Thursday, July 1, 2010

Killer Neuroscientist Outs Himself in California

Neuroscientist Learns He Has the Genetic Makings of a ‘Born Killer’

Jul 1, 2010
By Debra Cassens Weiss and Dr. J.

A neuroscientist has changed the way he thinks about nature and nurture after a scan of his own brain showed he has the pattern of a psychopath. He also looks like a psychopath. (See police mug shot)

James Fallon offered to turn himself in to authorities if there were any unsolved psychopathic killings in the area where he lives and works. Local and state law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of proximity, said Fallon would have to produce more solid evidence he had committed any murders following the pattern of a psychopathic killer before he could be arrested and charged. "He could confess to dozens of unsolved killings throughout the state but until he can produce one or more bodies and forensic evidence tying him to a crime, we can't touch him," said an unidentified lunatic jail trustee, who recently escaped from a mental health facility by killing a guard and stealing his uniform.

Fallon demanded to be investigated and offered to take a polygraph exam to prove he was lying when questioned by authorities or even his wife. But a local police chief, who asked not to be identified (Chief Lesley Tarbottom) said he could not authorize the expenditure of state funds to administer a polygraph to a non-suspect in a non-existing homocide. Fallon insisted it was a police cover-up and that his constitutional right to be investigated was being violated.

Apparently confused as to how to proceed, a local attorney who was sleeping off a 6 day binge in one of the jail cells was asked for a legal opinion about Fallon's claims. The attorney suggested Fallon be charged with a misdemeanor, arraigned before the local magistrate and released on his own recognizance, pending a hearing to be set on the 10th of Never. The cops then could require Fallon to leave the police station so the cops could return to their ordinary business. Everyone agreed this was a good plan so in 20 minutes Fallon was given the bum's rush out the front door of the station, told not to return, and the door locked behind him.

Fallon studies the biological bases for behavior as a neuroscientist at the University of California-Irvine, National Public Radio reports. He has found that psychopaths have brains with low activity in the orbital cortex, the region of the brain believed to be involved with ethical behavior, moral decision-making and impulse control.

Fallon decided to check out brain patterns of his family members after he learned from his mother at a barbecue that eight of his ancestors had been accused of murder, including Lizzy Borden, the story says. Several family members had already submitted to PET scans for an Alzheimer’s study, so he decided to take a look.

The brains were all normal, with one exception. Fallon’s own brain had an inactive orbital cortex. Then he tested for a gene associated with violence and found that all his family members had the low-aggression version, with one exception. "I have the pattern, the risky pattern," he told NPR. "In a sense, I'm a born killer."

Several hours after the NPR broadcast, the California Department of Public Safety issued a warrant for Fallon's arrest on charges of representing a clear and present danger to society, and for unlawfully carrying a concealed deadly weapon, his brain.

Authorities were attempting to determine whether, under California law, Fallon could be ordered to undergo surgery for the removal of his brain. First a brain donor would have to be located with a compatible brain. A team of top brain surgeons would need to be assembled who would agree to involuntarily excise Dr. Fallon's brain, for further testing and replace it with a donor brain, in violation of their hypocritic oath. It was felt this was not a serious obstacle, however.

While some doctors who were consulted expressed concerns about the involuntary removal of Dr. Fallon's brain, on ethical grounds, others praised public authorities for taking prompt action. "When you know you have a self-professed killer walking around freely, society has a right to protect itself, either by preventive incarceration, the use of tranquilizers, or a three ring circus. (3 ring circus? what the... ?)

A spokesman for the California DPS, who was not authorized to speak, didn't.

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