Wisconsin student twitters his way to PhD in biomedical engineering

First off this video:

What is it all about? Just another day in the Twitter-crazed US media landscape: a high-profiled news report on Adam Wilson, a biomedical engineer at the University of Wisconsin–Madison who, according to Wired, managed to send a tweet using only his brain. Quite self-referentially, the first telepathic microblogging message in the history of humankind simply read: “USING EEG TO SEND TWEET”. I cannot help but wonder if Antonio Meucci’s first telephone call went something like that, too – with him shouting “I’M USING MY MOUTH TO SPEAK ON THE PHONE!!!”


New discovery: actually Internet CURES cancer!!!

By Antonio A. Casilli (Centre Edgar-Morin, EHESS, Paris)

After putting online a post that satirized an article claiming that electronic media give cancer recently published by Aric Sigman in The Biologist (2009), I’ve undergone a phase of serious self-criticism. Sure, I was in fierce disagreement with the author. But the general tone of my post was un-academic and rude. Ad hominem attacks really don’t belong in science. Turns out I am a dismissive prick. What do you know? 😀

So I decided to make it right by you folks, and to hone my argument by providing evidence – hard fact-based scientific evidence. I did it like any other scientist would, by collecting a bunch of data, tinkering with them a little, cherry-picking something, hiding something else, and wrapping everything up in fancy graphics! What did I get at the end of the day? A revolutionary discovery: not only Internet does not give cancer, it actually cures it!

How did I come up with such a sensational breakthrough? First, I took a random data set from the United Nations Statistics Division. Then I arbitrarily decided that Internet access would be an accurate proxy for actual Internet use. So I asked myself the following question: do countries that are more connected (in terms of percentage of people having Internet access) have a higher number of deaths for two common types of cancer – breast for the ladies, prostate for the gents? For the sake of completeness, I focused on 2002 (because data were not available for several countries before that year). I put everything in my statistical blender, and this is what I obtained:

Correlation Internet access and prostate cancer deaths - via

Correlation bw Internet access and prostate cancer mortality - via


Use social networking services, get free cancer

By Antonio A. Casilli (Centre Edgar-Morin, EHESS, Paris)

In a recent lecture at the University Paris Descartes I had mentioned an article published in The Biologist by Aric Sigman, Fellow of the English Royal Society for Medicine, claiming that intensive use of social networking is linked to biological changes in humans: genetic alterations, increased morbidity/mortality for cardiovascular disease, and decreasing survival time for cancer patients. It’s the infamous “Facebook gives cancer” argument, that has caused quite a stir in the UK. The article, that you have here in pdf version, provides a clear illustration of what I described elsewhere as “the dialectic between the stethoscope and the mouse” – i.e. the ambivalent relationship between contemporary biomedicine and digital culture (Casilli, 2009).

In his always amazing Bad Science blog, Ben Goldacre has already bashed the article to a pulp from a medical standpoint, showing that the underlying research is far from being scientifially robust – a medical euphemism mainly used to dismiss despicable bullshit.

From the sociological point of view, I am pretty astonished to discover that all of Sigman’s argument is based on one assumption: that the increase in social networking website usage automatically results into a decline of face-to-face contact which in turn equates to social withdrawal – which causes cancer. This graph, featured in the article, pretty much sums it up:


Source: Aric Sigman 2009

For the non-initiated, that basically reads: “The more you surf on the Web, the more you grow lonely and your friends and family turn their backs on you and in the end you DIE ALONE like a dog”.


Greek online journal Re-public special issue on transhumanism

Re-Public is a bilingual Greek/English online journal focusing on democratic and collaborative developments in contemporary politics. Under the illuminated guidance of Marc Roux (promoter of the blossoming Technoprog movement) a special issue devoted to transhumanism has just been put online. The issue focuses specifically on the political dimensions of the body, health and biotechnologies in the present social context.

You can have a look at articles such as The self-surgeons (by Andrea Mancuso),  Why reimaginative democrats should ignore the siren songs of a posthuman future (by former poster-boy for black transhumanism Justice De Thézier), and Biotechnologies and individual liberties (by Ghislain Perreau). Indeed the pièce de résistance is the interview with the charismatic performer Stelarc: Bodies without desires.

Powerpoint de mon intervention sur handicap et médias sociaux à l'Université de Nancy

Bernard Andrieu est un exemple de chercheur dont la carrière procède sur deux rails. D’une part, son activité de Professeur d’Epistémologie du corps et des pratiques corporelles à l’Université Henri Poincaré, Nancy. De l’autre, son site d’actualité SHS sur le corps, l’incontournable leblogducorps, qu’il anime depuis 2005.

Depuis 2 ans, j’ai le plaisir de suivre le blogueur Andrieu, mais c’est l’Andrieu professeur qui m’a fait l’honneur de solliciter une intervention dans le cadre du Congrès international Pratiques Sportives, Handicaps et Territoires. Ma communication a ouvert la première journée de l’axe Corps bionique, cyborg et hybridité. Et, pour ceux qui l’avaient demandé, ici vous pouvez la télécharger en version powerpoint.

Dans la revue Esprit mon dossier sur "Le corps dans la culture du numérique"

La dernière livraison de la revue Esprit (mars 2009), est entièrement consacrée aux impacts sociaux d’Internet. Elle contient le dossier Le corps à l’épreuve des cultures numériques que j’ai coordonné.

Flotando - by Lampeduza (c) Creative Commons


Powerpoint de mon séminaire sur corps, MMORPG, médecine et réseaux sociaux (Paris Descartes)

Pour ceux qui l’avaient demandée, voilà la présentation powerpoint de mon intervention du 3 mars 2009 à la Faculté de Médecine de l’Université Paris Descartes.  Vous pouvez la télécharger en cliquant sur l’image.