* Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, has some thoughts about torture.
* Al Jazeera wants a copy of that Bush memo. So does conservative MP Boris Johnson, who says he’ll print rhe memo and bollocks to the Official Secrets Act.
* Generate singing text automatically.
* BoingBoing also has a comprehensive roundup of the Sony rootkit fiasco: here, here and here. If you have Sony music CDs and don’t know about this problem, you seriously need to read these and then go here to find out how to mitigate your risk. Read our previous coverage here.
* New test can diagnose schizophrenia before symptoms start. On the downside, there’s still no cure. How early would you want to know?
I wasn’t aware that the schizophrenia link is subscribers-only. Here’s the key info:
But Ruben Gur and his colleagues are convinced it works. Earlier this year, they claimed that they could use the technique to detect whether individuals are lying or telling the truth (see Nature 437, 457; 2005). Now they have turned their attention to mental disorders.
They used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of 69 schizophrenia patients and 79 healthy controls. The images were analysed by computer to produce an algorithm that could tell the two groups apart. Rather than focusing on specific areas of the brain thought to be affected by the disorder, as has been tried in the past, they looked for subtle changes across the whole brain.
This type of approach has proved successful before — but only for images used to derive the algorithm. As soon as fresh images were introduced, the success rate plummeted. But this time the researchers say that they have overcome this problem and that they were able to classify new individuals as schizophrenic or healthy with 81% accuracy (C. Davatzikos et al. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 62, 1218–1227; 2005).
If I invented an HIV test that was 81% accurate, I would throw it out the window. No scratch that, there’s a chance that somebody might pick it up and use it. I’d throw it in an incinerating compactor. The accuracy number indicates false negatives rather than false positives (I assume), but assuming that the test has a false-positive rate of more than one percent (which seems safe) and a real schizophrenia prevalence of one in ten thousand (pdf), less than one in a hundred positive tests will actually have the disease. As much as I appreciate the potential for functional MRI (fMRI), it looks to me like they have a ways to go yet.