Monday, April 27, 2009

(251) Drs use CiF to read minds and suss identity

In the summer of 2008 I suffered a severe, public low blood sugar fit or hypoglaecemia attack.
Following some days of observation in hospital I was released and advised to have my head checked out (they had already ascertained that there was no alcohol nor trace of drugs in my blood system) to see if epilepsy or some other disorder might be involved, and so in December 2008 I went to the same nearby hospital for my first ever electoencephelogram.
It was conducted by a woman.
The results showed nothing unusual.
But when I saw a doctor afterwards about them at the Neurological department of the Naval Hospital in Cartagena, she advocated a CAT Scan, just to make absolutely sure all was okay.

This I had at the Hospital Virgen de la Caridad in the last week of January 2009.
The results I was told would be sent to my GP... or at least that was what I, with my imperfect Spanish, understood the hospital personnel who conducted the scan to be saying.
I noted that all of them were women.
But the GP said he never got the results, so about the last week in February I went back to the Neurological dept and made an appointment with a lady official there to see a Dr about my results a few days later, after they had been dug out.
It was around the first week in March, then, that I saw two lady doctors about the CatScan.
They held up shots of the inside of my head - the first time that I had seen such photos - and poured over them, concluding that I had no evidence of any brain disorder and that the fit had been caused by severe low blood sugar; nothing more.

On March 13th 2009 I saw this piece in The Independent -

It prompted me to seek out Hassabis - whom I knew slightly through chess although I had spoken to him little and certainly not in the previous seven years or so. I did not know that he had moved into the field of neuroscience, and I sent him this first communication on Facebook in which I directed him to coincidences concerning the work of Prof. J. Lorber -

H. James Plaskett
13 March at 17:14
Hi. Saw the bit about your work in The Independent. Check out Entry 169 at before you´re so sure we understand how brains work.

Entry 169 is about Prof. Lorber´s work with hydrocephalic people, some of whom were revealed by scans to have almost no brain but unimpaired intelligences.

In January 2009 I realised that some unnecessary and inaccurate comments of mine at The Guardian´s Comment Is Free site were insulting to women in general, more so to women doctors and in particular to onesuch.

There were also wholly uncharacteristic and, for the most part, quite untrue. The profession of medical doctor is one I have always held in high regard.
And my words would also have read as appearing to let something slip, yet even that version of events was also false.
I got the comments removed.

On March 21st 2009 the particular lady made it clear that she was very offended by something. I assumed it to be probably those comments, although I was not 100% sure.
On the morning of March 22nd I was composing an explanatory and apologetic e mail to her when I paused and glanced at my In box.

It contained this reply from Demis -

No Brainer
Demis Hassabis and You

Demis Hassabis
22 March at 04:49
Hi James
Another funny (although minor) coincidence for your collection! A few weeks ago whilst browsing some controversial article on the guardian online I noticed some comments by you. I figured you must have been THE Plaskett and then found your blog. Quite interesting (one of my favourite Police songs is synchronicity and i didnt realise what it was about till now), although I think a lot of 'coincidences' are actually just quirks of the way our attentional system works.

Anyway, so a few weeks later, here you are contacting me. Dont worry, I'm fully aware that we are a long way off understanding how the mind works in any detail. However, for the first time ever I think we may have a truly useful tool now in the shape of neuroimaging to probe these types of questions (that's why i only recently got into neuroscience) and for example would trivially be able to confirm cases of hydroencephalitis.
Best wishes

I noted the unusual time at which the message had been sent.

"No Brainer" was indeed the heading given by Richard Milton (whom I met for the first time and with whom I dined in London on March 19th 2009) to his piece on Prof. Lorber´s discoveries at his, sadly, suspended website, .
It was also how I had headed my e mail.

I noted the image Demis put alongside his Facebook identity: a photograph of a scan of a head with the brain clearly visible inside.

That I should open just this e mail, in which he refers to having been drawn to my web diary of coincidences via comments of mine at the Guardian´s Comment is Free website, as I was composing my conciliatory e mail to the Dr confirmed to me that it was indeed such comments that had got up her nose.

In the Independent piece of March 13th 2009 he is styled "Dr Hassabis".

On March 23rd I noticed this Guardian Blog -
Here was Demis himself fetching up, for the first time, at The Guardian site, the next day.
I left the first comment.
The podcast mentions that Demis had had his viva the day before.
Checking this with him it transpired that the Podcast was recorded on March 20th, so he was not a Dr when The Independent piece appeared but had actually qualified on March 19th - the day I dined with Milton.