Mapping Intelligence in the Brain

A new study found that specific structures, primarily on the left side of the brain, are vital to general intelligence and executive function (the ability to regulate and control behavior). Brain regions that are associated with general intelligence and executive function are shown in color, with red indicating common areas, orange indicating regions specific to … Continue reading

Received wisdom

Average IQ is falling in Britain and beyond, explains Philip Hunter PHILIP HUNTER Back when Britain was brainy: applicants for the Mensa exam gather at the Russell Hotel in 1961 Intelligence quotients (IQs) have risen in developed nations for almost a century. This phenomenon, named the “Flynn effect” after the New Zealand intelligence researcher James … Continue reading

Beloved Smartphones

It’s totally rational to worry that your phone is tracking everything you do. Farhad Manjoo If you’ve set up a new mobile phone recently, you were likely prompted with an innocent-sounding request for your “usage information.” The phone probably assured you that it would collect your data “anonymously,” and that it would send the information … Continue reading

Translation algorithms used to crack centuries-old secret code

Mark Brown Computer scientists from Sweden and the United States have applied modern-day, statistical translation techniques—the sort that are used in Google Translate—to decode a 250-year old secret message. The original document, nicknamed the Copiale Cipher, was written in the late 18th century and found in the East Berlin Academy after the Cold War. It’s … Continue reading

Can You Increase Your IQ?

Stay in school (or just play some memory games). Brian Palmer A new study suggests that a person’s intelligence quotient can change during his or her teenage years, and those fluctuations are related to physical changes in the structure of the brain. Scientists have been arguing for years over whether a person’s IQ is fixed. … Continue reading

Impressed by FBI trojan, Germans write their own—and national scandal ensues

Matthew Lasar It has been pretty chaotic in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet ever since the Chaos Computer Club dumped some alarming technology news in her lap. Turns out that the German government’s "lawful interception" application, supposedly designed only to monitor IP telephone calls, is just a little more powerful than the police let on. … Continue reading

Pakistan Is the Enemy

We know that Pakistan’s intelligence service is aiding terrorists. What are we going to do about it? Christopher Hitchens Adm. Mike Mullen testifies before the Senate armed services committee on Pakistan In Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Lt. Milo Minderbinder transforms the mess accounts of the American airbase under his care into a "syndicate" under whose terms … Continue reading

‘Mainstream’ Muslims Are ‘Violent, Radical’

Spencer Ackerman The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding mechanism for combat.” At the Bureau’s training ground in Quantico, Virginia, agents … Continue reading

Why is Average IQ Higher in Some Places?

A surprising theory about global variations in intelligence Christopher Eppig  Disease puts pressure on the brain Image: iStock/Nathan Watkins Being smart is the most expensive thing we do. Not in terms of money, but in a currency that is vital to all living things: energy. One study found that newborn humans spend close to 90 … Continue reading

RCMP spied on noted literary scholar Northrop Frye

Northrop Frye is shown in an undated photo. (Bill Becker / THE CANADIAN PRESS) The Canadian Press OTTAWA — Canada’s intelligence service spied on renowned literary scholar Northrop Frye, closely eyeing his involvement in the anti-Vietnam War movement, an academic forum on China and efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. Newly released archival records … Continue reading

Spies can send messages hidden in a Google search

Paul Marks THE peculiar list of search options that Google suggests as you type in a query could be hijacked to let people communicate secretly. So says Wojciech Mazurczyk at the Warsaw University of Technology in Poland, who specialises in steganography – the art of hiding messages in plain sight. Mazurczyk and his team dream … Continue reading

The Limits of Intelligence

The laws of physics may well prevent the human brain from evolving into an ever more powerful thinking machine By Douglas Fox Image: Photograph by Adam Voorhes In Brief Human intelligence may be close to its evolutionary limit. Various lines of research suggest that most of the tweaks that could make us smarter would hit … Continue reading

Rise of the Irregulars

The U.S. isn’t militarizing intelligence, it’s civilianizing the military. BY ROBERT HADDICK Need to fight a war? Recruit a civilian, not a soldier Last week, the Washington Post‘s David Ignatius discussed how the line between the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert intelligence activities and the Pentagon’s military operations began blurring as George W. Bush’s administration ramped … Continue reading

NSA Declassifies 200-Year-Old Book

Noah Shachtman A cryptology instruction book… 202 years old. A photograph of the U.S. Army’s cypher bureau… from 1919. A breakdown of Russian electoral districts… circa 1948. Schematics for a magnetic tape memory system… nearly half a century old. These are just some of the items that, had you seen them, would have irreparably damaged … Continue reading

Spooks Get New Workout Routine … for Their Minds

Lena Groeger The Caveman Ughlympics, the Cat-olympics, the E’lympics — seems like everyone has caught five-ring fever. Even the U.S. intelligence community. To prepare, it’s gotten a new workout routine from a very unlikely source — social science. To bring home the gold in the “Analytical Olympics,” intelligence analysts will have to embark on training … Continue reading

Darpa Plots Manhunt Master Controller

Adam Rawnsley Thought military tracking technology couldn’t get any creepier? Hold onto your tinfoil hats and hide behind the nearest curtain because the next generation of manhunting gear just took another step closer to reality. The Pentagon’s bleeding-edge research shop, Darpa, announced this week that it awarded a $14 million contract to defense contractor SAIC … Continue reading

Manhunt Inc.: Firm ‘Tags’ Terrorists for Special Ops

Noah Shachtman When trading ended Tuesday night at the New York Stock Exchange, the closing bell wasn’t rung by a titan of finance or an imported celebrity. It was sounded by the CEO of an obscure defense firm with deep ties to the U.S. intelligence and special operations communities. The traders on the floor may … Continue reading

Little-Known Geospatial Agency Played Vital Role

In Raid on bin Laden The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency provided key data and intelligence for tracking down the terrorist leader. Marc Ambinder National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency produced this 2005 aerial image of bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The NGA integrates several core intelligence functions. It makes maps and interprets imagery from … Continue reading

Sharing Information Corrupts Wisdom of Crowds

Brandon Keim When people can learn what others think, the wisdom of crowds may veer towards ignorance. In a new study of crowd wisdom — the statistical phenomenon by which individual biases cancel each other out, distilling hundreds or thousands of individual guesses into uncannily accurate average answers — researchers told test participants about their … Continue reading

Inaccurate IQs could be a matter of life and death

by Jessica Griggs Some people in the US may have been wrongly executed because of inaccuracies in the IQ tests used to assess them. But the inaccuracies may also have seen some escape execution if they scored lower on the tests than their real IQ. Simon Whitaker, a psychologist at the University of Huddersfield, UK, … Continue reading

Trail to Bin Laden began with CIA detainee, officials say

An Al Qaeda suspect who was under harsh interrogation at a secret prison provided the nom de guerre of a courier. When two key prisoners lied about the courier, the CIA knew it was onto something. Al Qaeda operations chief Abu Faraj Libbi, above, and his predecessor both lied about a mysterious courier for Osama … Continue reading

Want to increase your IQ?

Get motivated By Kate Shaw For years, debate has raged about the validity of IQ tests. Critics claim that these tests are subject to all sorts of biases, but research shows that IQ results are good predictors of several aspects of life, including educational achievement, success in the workplace, and even longevity. These correlations suggest … Continue reading

Scientists Discover How to Predict Learning Using Brain Analysis

An international team of scientists has developed a way to predict how much a person can learn, based on studies at UC Santa Barbara’s Brain Imaging Center. A study published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) details the findings. Researchers collected brain imaging data from people performing a motor task, … Continue reading

The Unleashed Mind

Why Creative People Are Eccentric? Highly creative people often seem weirder than the rest of us. Now researchers know why By Shelley Carson  People who score high for creative achievement in the arts are more likely to believe in telepathic communication, dreams that foretell the future, and past lives. Image: GETTY IMAGES In Brief People … Continue reading

Anonymous goes after Sony, makes it personal… very personal

By Nate Anderson The hacker collective Anonymous has attacked Sony websites all week, taking them down intermittently in retaliation for Sony’s federal lawsuit against PlayStation 3 hacker George Hotz ("GeoHot"). But in recent days, "Operation Sony" morphed from a standard website attack into something a bit more personal, as some Anons formed a separate "Sony … Continue reading

Is a 12-Year-Old Smarter Than Einstein?

Don’t Be Stupid. By Tom Scocca Time magazine did a light rewrite this week of a feature the Indianapolis Star had run about a 12-year-old boy named Jacob Barnett, who has a form of autism and who is unusually good at math and physics, and now the Los Angeles Times blogged about it, this kid … Continue reading

‘Paranoia Meter’

HBGary’s Plot to Find the Pentagon’s Next WikiLeaker By Spencer Ackerman Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that HBGary won’t create a rootkit to record your keystrokes, read your email, and track where you move your mouse. Most (in)famous for proposing a wide-ranging plan to discredit the defenders of WikiLeaks, the security company HBGary Federal … Continue reading


Julian Assange said WikiLeaks would change the world. At the very least, it changed these people’s lives forever. BY CHARLES HOMANS Over the weekend, Carlos Pascual (above) stepped down from his post as U.S. ambassador to Mexico over an unsparing January 2010 cable about Mexico’s flailing drug war, and Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s handling of … Continue reading

Bradley Manning Charged

With 22 New Counts, Including Capital Offense By Kim Zetter Updated 8:00 p.m. EST. The Army has filed 22 new counts against suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, among them a capital offense for which the government said it would not seek the death penalty. The charges, filed Tuesday but not disclosed until Wednesday, are one … Continue reading

If I Ruled the world: Richard Dawkins

Human intelligence is undervalued these days. We must do away with rulebooks and start trusting our own judgement Richard Dawkins How often do we petulantly mutter something equivalent to: “If I ruled the world, I’d…” Yet when an editor offers you the same self-indulgence out of the blue, the mind goes blank. Frivolous answers are … Continue reading

The CIA’s Historic Spy Kit

By Kim Zetter Whenever James Bond needed a nifty device to snap a surreptitious surveillance picture or escape the gilded clutches of Auric Goldfinger, he could count on the ingenious minds in the Secret Service’s Q Division to devise a solution. Real-world Bonds working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and its precursor the Office … Continue reading

How Aaron Barr revealed himself to Anonymous

By Nate Anderson Stian Elkeland Aaron Barr, CEO of security company HBGary Federal, spent the month of January trying to uncover the real identifies of the hacker collective Anonymous—only to end with his company website knocked offline, his e-mails stolen, 1TB of backups deleted, and his personal iPad wiped when Anonymous found out. Our lengthy … Continue reading

Should U.S. intelligence be paying more attention to Twitter?

By Joshua Keating Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the U.S. missed what was coming in Egypt because intelligence services were not paying enough attention to what was happening on the Internets:  "There was a good deal of intelligence about Tunisia [but] virtually nothing about Egypt," Feinstein said in an interview … Continue reading

Are the WikiLeaks Actually An American Plot?

Jacob Heilbrunn  The Obama administration is busily denouncing the WikiLeaks. Spilling secrets is a bad thing, we’re told, for American national security. Relations with friendly leaders will be jeopardized. And so on. But is it true? Or are the leaks, in fact, part of a carefully orchestrated plot by the American government? Think about it … Continue reading

Army Was Warned Not to Deploy Bradley Manning to Iraq

By Kim Zetter Army commanders were warned against sending to Iraq an Army private who is suspected of leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks. Pfc. Bradley Manning’s supervisor at Ft. Drum in New York had told his superiors that Manning had discipline problems and had thrown chairs at colleagues … Continue reading

The stupid rich and poor smart do exist

by Razib Khan  WORDSUM is a variable in the General Social Survey. It is a 10 word vocabulary test. A score of 10 is perfect. A score of 0 means you didn’t know any of the vocabulary words. WORDSUM has a correlation of 0.71 with general intelligence. In other words, 50% of the variation of … Continue reading

WikiLeaks given Swiss bank account data

By Peter Bright WikiLeaks has taken possession of discs containing the banking details of 2,000 prominent people with Swiss bank accounts. The discs were presented to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today in London by former Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer. The data will be published by WikiLeaks once it has been vetted, a process expected by … Continue reading

Justice for a Spy

It’s time for Obama to grant Jonathan Pollard clemency for his crimes. BY LAWRENCE KORB On Jan. 4, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood in front of the Knesset to read a letter that he had sent to the president of the United States, calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard. The Israeli leader admitted … Continue reading

Twitter and the Feds

By Charles Homans Late Friday, the U.S. Justice Department issued a court order for the Twitter account records of Birgitta Jonsdottir (above), a member of Iceland’s Parliament and early friend of WikiLeaks. At first blush, this would seem to suggest that the Feds’ efforts to build a case against Assange, who was in court in … Continue reading

WikiLeaks Reveals International Intrigue Over Science and Environment

By Brandon Keim  While most of the attention around WikiLeaks’ diplomatic cable release involved high-profile geopolitical intrigue, some of the documents involved science and the environment. Above: Sea Shepherd Whale Deal The latest of these, reported Jan. 6 by the Guardian newspaper, involve discussions in late 2009 and early 2010 between the United States and … Continue reading

Lawyer fears Assange could face death penalty in US

By Kim Zetter,  Julian Assange, center, speaks to the media flanked by his lawyers Mark Stephens, left, and Jennifer Robinson after making a appearance at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in London, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011. AP/Matt Dunham A defense attorney for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claims his client could face the death penalty if he’s … Continue reading

WikiLeaks, the Economy, US Midterm Elections, Climate Change, Haiti, and More…

World-renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky talks about the release of more than 250,000 secret U.S. State Department cables by WikiLeaks. In 1971, Chomsky helped government whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg release the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret internal U.S. account of the Vietnam War. Commenting on the revelations that several Arab leaders are urging the United … Continue reading

Few American friends for Wikileaks

Academic Noam Chomsky and activist John Perry Barlow are among the few public supporters of Julian Assange in the USA. By Simon Leo Brown  The debate in Australia over Wikileaks has largely been in support of Julian Assange, with an open letter to the Prime Minister in his support signed by dozens of high profile … Continue reading

Price for Jonathan Pollard’s Release Should be a Done Deal on Palestine

Steve Clemons Jonathan Pollard was paid for his espionage by a foreign government. Whether that government was the Soviet Union, China, Great Britain, or as it turned out — Israel — Pollard was a compensated enemy of the US national interest and convicted. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has just signed on to a letter … Continue reading

Dilma’s Secrets

In digging for dirt on Brazil’s new president, a group of journalists and scholars may have come uncomfortably close to a more serious truth about a whole country. BY TAYLOR BARNES RIO DE JANEIRO—It’s part of the deal when someone who was once a member of a guerrilla rebel group runs for president at the … Continue reading

Mr. President: Do Not Free Jonathan Pollard

Martin Peretz In the first instance and despite the brazen insinuations of his supporters, Jonathan Pollard is not a Jewish martyr. He is a convicted espionage agent who spied on his country for both Israel and Pakistan (!)—a spy, moreover, who got paid for his work. His professional career, then, reeks of infamy and is … Continue reading

Assange as a Traitor: A Brief History of the Imperial Mindset

By Michael McGehee How is it that Julian Assange, an Australian, can be called a traitor by the United States government for the publishing of leaked documents? Technically he can’t be but when the imperial mindset is so deeply entrenched in our policy makers and their apologists then it’s taken for granted that the United … Continue reading

Group IQ

What makes one team of people smarter than another? A new field of research finds surprising answers. By Carolyn Y. Johnson  For a century, people have been devising tests that aim to capture a person’s mental abilities in a score, whether it is an IQ test or the SAT. In just an hour or an … Continue reading

Leak Fatigue

Paul J. Saunders  Although the novelty of the WikiLeaks debacle is beginning to wear off, and the American media is predictably getting tired of reading the state department’s mostly routine classified correspondence, the impact of this disastrous security breach seems likely to be with us for far longer than most seem to realize. And while … Continue reading

Congress Hears WikiLeaks Is ‘Fundamentally Different’ From Media

By Kim Zetter The Justice Department would have no problem distinguishing WikiLeaks from traditional media outlets, if it decides to charge WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with violating the Espionage Act, a former federal prosecutor told lawmakers Thursday. “By clearly showing how WikiLeaks is fundamentally different, the government should be able to demonstrate that any prosecution … Continue reading