Friday, April 13, 2018

Science explains why teens can easily be used as political weapons. Teen brains lack rational ability of adults which isn't achieved until age 25 (URMC). Supreme Court agrees, Graham v Florida, 2010: 17 year old mind not able to make adult decisions so needs more lenient sentence than adult would for same crime-Graham v Florida, May 2010


Spring 2012, "Should the Science of Adolescent Brain Development Inform Public Policy?", by
May 17, 2010, US Supreme Court, Graham v Florida,

US Supreme Court found that 17 year old minds don't have judgment abilities of adult minds so can't be sentenced to life without parole as an adult might for the same crime:
Justice Kennedy for the majority: "The juvenile should not be deprived of the opportunity to achieve maturity of judgment and self-recognition of human worth and potential."

Added: Brain not fully rational until age 25 or so:

"Understanding the Teen Brain," University of Rochester Medical Center, Sather, Rita, RN, Shelat, Amit, MD 

"It doesn’t matter how smart teens are or how well they scored on the SAT or ACT. Good judgment isn’t something they can excel in, at least not yet.

The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so.  

In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.

In teen’s brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not necessarily at the same rate. That’s why when teens experience overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling." 
5/17/2010, "Supreme Court decides juvenile life terms are unconstitutional for some," Florida Times-Union, Paul Pinkham 
"Graham was sentenced to probation for armed burglary in 2003 after he and two accomplices tried to rob a Philips Highway restaurant using a pipe. Though they failed, an accomplice struck the manager in the head before they left, Gowdy said. 
The Department of Corrections had asked for four years in prison, and prosecutors sought 30. But [Circuit Court Judge] Day determined Graham was a danger to the community, squandered an opportunity to turn his life around and nothing could deter him from future crimes."
Graham v Florida, May 17, 2010,  
"In a second subset, cases turning on the offender’s characteristics, the Court has prohibited death for defendants who committed their crimes before age 18, Roper v. Simmons, 543 U. S. 551, or whose intellectual functioning is in a low range, Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U. S. 304."

Teen brains lack chemical connections of adult brains-NPR

3/1/2010, "The Teen Brain: It's Just Not Grown Up Yet,", Richard Knox

"Nature made the brains of children and adolescents excitable. Their brain chemistry is tuned to be responsive to everything in their environment. After all, that's what makes kids learn so easily.... 

[Frances] Jensen [pediatric neurologist at Children's Hospital in Boston] says scientists used to think human brain development was pretty complete by age 10. Or as she puts it, that "a teenage brain is just an adult brain with fewer miles on it."

But it's not. To begin with, she says, a crucial part of the brain — the frontal lobes — are not fully connected....

"It's the part of the brain that says: 'Is this a good idea? What is the consequence of this action?'" Jensen says. "It's not that they don't have a frontal lobe. And they can use it. But they're going to access it more slowly." 

That's because the nerve cells that connect teenagers' frontal lobes with the rest of their brains are sluggish. Teenagers don't have as much of the fatty coating called myelin, or "white matter," that adults have in this area. 
Think of it as insulation on an electrical wire. Nerves need myelin for nerve signals to flow freely. Spotty or thin myelin leads to inefficient communication between one part of the brain and another."...(graph above via npr)


Teen brain science and the law: "Heightened sensitivity to anticipated rewards motivates adolescents to engage in acts, even risky acts, when the potential for pleasure is high....It's’ no surprise that the commission of crime peaks around age 17."

Spring 2012, "Should the Science of Adolescent Brain Development Inform Public Policy?", by

"Science in the policy arena" (subhead) 

"Society hardly needs neuroscience to tell it that, relative to adults, adolescents are more likely to engage in sensation seeking, less likely to control their impulses, or less likely to plan ahead."...

"Brain changes" (subhead)...

"Adolescence is not just a time of tremendous change in the brain’s structure. It is also a time of important changes in how the brain works, as revealed in studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI. What do these imaging studies reveal about the adolescent brain? First, over the course of adolescence and into early adulthood, there is a strengthening of activity in brain systems involving self-regulation. During tasks that require self-control, adults employ a wider network of brain regions than do adolescents, and this trait may make self-control easier, by distributing the work across multiple areas of the brain rather than overtaxing a smaller number of regions.

Second, there are important changes in the way the brain responds to rewards. When one examines a brain scan acquired during a task in which individuals who are about to play a game are shown rewarding stimuli, such as piles of coins or pictures of happy faces, it is usually the case that adolescents’ reward centers are activated more than occurs in children or adults. (Interestingly, these age differences are more consistently observed when individuals are anticipating rewards than when they are receiving them.) 

Heightened sensitivity to anticipated rewards motivates adolescents to engage in acts, even risky acts, when the potential for pleasure is high, such as with unprotected sex, fast driving, or experimentation with drugs. In our laboratory, Jason Chein and I have shown that this hypersensitivity to reward is particularly pronounced when adolescents are with their friends, and we think this helps explain why adolescent risk-taking so often occurs in groups.

A third change in brain function over the course of adolescence involves increases in the simultaneous involvement of multiple brain regions in response to arousing stimuli, such as pictures of angry or terrified faces. Before adulthood, there is less cross-talk between the brain systems that regulate rational decisionmaking and those that regulate emotional arousal.

During adolescence, very strong feelings are less likely to be modulated by the involvement of brain regions involved in controlling impulses, planning ahead, and comparing the costs and benefits of alternative courses of action. This is one reason why susceptibility to peer pressure declines as adolescents grow into adulthood; as they mature, individuals become better able to put the brakes on an impulse that is aroused by their friends." 

"Importance of timing" (subhead) 

"These structural and functional changes do not all take place along one uniform timetable, and the differences in their timing raise two important points relevant to the use of neuroscience to guide public policy. First, there is no simple answer to the question of when an adolescent brain becomes an adult brain. Brain systems implicated in basic cognitive processes reach adult levels of maturity by mid-adolescence, whereas those that are active in self-regulation do not fully mature until late adolescence or even early adulthood. In other words, adolescents mature intellectually before they mature socially or emotionally, a fact that helps explain why teenagers who are so smart in some respects sometimes do surprisingly dumb things.

To the extent that society wishes to use developmental neuroscience to inform public policy decisions on where to draw age boundaries between adolescence and adulthood, it is therefore important to match the policy question with the right science....

There is another kind of asynchrony in brain development during adolescence that is important for public policy. Middle adolescence is a period during which brain systems implicated in how a person responds to rewards are at their height of arousability but systems important for self-regulation are still immature. 

The different timetables followed by these different brain systems create a vulnerability to risky and reckless behavior that is greater in middle adolescence than before or after. It’s as if the brain’s accelerator is pressed to the floor before a good braking system is in place. Given this, it’s no surprise that the commission of crime peaks around age 17--as does first experimentation with alcohol and marijuana, automobile crashes, accidental drownings, and attempted suicide.

In sum, the consensus to emerge from recent research on the adolescent brain is that teenagers are not as mature in either brain structure or function as adults....The fact that the adolescent brain is still developing, and in this regard is less mature than the adult brain, is normative, not pathological. Adolescence is a developmental stage, not a disease, mental illness, or defect. But it is a time when people are, on average, not as mature as they will be when they become adults.

I am frequently asked how to reconcile this view of adolescence with historical evidence that adolescents successfully performed adult roles in previous eras. This may be true, but all societies in recorded history have recognized a period of development between childhood and adulthood, and writers as far back as Aristotle have characterized adolescents as less able to control themselves and more prone to risk-taking than adults. As Shakespeare wrote in The Winter’s Tale: “I would there were no age between ten and threeand-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting.” That was in 1623, without the benefit of brain scans. 

"Science in the policy arena" (subhead) 

Although there is a good degree of consensus among neuroscientists about many of the ways in which brain structure and function change during adolescence, it is less clear just how informative this work is about adolescent behavior for public policy. Because all behavior must have neurobiological underpinnings, it is hardly revelatory to say that adolescents behave the way they do because of “something in their brain.”
Moreover, society hardly needs neuroscience to tell it that, relative to adults, adolescents are more likely to engage in sensation seeking, less likely to control their impulses, or less likely to plan ahead. So how does neuroscience add to society’s understanding of adolescent behavior? What is the value, other than advances in basic neuroscience, of studies that provide neurobiological evidence that is consistent with what is already known about human behavior?...

"Brain science should inform the nation’s policy discussions when it is relevant, but society should not make policy decisions on the basis of brain science alone." (inset) 

"How science can help" (subhead)...

"In our studies, we have shown that reward sensitivity, preference for immediate rewards, sensation-seeking, and a greater focus on the rewards of a risky choice all increase between pre-adolescence and mid-adolescence, peak between ages 15 and 17, and then decline. In contrast, controlling impulses, planning ahead, and resisting peer influence all increase gradually from pre-adolescence through late adolescence, and in some instances, into early adulthood.

Although one can show without the benefit of neuroscience that the inclination to take risks is generally higher in adolescence than before or after, having knowledge about the course of brain development provides insight into the underlying processes that might account for this pattern. We’ve shown in several experiments that adolescents take more risks when they are with their friends than when they are alone. But is this because the presence of peers interferes with self-control or because it affects the way in which adolescents experience the rewards of the risky decision? It isn’t possible to answer this question by asking teenagers why they take more risks when their friends are around; they admit that they do, but they say they don’t know why. But through neuroimaging, we discovered that the peer effect was specifically due to the impact that peers have on adolescents’ reward sensitivity.

Why does this matter? Because if the chief reason that adolescents experiment with tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs is that they are at a point in life where everything rewarding feels especially so, trying to teach them to “Just Say No” is probably futile. I’ve argued elsewhere that raising the price of cigarettes and alcohol, thereby making these rewarding substances harder to obtain, is probably a more effective public policy than health education.... 

I recently was asked to provide an expert opinion in a Michigan case involving a prison convict named Anthony, who as a 17-year-old was part of a group of teenagers who robbed a small store. During the robbery, one of the teenagers shot and killed the storekeeper. Although the teenagers had planned the robbery, they did not engage in the act with the intention of shooting, much less murdering, someone. But under the state’s criminal law, the crime qualified as felony murder, which in Michigan carries a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole for all members of the group involved in the robbery—including Anthony, who had fled the store before the shooting took place.

At issue now is a challenge by Anthony—who has been in prison for 33 years—to vacate the sentence in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Graham v. Florida that life without parole is cruel and unusual punishment for juveniles because they are less mature than adults. The ruling in that case was limited to crimes other than homicide, however. The challenge to Michigan’s law is based on the argument that the logic behind the Graham decision applies to felony murder as well. 

I was asked specifically whether a 17-year-old could have anticipated that someone might be killed during the robbery. It is quite clear from the trial transcript that Anthony didn’t anticipate this consequence, but didn’t is not the same as couldn’t. It is known from behavioral research that the average 17-year-old is less likely than the average adult to think ahead, control his impulses, and foresee the consequences of his actions; and clinical evaluations of Anthony revealed that he was a normal 17-year-old. But “less likely” means just that; it doesn’t mean unable, but neither does it mean unwilling. As I will explain, the distinction between didn’t and couldn’t is important under the law. 

And studies of adolescent brain development might be helpful in distinguishing between the two. 

The issue before the Michigan Court is not whether Anthony is guilty. He freely admitted having participated in the robbery, and there was clear evidence that the victim was shot and killed by one of the robbers. So there is no doubt that Anthony is guilty of felony murder. But even when someone is found guilty, many factors can influence the sentence he receives. Individuals who are deemed less than fully responsible are punished less severely than those who are judged to be fully responsible, even if the consequences of the act are identical. Manslaughter is not punished as harshly as premeditated murder, even though both result in the death of another individual. So the question in Anthony’s case, as it was in the Roper and Graham Supreme Court cases, is whether 17-year-olds are fully responsible for their behavior. If they are not, they should not be punished as severely as individuals whose responsibility is not diminished.... 

As I have discussed, studies of adolescent brain anatomy clearly indicate that regions of the brain that regulate such things as foresight, impulse control, and resistance to peer pressure are still developing at age 17. And imaging studies show that immaturity in these regions is linked to adolescents’ poorer performance on tasks that require these capabilities. Evidence that the adolescent brain is less mature than the adult brain in ways that affect some of the behaviors that mitigate criminal responsibility suggests that at least some of adolescents’ irresponsible behavior is not entirely their fault.

The brain science, in and of itself, does not carry the day, but when the results of behavioral science are added to the mix, I think it tips the balance toward viewing adolescent impulsivity, short-sightedness, and susceptibility to peer pressure as developmentally normative phenomena that teenagers cannot fully control. This is why I have argued that adolescents should be viewed as inherently less responsible than adults, and should be punished less harshly than adults, even when the crimes they are convicted of are identical. I do not find persuasive the counterargument that some adolescents can exercise self-control or that some adults are just as impulsive and short-sighted as teenagers. Of course there is variability in brain and behavior among adolescents, and of course there is variability among adults. But the average differences between the age groups are significant, and that is what counts as society draws age boundaries under the law on the basis of science. 

Age ranges for responsibility 

Beyond criminal law, how should social policy involving young people take this into account? Society needs to distinguish between people who are ready for the rights and responsibilities of adulthood and those who are not. Science can help in deciding where best to draw the lines. Based on what is now known about brain development—and I say “now known” because new studies are appearing every month—it is reasonable to posit that there is an age range during which adult neurobiological maturity is reached....

How is it possible to rationalize permitting teenagers to drive before they are permitted to see R-rated movies on their own, sentencing juveniles to life without parole before they are old enough to serve on a jury, or sending young people into combat before they can buy beer? The answer is that policies that distinguish between adolescents and adults are made for all sorts of reasons, and science, including neuroscience, is only one of many proper considerations....

In our book Rethinking Juvenile Justice, Elizabeth Scott and I have argued that this is how the nation should structure the justice system, treating adolescent offenders as an intermediate category, neither as children, whose crimes society excuses, nor as adults, whom society holds fully responsible for their acts. I’ve heard the suggestion that society should apply this model to drinking as well, and permit individuals between 18 and 20 to purchase beer and wine, but not hard liquor, and to face especially stiff punishment for intoxication or wrongdoing under the influence of alcohol. There are some areas of the law, though, where a three-way system would be difficult to imagine, such as voting.... 

Accepting the challenges 

The study of adolescent brain development has made tremendous progress in the very short period that scientists have been studying the adolescent brain systematically. As the science moves ahead, the big challenge facing those of us who want to apply this research to policy will be understanding the complicated interplay of biological maturation and environmental influence as they jointly shape adolescent behavior. And this can be achieved only through collaboration between neuroscientists and scholars from other disciplines. Brain science should inform the nation’s policy discussions when it is relevant, but society should not make policy decisions on the basis of brain science alone. 

Whether the revelation that the adolescent brain may be less mature than scientists had previously thought is ultimately a good thing, a bad thing, or a mixed blessing for young people remains to be seen. Some policymakers will use this evidence to argue in favor of restricting adolescents’ rights, and others will use it to advocate for policies that protect adolescents from harm. In either case, scientists should welcome the opportunity to inform policy discussions with the best available empirical evidence." 

"Recommended reading 

B. J. Casey, R. Jones, and L. Somerville, “Braking and Accelerating of the Adolescent Brain,” Journal of Research on Adolescence 21 (2011): 21–33.

R. Dahl, “Adolescent Brain Development: A Period of Vulnerabilities and Opportunities,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1021 (2004): 1–22.

O. Jones, J. Buckholtz, J. Schall, and R. Marois, “Brain Imaging for Legal Thinkers: A Guide for the Perplexed,” Stanford Technology Law Review 5 (2009).

T. Maroney, “The False Promise of Adolescent Brain Science in Juvenile Justice,” Notre Dame Law Review 85 (2009): 89–175.

S. Morse, “Avoiding Irrational Neurolaw Exuberance: A Plea for Neuromodesty,” Mercer Law Review 62 (2011): 837–859.

E. Scott and L. Steinberg, Rethinking Juvenile Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008).

L. Spear, The Behavioral Neuroscience of Adolescence (New York: Norton, 2009).

L. Steinberg, “A Social Neuroscience Perspective on Adolescent Risk-Taking,” Developmental Review 28 (2008): 78–106.

L. Steinberg, E. Cauffman, J. Woolard, S. Graham, and M. Banich, “Are Adolescents Less Mature Than Adults? Minors’ Access to Abortion, the Juvenile Death Penalty, and the Alleged APA “Flip-Flop,” American Psychologist 64 (2009): 583–594.

L. Steinberg and E. Scott, “Less Guilty by Reason of Adolescence: Developmental Immaturity, Diminished Responsibility, and the Juvenile Death Penalty,” American Psychologist 58 (2003): 1009–1018."

"Laurence Steinberg ( is Distinguished University Professor and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology at Temple University. This article is adapted from the annual Henry and Bryna David Lecture, which was delivered at the National Academy of Sciences on November 3, 2011."

Each day, 365 days a year, $586 million US taxpayer dollars are diverted by the federal government to alleged "climate" danger spending as of 2014. That's $21.4 billion for the year, per Congressional Research Service.

page 3, 2014 "Federal Climate Change" taxpayer funding requested:

$11.6 billion + 9.8 billion= $21.4 billion for the year. This doesn't include additional monies allocated by Congress, monies taken out of the economy via regulation (such as $18 billion removed from the economy in 2012 via costly new alleged environmental regulations), monies diverted by US states and regions, and federal monies not reported for miscellaneous reasons.

More from Congressional Research Service:

Sept. 13, 2013, "Federal Climate Change Funding from FY 2008 to FY 2014," Congressional Research Service

page 3:

"The President’s request for FY2014 contains $11.6 billion for federal expenditures on programs. In the request, 23% would be for science (the U.S. Global Change Research Program or USGCRP), 68% for “clean energy” technology development and deployment, 8% for international assistance, and 1% for adapting to climate change. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also reports energy tax provisions that may reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would reduce tax revenues by $9.8 billion." [This added $9.8 billion removed from tax revenue via "energy tax provisions" isn't shown on chart below (from p. 3)].



Added: CO2 regulations against imaginary CO2 danger take billions more out of US economy:

4/22/2013, "Costs of New Regulations issued in 2012 dwarf those of previous years, according to OMB report," Regulatory Studies Center, George Washington University


(chart from George Washington Univ.)

2012's most costly regulations were issued by EPA:

One new regulation costs $10.8 billion annually (adds $1800 to the price of a new car). Another regulation costing $10 billion+ annually will increase electricity costs to consumers via added equipment requirements for electricity providers:

"Regulations of 2012"...

"The most costly regulations[10] were issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Topping the list were new automotive fuel-economy standards, issued jointly by the EPA and the Department of Transportation, which the EPA calculated will cost $10.8 billion annually. The bulk of this cost will fall on drivers, who will pay an estimated $1,800 more for a new vehicle.

Coming in a close second was the EPA’s so-called Utility MACT regulation[11] at more than $10 billion annually. This 210-page regulation requires utilities and other electricity generators that use fossil fuels to install the “maximum achievable control technology” (MACT) to limit emissions. So stringent are the standards that potentially dozens of coal-fired power plants will close, thereby undermining the reliability of the power grid and substantially raising the costs of electricity for consumers. The EPA is currently reconsidering the portion of this rule pertaining to new power plants, and has stayed its implementation of the rule for such facilities."...

May 1, 2013, "Red Tape Rising: Regulation in Obama’s First Term," Heritage Foundation, James Gattuso, Diance Katz


6/4/2012, "Climate change stunner: USA leads world in CO2 cuts since 2006," Vancouver Observer, Saxifrage

"Not only that, but as my top chart shows, US CO2 emissions are falling even faster than what President Obama pledged in the global Copenhagen Accord."... Here is the biggest shocker of all: the average American’s CO2 emissions are down to levels not seen since 1964 --over half a century ago. …Coal is the number two source of CO2 for Americans. Today the average American burns an amount similar to what they did in 1955, and even less than they did in the 1940s. …It is exactly America’s historical role of biggest and dirtiest that   makes their sharp decline in CO2 pollution so noteworthy and potentially game changing at the global level.”...

US CO2 drops to 20 year low:

8/16/2012, "AP Impact: CO2 Emissions in US Drop to 20-Year Low," AP, Kevin Begos

"In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.

Many of the world's leading climate scientists didn't see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide....

In a little-noticed technical report, the U.S. Energy Information Agency, a part of the Energy Department, said this month that energy related U.S. CO2 emissions for the first four months of this year fell to about 1992 levels. Energy emissions make up about 98 percent of the total. The Associated Press contacted environmental experts, scientists and utility companies and learned that virtually everyone believes the shift could have major long-term implications for U.S. energy policy....

Coal and energy use are still growing rapidly in other countries, particularly China, and CO2 levels globally are rising, not falling."... 


Added: George HW Bush mandated in 1990--with the approval of the entire US political class every day since--that US taxpayers must spend decades paying for creation of a new global industry, global climate science. A special twist--the new industry is based on demonizing and punishing Americans in perpetuity:

Desperately seeking "climate action"? You got it, thanks to George HW Bush and unlimited access to US taxpayer cash by the US political class. "Climate action" via US taxpayer dollars exploded in 1990 and has continued  (This chart, page 4, pdf, is an underestimate, doesn't include congressional appropriations):

"Note and Sources: The data shown here are funding disbursements by the White House U.S. Global Change Research Program and its predecessor, the National Climate Program, available at NCP 1988, 43; Climate Science Watch 2007; and Leggett, Lattanzio, and Bruner 2013. These data, however, do not represent congressional climate science funding appropriations to other government agencies. As we show later in a more detailed assessment of U.S. government climate science funding, the numbers here, especially those for more recent years, greatly underestimate the actual level of funding." pdf p. 4

Fall 2015, "Causes and Consequences of the Climate Science Boom,", Butos and McQuade

"Government policies and funding as well as the emergence of a scientific “Big Player” [UN IPCC] that has aggressively championed the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming (AGW)1, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have together fomented a boom in climate science that began in the early 1990s and has grown markedly over the past decade."...

Image of Bush #1, "New World Order quotes" via You Tube


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