MIT

The American Mind Remains Grounded In 18th Century Calls For Liberty

Our friends at the Sam Adams Alliance produce a worthwhile podcast called Engaging Democracy. Its most recent episode is of particular interest during this season of celebration of America's founding in independence and liberty: Too often we think of our separation from Great Britain as an instigation of a few great men. Not so. Rather, as Thomas Jefferson said he tried to convey in the Declaration of Independence, it was a reflection of the American mind — a growing call of people from all walks of life who were expressing themselves in local resolutions calling for independence and the manifestation of their God given natural right to liberty. In the "You Never Know Where A Conservative Will Pop Up" category, host Eric O'Keefe interviews MIT historian Pauline Maier, often seen on The History Channel, and author of American Scripture, for her take on how the Declaration was influenced by an increasingly popular sentiment throughout the colonies. 

While July may evoke thoughts of and provoke interest in our founding history, our liberty remains under attack by those who viciously ram at us bigger and more monstrous governmental control. Today is similar to then. The admonition by our Founders after independence to vigilantly preserve our liberty has become a vigilance to return to our liberty. That makes this 7-minute podcast worth the listen.

Click here to listen to Engaging Democracy: Getting the Founding Right featuring Pauline Maier

First It Was The Twinkie Defense, Now Will It Be, "Magnets Made Me Do It"?

Criminals have concocted, "experts" have agreed with and society has accepted over the years, some of the most extraordinary excuses for illegal behavior. "Temporary insanity" comes to mind. How about the absurd "Twinkie Defense" used by the murderer of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk? Now, we may have another wacky defense on the horizon. According to a new report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, via Discovery News, scientists from MIT, Harvard and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center . . .  

are able to scramble the moral center of the brain, making it more difficult for people to separate innocent intentions from harmful outcomes. The research could have big implications for not only neuroscientists, but also for judges and juries.

In a test, subjects read a story while scientists applied a magnetic field using a method known as transcranial magnetic stimulation. The magnetic fields created confusion in the neurons that make up a certain part of the brain, causing the subjects to conclude different moral judgments about the story. The scientists admit the differences weren't dramatically different and that in order for a jury to be affected, there's have to be one pretty big magnet hanging over them.

Still, we're not surprised such research is going on and that it's caught the attention of some enterprising ne'er-do-well and criminal defense lawyer, not to mention scoundrel politician. Just remember that when the next sensational crime hits the headlines, and the suspect claims the magnet defense, or a lawyer claims jury tampering by magnet, you read it here first.