Not rosy

August 16th, 2011
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“What you’ll hear from me is a far less rosy-cheeked view of this…” -

Annabelle Belcher, interviewed on CBC Radio One’s, The Current

Of course, what Ms. Belcher meant was “rosy”, which she embellished with the rather obtuse “cheeked”. Floating out there is also the expression “rose-coloured-glasses”, which might be resting on those rosy cheeks. “Rosy-cheeked” refers instead to someone, or something, being in good health.

More interesting is the topic Belcher was commenting on – the expanded use of brain scans.  Apparently some neuroscientists are pushing the use of MRIs in, for one thing, lie detection. They believe their research shows that specific patterns on an MRI indicate, “with 70 to 90%” certainty, when someone is lying. By contrast, professionals assess the accuracy of polygraph lie detectors to be no greater than 60%.

Belcher correctly raises the concern that, because the science of brain imaging is far from settled, using MRI patterns to discern something as specific as lying or truth-telling is very questionable. She suggests this might be possible decades from now but that we are nowhere near it today. The contention by some neuroscientists that this is already possible is rosy thinking indeed.

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By John Weissenberger