back to article Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates

Sinister news today, as psychologists in the US unveil plans for so-called "neuromarketing" - the use of magnetic-resonance brainscans to maximise the appeal of products while they are being designed. Dan Ariely and his colleague Gregory S Burns - professors in the fields of psychology, behavioral economics, psychiatry and " …


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  1. Anton Ivanov

    Welcome to Web 3.0

    I think it is time to reread Snow Crash. Or to move to a country where owning the tools to deal with such neuromarketeers is legal.

  2. Eponymous Cowherd
    Big Brother

    Don't tell Gordon

    Or we'll have Minority Report for real.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old idea

    Neil Stephenson already fictionalised this idea in Interface.

    Quite a good novel IMHO but these researchers need to read it.

  4. Jacqui

    Roll on


  5. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

    Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again

    This morning the ticket arrived.

    it's the one with "Rebecca" in the pocket

    1. Evil Auditor

      A ticket to...

      Let me guess: one-way to the asylum?

      Mine's the one with Zyprexa in the pocket.

  6. lglethal Silver badge

    They want us to design our politicians???

    Hmm i wonder where they will find enough mute (so they cant talk to us or debate bills), armless (so they cant take bribes or sign any new stupid laws), and chipped (so we can keep track of them at all times) people to fill parliament?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Didn't Zaphod Beeblebrox find a way to bypass this?

    With a big "B-B" in the neurons of his brain?

  8. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Nothing sinister here...

    ...because it is all bollocks.

    An NMR scan might tell you something about a few individuals' subconscious reactions to stimuli, but it won't tell you anything about how those same individuals make conscious decisions, and therefore won't be useful to politicians unless we assume that the average voter does not engage any conscious thought processes at all before casting a vote.

    1. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

      Conscious Thought to Vote...

      "unless we assume that the average voter does not engage any conscious thought processes at all before casting a vote."

      You've looked around this country lately, right??

    2. fajensen Silver badge

      That So?


      how those same individuals make conscious decisions


      A "conscious decision" is just the brains cheesy after-the-fact rationalization of the outcome of the human decision-making process - which happens to have more in common with a Pachinko machine than people like to realize!!

      IOW - there are few "conscious" decisions!

  9. Evil Auditor

    Not necessarily a bad thing

    Just that I cannot think of something un-evil right now.

  10. robert cooke

    Bill Hicks had the right idea

    “Does anyone here work in advertising or marketing? Well if you do, when you get home take a gun shoot yourself. No bullshit, I'm not joking just do it. I'm just sowing seeds, one day they may take root."

  11. Juillen 1


    What they'll get out of it is that we're all royally teed off at having advertising thrown at us.. And that building the "ideal political candidate" will entail having one be honest, do what they say, and be practical and pragmatic rather than throwing money and zeal at all the political fringe stuff in the hope of sounding "modern and progressive and fluffy". If they get that message out of it, then maybe some good will come.

    Really, I rather do expect it'll be used as a way to find extra weasel space for them upset everyone but make sure it doesn't last long enough to hamstring them the next time they're up for election.

    Esc because it's always in the same plane as the end.

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      Maybe not:

      The human brain likes to fill in empty voids thereby creating order and meaning. Thus it follows that the most electable candidate will be the most empty and vacuous, who's speeches can mean anything (or nothing) being entirely made up from plus-words, sound-bites and random quotations.

      Everyone fills in their own interpretation of the noise and is therefore convinced that they agree entirely with the candidate - because the candidate is a mirror-image of themselves.

      ...It will be hard to beat Obama at this game, but it will certainly be done. As long as she's got big tits, we will not be worse off than now.

  12. Captain Hogwash

    I'll believe it when...

    ...they can design some music that appeals as much to the average RnB fan as to the average Prog Rock fan. It'll never happen.

  13. Graham Bartlett

    @AC: "Interface"

    You beat me to it. Neal Stephenson was there *so* far ahead of these guys.

  14. adam 77

    Marketing hype^2

    This is marketing hype aimed at marketing pros. What will an advertising

    exec with no ideas and a wad of cash spend do? He will get the magic

    scientifical mind reader machine to do his ad campaign for him. Never

    mind that it in reality it will be marginally more effective than administering

    the standard marketing exam asking the test subject to rate

    like/dislike/how strongly, the same questions. And the tinfoil hat crowd will

    give this additional credibility. Even if the marketing exec knows it isn't

    magically going to invent the new killer product he could definitely

    convince his CEO of that and cover himself later with "it was cutting edge


  15. Luther Blissett

    Re-electing Obamama again. And again. And again.

    It's one thing to elect a president - let's admit Obama's backers mounted an effective campaign. But I would really like to see this idea go, in particular to see what they come up with to keep Santa's ratings from changing in a way everyone can believe in. Mr Bojangles doin' the ol' soft shoe, perhaps? Or maybe, just maybe, implementing the policies he was elected on?

  16. TimeMaster T
    Black Helicopters

    Now what am I going to wear??

    Tin Foil won't stop this kind of tech. What am I going to make my hats out of?

  17. Petrea Mitchell

    Don't panic

    This would be an excellent time to talk about the limitations of fMRI.

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