things. To me, the overwhelming tendency is to cover up crimes, to repeat the past, to reward those who serve the state in the most servile ways, and stumble towards catastrophe.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:33 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 101

I remember this now. Notable that it includes reference to the Belmont Report. To give DoD its due, they adopted the Nuremberg Code (at least in theory) long before the medical community adopted consent standards (at least in theory!).

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:35 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 103

That’s why I read so much history. It’s therapeutic just knowing we’ve manged to stumble along so far.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Ah thanks, I will look that one up.

Most may not know this, but when one journalist, John W. Powell, (and two others) reported on charges of US biological warfare in Korea and China in the 1950s, he was arrested in the US and charged with sedition, and later with the Espionage Act. The charges were dropped in the early 1960s when it became evident the defense was going to get documents or witnesses that would embarrass the government on this topic.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I take it in your comments on the fMRI that you do not think that brain scanning will reveal a lot about what a person is thinking.

What is your impression about all the work done with neuroscience and the ability to capture “deception.” A lot of money, including black money, I believe, is being spent on this. Isn’t it a waste? How many lives will be destroyed by use of such faulty technology? (Same goes for the more traditional lie detector technology)

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I’d like to think that the new instruction was in part a reaction to exposes done by people like Jason Leopold and myself on the earlier Wolfowitz instructions.

But aren’t the exceptions to “informed consent” enough to allow pretty much any researcher citing military contingency and secrecy to drive a truck through (forgive the plentiful mixed metaphors)?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:41 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 107

I’ve often said that I’d be more confident about deception studies if we knew what we meant by deception! It’s pretty complicated, as you psychologists know. There does seem to be some experimental validity to the “guilty knowledge” paradigm but only under strict laboratory conditions. I’m not holding my breath, but I do worry that some idiot judges will start admitting evidence from EEG or something.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:42 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 108

Yes they are. I can’t disagree. People with this kind of power need to know their actions are under scrutiny. There’s no single way to do that.

DWBartoo September 23rd, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I am not certain that I can agree with your suggestion that there have been occasions when “things” were “worse”.

Capitalism is at a end-state, technology permits the use of drones, which I consider to be morally equivalent to the use of V-rockects, and spying upon the public at levels heretofore unimaginable, indeed perceiving “the people” as the enemy, by the government, is now openly expressed in legislation such as HR 247.

Clearly, there is also a militarization of the nation, ongoing, and one must consider that secret and not-so-secret wars are the “future”, as they say, “looking forward” … about as far as the mind’s eye can “see” …

I consider THIS time to be different, in substantial degree, and the clear and evident breakdown of empathy, of compassion, and of a sense of rational and reasonable “limit”, suggests that this nation, our nation, intends to play the game of world domination to the bitter end of empire.

Empires do not, generally, end well, and we are witness to the rather far-along beginning of that end.

As well, the public is woefully, and deliberately, uninformed, to a level which would be embarrassing were it not so potentially tragic.

DW

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 3:43 pm

If “many of those involved in military neuroscience research are far more interested in the ethical issues of the research than is the general public”, what are they doing about them?

Second, what advice is given in the book for the public to effectively intervene on ethically compromised research, to enhance the exposure of such, and on the structural issues of scientific research for military (hegemonic) deployment?

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:44 pm

It really comes down, in my opinion, to the money. Theres’s plenty to be made selling the government new supposedly effective methods to help them find, question and control the “bad guys” (whoever they are today).

What specific recommendations have you or others made to address the issue of the contamination of science by money?

DWBartoo September 23rd, 2012 at 3:48 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 113

Yes, Jeff, it were wise to be clear that this is the age of the Divine Right of Money.

When a “society” has determined that money is ALL that matters, “how” it is gotten matters little at all …

Its pursuit justifies all things, especially to the degree that “profits” may be “privatized” …

DW

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:49 pm

What is your opinion of when academic researchers hide their government connections. I’m thinking of a CIA Behavioral Analyst (who I won’t name here now, but have done so before) who speaks at conventions, scientific gatherings, etc. and sometimes hides his connection to the CIA, putting forth only his academic credentials?

How widespread to you think such things are in academia, and what do you think of the ethics of that?

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:49 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 107

Just want to add that the false positive rate will always make this stuff impractical on a retail scale, like in airport screening.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:52 pm

That thought brings me back to the important issue of under-reporting of negative findings (we called it the “file-drawer phenomena” in grad school, i.e., the research with negative findings weren’t reported, just filed away).

Again, what does this mean for the average person trying to assess what is real in all this controversy? How do the “professionals” handle this issue?

DWBartoo September 23rd, 2012 at 3:52 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 115

Might we term such behavior “dual ruse”?

I do often wonder just how wide-spread such deceit might be.

DW

BevW September 23rd, 2012 at 3:53 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon discussion,

Jonathan, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and the future of brain science.

Jeff, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Jonathan’s website (JonathanMoreno.com) and book (Mind Wars)

Thanks all, Have a great week.

If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:53 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 111

I don’t do prediction. If you’re right I’m sad for my kids. But I think we can intervene. I’d quibble about some of your comments. For example, the country was more militarized in WWII than ever before or since. There was intense propaganda and information control of the media, for instance. That’s what inspired Orwell. But I agree we have become a national security state, which is what some warned about at the beginning of the cold war.

BevW September 23rd, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Check out this website (by Jonathan’s son)
Our Time – Standing Up For Young Americans

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:55 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 117

Very poorly, IMHO. In the future we need to develop systems of large datasets and mandatory reporting. But that will run against intellectual property constraints so it won’t be easy.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:55 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 118

I think there is a lot in human nature that is resistant to “objective” examination of data, including both “dual use” and “dual ruse” information. There are plenty of cases in science where out and out fraud has damaged a particular field. Sometimes it’s ignored overall (I’m thinking of the fraudulent twin studies of Cyril Burt) and other times it eviscerates a field (cold fusion).

My guess is that with natsec, a lot gets overlooked because both careers and money, and political positioning is at stake.

Jonathan Moreno September 23rd, 2012 at 3:55 pm
In response to BevW @ 119

Thanks to all. My fingers are tired!

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:57 pm
In response to BevW @ 119

Jonathan, thanks so much for coming to the Lake and spending your valuable Sunday time with use. Thanks also to the ever wonderful Bev, and to commenters DWBartoo, Ludwig and others for their stimulating contributions.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 3:58 pm

I bet. Me too.

DWBartoo September 23rd, 2012 at 3:58 pm

A most-excellent Book Salon!

Thank you, Jonathan.

Thank you, Jeff.

Thank you, Bev, as always.

Thanks to those who commented.

An important and critically necessary discussion.

I hope, Jonathan, that you and Jeff might continue this discussion sometime, in future, as I’m certain that the discussion MUST be ongoing and intensified.

DW

Ludwig September 23rd, 2012 at 3:59 pm
In response to BevW @ 121

Will do. Thanks all.

Jeff Kaye September 23rd, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I must say I agree, in that the national mobilization during WWII for militarization was quite massive, and far beyond what we have now. On the other hand, the post-9/11 propaganda fear machine over terrorism has been something of the same sort, and the vast sums plowed into “homeland security” and evisceration of civil liberties is frightening.

But for those who want to get how a whole society goes on a war footing, though not a U.S. example, check out the excellent British series, Foyle’s War.

DWBartoo September 23rd, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Well, Jonathan, I would suggest that in the waning months of WWII, and even before the war, the decision had been made in certain intellectual circles that the US would dominate the world, and since 911, the militarization and lock-down of the nation has NOT let up nor diminished.

And, I AM very concerned for my children and their cohort, not least in terms of dire environmental calamities and social repression, already opportunity is severely limited and especially in terms of education. One imagines that “austerity” will simply make all of these things worse … and worse.

Frankly, I am not at all sanguine in my sensibilities of what is to come. Of the nature and “quality” of the world that our children will inherent, in fact, already own, for you and I are but guests in their world, as I perceive the human “condition” and it would behoove us, we older ones, to never forget that reality … being as we are responsible, at least MY generation is, for permitting and allowing what is being done in our names, the killing, the wounding, and the destruction.

DW

DWBartoo September 23rd, 2012 at 4:15 pm
In response to Jeff Kaye @ 123

I quite concur, Jeff, and do consider that such deceit is growing, and may, very soon, become a “universal” and accepted “norm”.

Thank you for encouraging and hosting this discussion.

DW

Suzanne September 23rd, 2012 at 4:16 pm

so sorry i missed this — tis a fastinating book

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