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Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense Hardcover – November 17, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Imagine a future conflict in which one side can scan from a distance the brains of soldiers on the other side and learn what they may be planning or whether they are confident or fearful. In a crisply written book, University of Virginia ethicist Moreno notes that military contractors have been researching this possibility, as well as the use of electrodes embedded in soldiers' and pilots' brains to enhance their fighting ability. Moreno (Is There an Ethicist in the House?) details the Pentagon's interest in such matters, including studies of paranormal phenomena like ESP, going back several decades. Readers learn that techniques like hypersonic sound and targeted energetic pulses to disable soldiers are close to being used in the field, and even have everyday applications that make "targeted advertising" an understatement. Despite the book's title, Moreno doesn't limit his discussion to brain-related research; he explains the military's investigation of how to enhance soldiers' endurance and reaction time in combat as well as various nonlethal disabling technologies. The ethical implications are addressed throughout the book, but the author leaves substantive discussion to his praiseworthy last chapter. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Fascinating, clear-headed, optimistic, and lu (Sally Satel 2006-05-30)

"Moreno asks the tough ethical and policy questions that arise from using knowledge about how the human brain functions. . . . Accessibly written. . . . Given the topic''s provocative nature, this is recommended for all science and bioethics collections."-- Library Journal


(James A. Buczynski Library Journal 2006-10-16)

"A fascinating and sometimes unsettling book. . . . Any academic involvement in military research presents an ethical dilemma, and Moreno''s exploration of this theme is one of the most interesting aspects of the book. He is no knee-jerk pacifist: he accepts that military force is sometimes necessary and argues convincingly that contact between military and civilian research is healthier than the alternative of total secrecy. He also acknowledges the ''dual-use'' argument that many DARPA-funded programs have clear civilian pay-offs. Yet by taking military funding, he says, researchers are in some sense accomplices to the perpetuation of what he calls a ''national security state,'' a posture of open-ended militarization supported by a vast budget that in the view of many critics, bears little relation to the actual threats confronting the United States."—Charles Jennings, Nature
(Charles Jennings Nature)

"There has been virtually no debate on the ethical questions raised by the brave new brain technologies. . . . Neuroscientists have been strangely silent. The time to speak up is before the genie is out of the bottle."--Sharon Begley, Wall Street Journal
(Sharon Begley Wall Street Journal 2006-12-15)

"Quietly provocative. . . . Moreno takes an evenhanded, thorough look at how deeply the intelligence and defense communities are involved in many of those advances and the mindfields that might lie ahead. . . . In a thoughtful, easy-to-digest way, Moreno catalogs a long list of projects, some purely speculative, others in the development pipeline."--John Mangels, The Plain Dealer
(John Mangels Cleveland Plain Dealer 2006-11-12)

Interviewed on November 20th "Diane Rehm Show."
(Diane Rhem Diane Rhem Show 2006-11-20)

"Fascinating and frightening. . . . Moreno''s book is important since there has been little discussion about the ethical implications of such research, and the science is at an early enough stage that it might yet be redirected in response to public discussion."--Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
(Hugh Gusterson Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 2007-04-10)

"Moreno offers readers a unique picture of the history of this effort and of the wide range of innovations being developed in behavioral and brain science with the interest and support of US national defense agencies. . . . This research raises serious social and policy questions that require broader public discussion. Accordingly, this book deserves a wide readership. Discussing a complex subject in a clear writing style, Moreno makes his material readily accessible to an audience that will include interested laypeople."--Choice
(R. L. Jones Choice 2007-04-01)

"An exhilarating and anxiety-provoking whirlwind tour of recent developments in neuroscience that possess defense or national security potential. . . . Mind Wars is, of course, much more than a tour of developments in neuroscience. Moreno provides an admirably accessible introduction to philosophy of mind, and he thoughtfully discusses a number of ethical issues raised by the research including dignity and cognitive liberty. . . . [a] groundbreaking text."--American Journal of Bioethics
(Jonathan Marks American Journal of Bioethics 2008-06-01)

“One of the most important thinkers describes the literally-mind-boggling possibilities that modern brain science could present for national security.”--Lawrence J. Korb, Assistance Secretary of Defense 1981-85
(Lawrence J. Korb 2006-04-25)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Dana Press; 1 edition (November 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932594167
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932594164
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,305,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

See Jonathan's website at

Jonathan D. Moreno is one of thirteen Penn Integrates Knowledge university professors at the University of Pennsylvania, holding the David and Lyn Silfen chair. He is also Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, of History and Sociology of Science, and of Philosophy. In 2008-09 he served as a member of President Barack Obama's transition team.

Moreno is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and is a National Associate of the National Research Council. He has served as a senior staff member for three presidential advisory commissions, including the current bioethics commission under President Obama, and has given invited testimony for both houses of congress. He was an Andrew W. Mellon post doctoral fellow, holds an honorary doctorate from Hofstra University, and is a recipient of the Benjamin Rush Medal from the College of William and Mary Law School.

Moreno is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, where he edits the magazine Science Progress ( Moreno has served as adviser to many non-governmental organizations, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is a member of the Governing Board of the International Neuroethics Society, a Faculty Affiliate of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, a Fellow of the Hastings Center and the New York Academy of Medicine, and a past president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. He advises various science, health, and national security agencies and serves as a member of the Defense Intelligence Agency's TIGER committee on potentially disruptive novel technologies.

Kirkus Reviews said that Moreno's new book, The Body Politic: "illuminates intricate threads of history and complex philosophical arguments. Patient general readers, as well as scholars and students of bioethics, will benefit from Moreno's erudition and fairness...." Publisher's Weekly called it "[a]n important analysis of the societal currents swirling around volatile scientific issues . . . Moreno delivers a powerful defense of science [and] respects his readers' intelligence in this nuanced and thoughtful book." JAMA described Progress in Bioethics (2010) as "provocative and stimulating." Publisher's Weekly said that his book Science Next (2009) "brings hope into focus with reports of innovation that will enhance lives." The journal Nature called Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense (2006), "fascinating and sometimes unsettling." The New York Times said that Undue Risk: Secret State Experiments on Humans (1999) was "an earnest and chilling account." His other books include Ethical Guidelines for Innovative Surgery (2006); Is There an Ethicist in the House? (2005); In the Wake of Terror: Medicine and Morality in a Time of Crisis (2003); Ethical and Regulatory Aspects of Clinical Research (2003); Deciding Together: Bioethics and Moral Consensus (1995); Ethics in Clinical Practice (2000); and Arguing Euthanasia (1995). Moreno has published about 300 papers, reviews and book chapters, and is a member of several editorial boards.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Chris Chatham on December 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Basic science has always had military applications, but only relatively recently has the defense industry actively funded and solicited scientists to optimize war. In "Mind Wars," Jonathan Moreno analyzes the military's intense interest in modern neuroscience from historical, scientific, and ethical perspectives.

A famous historical example of military funding basic science is the British intelligence services' employment of thousands of mathematicians - including artificial intelligence pioneer Alan Turing - to decipher the Enigma encryption system during World War II. Both the simultaneous development of the ENIAC computer and the role of Vannevar Bush (another artificial intelligence pioneer) as Roosevelt's science advisor helped to solidified the defense industry's interest in advanced mathematics and computer science.

Far less famous is the long-standing interest of the military in the behavioral sciences, which Jonathan Moreno carefully traces back to its roots in the psychological analyses of American soldiers in the 1950s to improve training and recruiting techniques. Moreno estimates that the military - including KUBARK, the codename for what would come to be known as the CIA - was the real source of nearly all federal funding for 1950's behavioral sciences. More than a third of American research psychologists were funded through such channels (frequently without their knowledge). This startling conclusion is validated by the involvement of several 1950's psychologists in the development of interrogation techniques (involving psychological torture and humiliation) as well as even by contemporary psychology's involvement in the Abu Ghraib scandal (and refusal by the American Psychological Association to critcize such practices).
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Steve M. Potter on March 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book, as long as you think of it as a book for laypeople, to get up to speed on ethical issues revolving around neuroscience research, especially as they relate to US military efforts. It is well written in a fairly conversational tone that keeps the reader interested. I was disappointed that, although it appeared to me at first to be an objective, academic book, it isn't really. I was misled because Moreno is an endowed professor of biomedical ethics, and there are 9 pages of "Sources" and an index. The trouble is that Moreno failed to link many of his points, facts, quotes, and opinions to any of the written sources; there are no citation numbers or other ways (except when he mentions names, which he often doesn't or can't) to trace something he said to the source. Given the highly speculative and controversial nature of the subject matter and how important it is to know where it came from, this would be inexcusable for an academic book. He might get 4.5 stars for his 2nd edition if he fixes this oversight.

Disclaimer: I am a neuroscientist and a pacifist. I wish Moreno had been clear about _his_ position, but we had to guess until p. 136 (out of 184), where he finally admits he finds himself "squarely in the middle" between Fukuyama's ("Our Posthuman Future") dread of all things new and the Futurists' transhumanism. I prefer Ramez Naam's stance, admitting often in his excellent book "More than human" that we ought to embrace, not fear, our ability to change humanity. Moreno's fence-straddling in many ways is a good thing; it allowed him to discuss both sides of a number of arguments rationally and in some detail.
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Format: Hardcover
MIND WARS: BRAIN RESEARCH AND NATIONAL DEFENSE draws some important connections between psychological study and military objective, making it a recommended pick for both military and psychology collections at the college level. Here is a unique presentation of connections between natural security objectives and brain research, documenting ways in which U.S. security forces seek to manipulate the human nervous system to favor warriors and disrupt enemies. From virus-transported molecules called 'neuroweapons' to drugs which repress violent tendencies, neuroscience projects offer deadly potentials influencing not just battlefield applications, but civilians and freedom as well. Any concerned with democracy, warfare or connections between science and politics must read this.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Turtles all the Way Down™ VINE VOICE on August 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
At first glance, most rational people would think that this book was written by a kook for kooks. I mean the title, subtitle and cover art are a bit far out. I was beyond turned off. I avoided this book like the plague while seeking books on neural prosthesis, yet this book kept coming up. I finally went to the library and checked it out and was surprised by the rational content of it. Yes, his style is a bit quirky, but it really is serious and informative and the quirkiness just makes it far from dry.

It is disturbing how much DARPA is mentioned in a topic about medical research , but considering the department of defense received $685 billion in 2010 while NIH only got 31 billion, I guess it really isn't all that shocking. But in all seriousness, how smart does a soldier really have to be? I can understand the Continued Assistance Program to figure how to keep them awake for prolonged periods of time, or even figure ways to tweak their amygdalas and make them fearless., but some of the other implants to turn them into Einsteins is just proof that our priorities are screwed up.

I don't think this book demonstrates a problem in medical ethics, but in political ethics and laziness and indifference amongst the voters.

To prove the content of the book is no joke, below are a couple of articles from a couple of legit sites. At Duke Uni, they have an article about Super Soldiers, and at DARPA, there is an article called remind. Believe it or not, at least to my knowledge, DARPA is fairly open about what they do, as long as you know what you're looking for. Just skimming and going through their stuff you wont find much. But if you research ahead of time, and know what to look for, then you can search for it, otherwise, it's what they choose to put on the front counter so to speak.

It's near thorough but not quite, but considering there are so few books of this type, that's what gives it a 5. We need more books like this.
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