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Why Torture Doesn't Work
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About the Author

Shane O'Mara is Professor of Experimental Brain Research at Trinity College, Dublin, and Director of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience.

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Why Torture Doesn't Work is a valuable book. O'Mara builds his case like a prosecutor, citing scientific studies and relentlessly poking holes in absurdities and inconsistencies in documents such as the 'Torture Memos.' Whether science matters to those who defend torture is another matter, as O'Mara knows: their motivation is often punitive, not practical. But once torture is imposed, the consequences, he says, are that it will be 'ineffective, pointless, morally appalling, and unpredictable in its outcomes.'-- (11/11/2015)

A powerful, convincing and thought-provoking volume. O'Mara presents us with the overwhelming scientific evidence that torture simply does not work. What is more, it damages memory and is highly likely to produce flawed intelligence. Claims of the utility of torture are no more than 'cargo cult science.'...The significance of this book is difficult to overstate. Its conveyance of moral outrage as regards the practice of torture is unqualified and it delivers the evidence to repudiate all utilitarian justifications of the practice. It offers science-based pointers to manners of conducting interrogation that are both more effective and compliant with human rights standards. Furthermore, given
the questions surrounding the utility of all statement-related evidence, it supports the long-standing calls for more focus on such other evidentiary sources as forensics and surveillance. It has a great deal to say to contemporary policy-makers and for police and intelligence services, not least at a moment of enhanced attention to counter-terrorism. The book demonstrates the importance of science in the pursuit of human rights...O'Mara deserves some sort of prize for this work.

-- (11/28/2015)
Does torture actually work? To be sure, it can compel people to confess to crimes and to repudiate their religious and political beliefs. But there is a world of difference between compelling someone to speak and compelling them to tell the truth... Yet the assumption underlying the ticking time bomb defense is that abusive questioning reliably causes people to reveal truthful information that they would otherwise refuse to disclose. Few scholars have scrutinized this assumption--and none with the rigor, depth, and clarity of Shane O'Mara in his excellent book, Why Torture Doesn't Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation... Invoking the relevant science, he shows that torture undermines the very neurocognitive mechanisms requisite for recalling veridical information from memory.-- (10/16/2015)
Fascinating...Why Torture Doesn't Work is the empirical case against torture, a reading of scientific research which concludes that torture is a poor method of extracting information, and that the people who argued for it and used it had no idea what they were doing...The message of science, according to O'Mara, is unambiguous: torture makes it harder to obtain useful information, not easier...O'Mara deserves a lot of praise for writing a convincing and moral book.--Greg Waldmann"Open Letters Monthly" (02/03/2016)

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