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Ernst Mallin shrank, as though trying to pull himself into himself, when he heard his
name. He didn’t want to testify. He had been dreading this moment for days. Now he
would have to sit in that chair, and they would ask him questions, and he couldn’t answer
them truthfully and the globe over his head—
When the deputy marshal touched his shoulder and spoke to him, he didn’t think, at first,
that his legs would support him. It seemed miles, with all the staring faces on either side
of him. Somehow, he reached the chair and sat down, and they fitted the helmet over his
head and attached the electrodes. They used to make a witness take some kind of an oath
to tell the truth. They didn’t any more. They didn’t need to.
As soon as the veridicator was on, he looked up at the big screen behind the three judges;
the globe above his head was a glaring red. There was a titter of laughter. Nobody in the
Courtroom knew better than he what was happening. He had screens in his laboratory
that broke it all down into individual patterns—the steady pulsing waves from the cortex,
the alpha and beta waves; beta-aleph and beta-beth and beta-gimel and beta-daleth. The
thalamic waves. He thought of all of them, and of the electromagnetic events which
accompanied brain activity. As he did, the red faded and the globe became blue. He was
no longer suppressing statements and substituting other statements he knew to be false. If
he could keep it that way. But, sooner or later, he knew, he wouldn’t be able to.
The globe stayed blue while he named himself and stated his professional background.
There was a brief flicker of red while he was listing his publication—that paper, entirely
the work of one of his students, which he had published under his own name. He had
forgotten about that, but his conscience hadn’t.
“Dr. Mallin,” the oldest of the three judges, who sat in the middle, began, “what, in your
professional opinion, is the difference between sapient and nonsapient mentation?”
“The ability to think consciously,” he stated. The globe stayed blue.
“Do you mean that nonsapient animals aren’t conscious, or do you mean they don’t
“Well, neither. Any life form with a central nervous system has some consciousness—
awareness of existence and of its surroundings. And anything having a brain thinks, to
use the term at its loosest. What I meant was that only the sapient mind thinks and knows
that it is thinking.”
He was perfectly safe so far. He talked about sensory stimuli and responses, and about
conditioned reflexes. He went back to the first century Pre-Atomic, and Pavlov and
Korzybski and Freud. The globe never flickered.