May Talks

This month I gave two talks on my two favorite case studies in bad science: lie detection and breastfeeding

The first, “Psychic X-rays: Holy Grail, Cover Story – or the End of Human Rights?” (video; slides) was part of the Border (Dis)placements symposium that took place 13 May at Stroom Den Haag. Psychic x-rays — technologies that claim to see and sometimes change what’s going on inside your mind — are a growing phenomenon. Focusing on the recent case study of EU Horizons 2020-funded “AI lie detector” iBorderCtrl, this talk looked at them through three lenses. As science, they seek the holy grail of a unique sign of internal states like truthfulness. As praxis, they may function as a cover story. Seen through both lenses, they undermine security. Finally, in terms of first principles, they violate cognitive liberty – that sacred internal space where freedom of thought and feeling is inviolate, and the integrity of which is the foundation of all other human rights. Looking at iBorderCtrl through all these lenses shows why we should keep current bans on algorithmic decision-making and profiling, ban mass security screenings for low-prevalence problems, and recognize cognitive liberty as part of human dignity. 

The second, “Exclusive Breastfeeding: Bad Science, Risky Practice, & Failed Policy” (video; slides) was part of the University of Kent, Centre for Parenting Culture Studies’ “Parenting culture and feeding babies” symposium. I Tweeted highlights when I wasn’t presenting.