Objective Brains, Prejudicial Images

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Science in Context 12, 1 (1999), pp.173-201

In this article I argue that brain images constructed with computerized tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) are part of a category of “expert images” and are both visually persuasive and also particularly difficult to interpret and understand by non-experts. Following the innovative judicial analogy of “demonstrative evidence” traced by Jennifer Mnookin (1998), I show how brain images are more than mere illustrations when they enter popular culture and courtrooms. Attending to the role of experts in producing data in the form of images, in selecting extreme images for publication, and in testifying as to their relevance, I argue that there is an undue risk in courtrooms that brain images will not be seen as prejudiced, stylized representations of correlation, but rather as straightforward, objective photographs of, for example, madness.

 

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1999

Dumit 1999 Objective Brains Prejudicial Images – Science in Context

“Objective Brains, Prejudicial Images,” Science in Context, v. 12, n. 1, pp. 173-201.

Chosen for inclusion in the International Library of Essays in Law and Society, Law and Science Volume I: Epistemological, Evidentiary, and Relational Engagements, edited by Susan Silbey, forthcoming, July 2008.

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