This 122 Year Old Woman Has The Most Important Secret To A Life Of Longevity .| Collective-Evolution

The primary determinant of health for the average person is thought. Not genetics, not exercise or nutrition, but the mind. This has been shown over and over again by the scientific fields of psychoneuroimmunology, psychoneurocardiology, psychoneuroendocrinology, not to mention cancer research and all the various psychosomatic disorders that have been studied.


If you doubt that thought affects health then I will be happy to have a truckload of research evidence dumped at your doorstep (at your expense) that you can take the next few years perusing. On second thought, why don’t I just relate a story.

The oldest documented person that ever lived was a French woman named Jeanne Calment who made it to 122 years, 164 days on this earth.

What was her secret? According to French researcher Jean-Marie Robine, “She never did anything special to stay in good health.”

Jeanne Calment smoked cigarettes (started at age 21), drank port wine and ate a couple of pounds of chocolate sweets a week until she was 119 years old.

She credited her longevity to laughing a lot and not getting stressed out. She is quoted as saying “If you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it.”(1) It probably didn’t hurt that her life circumstances — born into wealth and married wealth — enabled a life of ease and comfort; in other words, no mental stress.

Let’s contrast this with someone I knew personally that lived a very healthful lifestyle, ate right, exercised and could be described as being disgustingly healthy. He dropped dead of a heart attack at age 61. Funny enough, this didn’t surprise me because I knew this person had a type “A” personality. I also recall never having seen him laugh; not even once.

Personal stories are all well and good but what does the research say about thought and the major causes of death — heart disease and cancer? The studies on thought and cardiac disease are so well known there is really no point in covering it, but what about cancer?

According to the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, “Extreme suppression of anger was the most commonly identified characteristic of 160 breast cancer patients.” (2)

In other research: “Extremely low anger scores have been noted in numerous studies of patients with cancer. Such low scores suggest suppression, repression, or restraint of anger. There is evidence to show that suppressed anger can be a precursor to the development of cancer, and also a factor in its progression after diagnosis.” (3)

In my opinion, the most interesting thing in this article is that a woman that lived 122 years smoked cigarettes for 100 years without any ill effect. Why didn’t smoking lead her to an early grave? I would say, “Because thought is more important than lifestyle.”


1)   Retrieved April 28, 2014, from

2) Journal of Psychosomatic Research

Volume 19, Issue 2, April 1975, Pages 147–153

3)   Cancer Nurs. 2000 Oct;23(5):344-9.

If You Are a Cancer Survivor, This Is a Must Read .

Getting through cancer treatment successfully is something to celebrate. To stay in good health, doctors say you need to watch for other symptoms, including vision changes, headaches and problems with balance.

What many cancer survivors don’t realize is that 25 percent of people who survive some common cancers go on to develop a brain tumor. These brain tumors don’t originate in the brain but are actually cancerous cells from the original tumor that travel to the brain through the bloodstream. When this happens, doctors call these tumors brain metastases.

“About one-third of patients with the most common cancers — lung, breast and kidney cancer and melanoma — are at risk of developing brain metastases,” says Cleveland Clinic neurosurgeon Gene Barnett, MD.

When this happens, the resulting growth needs early treatment. Dr. Barnett says early detection can help people get the right treatment at the right time to avoid serious complications. This is why you need to be vigilant and pay attention to your symptoms.

Watch for these 9 signs

If you’ve had cancer and experience these symptoms, be sure to tell your doctor:

  1. Vision changes (such as double vision or partial vision loss)
  2. Headaches (possibly with nausea)
  3. Numbness or tingling in part of the body
  4. Paralysis or difficulty moving any part of the body
  5. Inability to walk
  6. Difficulty with balance and an increased incidence of falls
  7. Difficulty speaking (including slurred words or incoherent speech)
  8. Problems with mental acuity (such as not being able to read or tell time)
  9. Seizure or convulsions

Metastatic brain tumors tend to develop gradually, although severe episodes can occur. No matter what, it’s important to tell your doctor immediately so he or she can evaluate you and treat you early as needed.

Treatable brain tumors

For years, doctors believed that brain metastases were uniformly fatal. Treatment could only to relieve symptoms. Today, they know that such tumors are treatable, thanks to technological and medical advances. The key is early detection.

To help in this fight, Cleveland Clinic teamed with the Northern Ohio American Cancer Society to establish the B-Aware Program. “Our goal is to educate at-risk cancer patients so that brain metastases are detected as early as possible, when they have the greatest number of treatment options,” says Dr. Barnett.

Many treatments available

We’ve come a long way from the days when the only treatment option available for brain metastases was whole brain radiation. This often failed to control the tumors. Today, aggressive and precisely delivered treatments produce better outcomes with fewer side effects.

Treatment options depend on the location, type and extent of the tumor, and include:

  • Radiosurgery. Radiosurgery directs highly focused beams of radiation at the tumor with extreme precision. This will not destroy the tumor, but may succeed in stopping tumor growth. Surgeons deliver this radiation so precisely that they can spare the surrounding brain tissue. Gamma Knife surgery is a common form of radiosurgery.
  • Minimal access surgery. This type of surgery allows doctors to remove the tumor in a faster, simpler way. Surgeons make a very small incision in the skull or hidden in a nearby structure. This reduces postoperative complications, minimizes pain and scarring, and shortens recovery time.
  • Localized radiotherapy, or radiation therapy. Radiotherapy exposes the cancerous cells to ionizing radiation that injures or destroys them. Doctors often use radiotherapy before or in addition to radiosurgery.
  • Medical therapies. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill tumor cells that are dividing most rapidly. Many drugs used successfully for tumors in the body cannot penetrate into the brain. However, in certain cases, chemotherapy or other medical treatments may secure control of certain brain metastases.

“We want to help patients ‘be aware’ of all management options, so they don’t blindly agree to a proposed treatment which may not be in their best interest,” says Dr. Barnett. “They always have the right to seek a second opinion.”

Genetically Modified Babies Are Already A Reality |Higher Perspective

  • Marcy Darnovsky is the executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society. “This is a dangerous step”, warns Darnovsky. According to her, these methods will “change all the cells in the bodies of children born as a result of their use, and these changes will be transmitted to future generations.”

We are talking about the methods that FDA calls the “mitochondrial manipulation technologies.” Nuclear material is extracted from the egg or embryo of a woman with hereditary mitochondrial disease and transplanted into a healthy egg or donor embryo (their own nuclear materials are removed). Thus the offspring will carry the genes of three people: mother, father and the donor.


The developers of these methods say that they will give the opportunity to sick women to give birth to healthy children with whom they will be genetically related. Some suggest to use them in cases of infertility associated with age.

“The objectives are worthy, but the methods are particularly problematic in terms of consequences for society and health risks“, says the author. What if children or subsequent generations will manifest complications? And how far will we go in trying to create genetically engineered humans?

Many scientists and politicians call to apply the tools of human genetic engineering carefully and thoughtfully and use them aiming only to treat genetic disorders, but not to manipulate the hereditary traits of future children. “Genetic modification of sperm, eggs and embryos at an early stage of development should be strictly prohibited. Otherwise there is a risk of sliding into experiments on humans and high-tech eugenics“, the author writes.

However, it seems that the resistance to inherited gene modifications decreases in many countries. The idea of manipulating mitochondria is considered not only by the U.S., but also by the British authorities.

The author notes that women with mitochondrial diseases have less dangerous ways to have children (adoption, IVF using donor eggs).

“If we can do something, it does not mean that we should do it,” concludes Marcy Darnovsky.

Human Fat: A Trojan Horse to Fight Brain Cancer?

Johns Hopkins researchers use stem cells derived from human body fat to deliver treatment for deadly glioblastoma in mice

Fast Facts:

  • Johns Hopkins used stem cells derived from human body fat to deliver biological treatments directly to the brains of mice with the most common and aggressive form of brain tumor.
  • The mice treated this way had less tumor growth and spread, and their cancers were overall less aggressive and had fewer migratory cancer cells compared to mice that didn’t get the treatment.
  • The treated mice survived significantly longer, living an average of 76 days, as compared to 52 days in the untreated mice.
  • The experiments advance the possibility that the technique could work in people after surgical removal of brain cancers called glioblastomas to find and destroy any remaining cancer cells in difficult-to-reach areas of the brain.
Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D.
Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D.

Johns Hopkins researchers say they have successfully used stem cells derived from human body fat to deliver biological treatments directly to the brains of mice with the most common and aggressive form of brain tumor, significantly extending their lives.

The experiments advance the possibility, the researchers say, that the technique could work in people after surgical removal of brain cancers called glioblastomas to find and destroy any remaining cancer cells in difficult-to-reach areas of the brain. Glioblastoma cells are particularly nimble; they are able to migrate across the entire brain, hide out and establish new tumors. Cure rates for the tumor are notoriously low as a result.

In the mouse experiments, the Johns Hopkins investigators used mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) — which have an unexplained ability to seek out cancer and other damaged cells — that they harvested from human fat tissue. They modified the MSCs to secrete bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4), a small protein involved in regulating embryonic development and known to have some tumor suppression function. The researchers, who had already given a group of mice glioblastoma cells several weeks earlier, injected stem cells armed with BMP4 into their brains.

In a report published in the May 1 issue of Clinical Cancer Research, the investigators say the mice treated this way had less tumor growth and spread, and their cancers were overall less aggressive and had fewer migratory cancer cells compared to mice that didn’t get the treatment. Meanwhile, the mice that received stem cells with BMP4 survived significantly longer, living an average of 76 days, as compared to 52 days in the untreated mice.

“These modified mesenchymal stem cells are like a Trojan horse, in that they successfully make it to the tumor without being detected and then release their therapeutic contents to attack the cancer cells,” says study leader Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D., a professor of neurosurgery, oncology and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Standard treatments for glioblastoma include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, but even a combination of all three rarely leads to more than 18 months of survival after diagnosis. Finding a way to get biologic therapy to mop up what other treatments can’t get is a long-sought goal, says Quinones-Hinojosa, who cautions that years of additional studies are needed before human trials of fat-derived MSC therapies could begin.

Quinones-Hinojosa, who treats brain cancer patients at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, says his team was heartened by the fact that the stem cells let loose into the brain in his experiments did not transform themselves into new tumors.

The latest findings build on research published in March 2013 by Quinones-Hinojosa and his team in the journal PLOS ONE, which showed that harvesting MSCs from fat was much less invasive and less expensive than getting them from bone marrow, a more commonly studied method.

Ideally, he says, if MSCs work, a patient with a glioblastoma would have some adipose tissue (fat) removed from any number of locations in the body a short time before surgery. The MSCs in the fat would be drawn out and manipulated in the lab to secrete BMP4. Then, after surgeons removed the brain tumor, they could deposit these treatment-armed cells into the brain in the hopes that they would seek out and destroy the cancer cells.
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (RO1NS070024) and the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund.

Other Johns Hopkins researchers involved in the study include Qian Li, Ph.D.; Olindi Wijesekera; Joanna Y. Wang; Mingxin Zhu, M.D.; Colette ap Rhys, Ph.D.; Kaisorn L. Chaichana, M.D.; David A. Chesler, M.D., Ph.D.; Hao Zhang, M.D.; Christopher L. Smith, Ph.D.; and Hugo Guerrero-Cazares, M.D., Ph.D. Researchers from Yale University also contributed to this work.

Is it My Hormones or Is It Something Else?

Have you ever experienced insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, depression, bowel problems, hot flashes, problems concentrating, confusion, lack of sex drive, or misplaced anger? Were you told that these symptoms were due to PMS, perimenopause, menopause, or that you were experiencing a hormonal imbalance?


What is really happening in a woman’s life? Can all her symptoms be due to PMS, perimenopause, or menopause? Is it really her hormones?

Mary-Ann, a 48-year-old nurse practitioner was diagnosed with perimenopause because of fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and a low sex drive. She tried many alternative therapies, including natural progesterone cream, to no avail. She was told that her symptoms were due to a hormonal imbalance.

However, her symptoms of overwhelming fatigue started when she moved to a new town and a new hospital job where she felt that the interests of her patients were not being met. She felt frustrated and inadequate. By the time she came to see me, it was difficult for her to get out of bed in the morning. She was very concerned since all the blood tests by her healthcare provider were normal.

Joan, 53 years old, had been working as an office manager for more than 25 years. During her last visit to the dentist, Joan felt panicky when she sat in the dental chair and had to leave without having the work done. She continued to feel anxious, especially at work. She was told that her problems were caused by hormone deficiency. Even though she did not like the idea of taking any medication, she was prescribed Xanax and HRT. This all coincided with Joan being required at work to take on much more responsibility because of budget cuts.

What was the common thread? These women’s symptoms started when they found themselves in situations where they felt out of control.

Unfortunately, women are usually in family or job settings that do not fully support them. They tend to the needs of others first, with little or no time left for self. Could symptoms be the sign of a woman’s body reminding her of her own unmet needs?

Deeper Issues

After listening to women patients and friends all over the world for over three decades, I have found that when they are diagnosed with hormonal problems many are really dealing with deeply buried childhood or adulthood traumas. Many times these women do not realize what it is really going on. They might say they had a happy childhood, but no one grows up unscathed; everyone has issues from childhood.

The more issues or traumas they have, the more unhappy they are. These include being a victim of abandonment, neglect and/or abuse whether verbal, mental, physical, or sexual. Many think problems have been dealt with after years of therapy. But sometimes the wound is so deep that some residual effects still need to be dealt with.

Women with a history of childhood sexual abuse (incest, rape, and/or inappropriate touching) first will experience anxiety, mood swings, depression, eating and sleep disturbances. Months or years after the event it is not uncommon to have phobias, nightmares, flashbacks, and gynecological symptoms. There are feelings of inadequacy, self-blame, depression, mood and anxiety disorders, alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use and abuse, eating disorders, suicide attempts and medically unexplained symptoms.

Next time you are having unexplained symptoms ask yourself:

• Could I have unresolved childhood issues?

• Do I have someone I need to forgive?

• Have I made healthy lifestyle choices?

• Do I feel good about my work, home, and relationships?

• Have I been too busy taking care of everyone else?

• Am I afraid to rock the boat because I am afraid to be alone?

• Do I stay in abusive relationships because of financial security?

• Am I afraid of changes?

• Have I been ignoring or denying intuitive messages from my body?

• Have I been reaching for a quick fix for symptoms?

Study reveals that antibacterial soap causes breast cancer.

Most people see them as a guarantee of safety against harmful pathogens, but the antibacterial chemicals commonly added to soaps, toothpastes and various other personal care products could be making you sick. A new study out of South Korea has found that the popular antibacterial additive, triclosan, exhibits cancer-promoting effects both in vitro and in vivo, a finding that could have significant implications for humans.


For their research, Kyung-Chul Choi and colleagues from Chungbuk National University and the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology looked at triclosan in the context of how it affects the hormonal system. A known hormone-disruptor, triclosan has been shown in previous research to mimic the feminizing hormone estrogen, which in turn alters the normal production and expression of other hormones like testosterone.

As a result, triclosan appears to throw the endocrine system out of balance, leading to abnormal cellular growths. Particularly in women, triclosan appears to trigger the growth of breast cancer cells, leading to the formation of malignant tumors. This was demonstrated both in cell samples and in live mice, as breast cancer cells were shown to thrive in the presence of triclosan.

After comparing the frequency and progression patterns of breast cancer growth in both the cell samples and the mice, some of which were exposed to triclosan and some of which were not, it became clear that the chemical spurs abnormal cell proliferation. And the fact that triclosan bioaccumulates in the body over time makes the threat of it even more pronounced.

“Although the doses of EDCs were somewhat high, we did this to simulate the effects of daily exposure, as well as body accumulation due to long-term exposure, simultaneously in animal experiments,” stated Choi. “Thus, exposure to EDCs may significantly increase the risk of breast cancer development and adversely affect human health,” wrote he and the others in their paper.

Octylphenol amplifies cancer-causing effects of triclosan

The team also identified another antibacterial chemical, octylphenol, which exhibits similar cancer-promoting effects. Though lesser known than triclosan, octylphenol was shown to work in conjunction with triclosan to amplify the growth and spread of cancer cells, illustrating the immense dangers associated with these ubiquitous chemicals.

“Research has found that two EDCs — triclosan, an antimicrobial ingredient in many products, including soaps, cosmetics and cutting boards; and octylphenol, which is in some paints, pesticides and plastics — have accumulated in the environment,” explains “Additionally, triclosan is reportedly in the urine of an estimated 75 percent of Americans.”

Consumer groups like Beyond Pesticides and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have been raising awareness about the dangers of triclosan for years, highlighting its status as a known endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) and pushing for its removal from personal care products. But many commercial products still contain it, which is why consumers need to beware.

“Studies have increasingly linked triclosan and its chemical cousin triclocarban, to a range of adverse health and environmental effects, from skin irritation, endocrine disruption, bacterial and compounded antibiotic resistance, to the contamination of water and its negative impact on fragile aquatic ecosystems,” explains Beyond Pesticides.

For an abstract on this latest study linking triclosan and octylphenol to breast cancer, visit:

Sources for this article include:

The Secret to Building the Pyramids?

The Egyptian pyramids are considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and it’s not surprising: when you stare at the massive structures, you can’t help but wonder, “How the hell did they do it?” The stones, some weighing 9,000 pounds, came from far away and needed to be dragged into place. Now, researchers from the University of Amsterdam believe they’ve discovered ancient Egyptians’ cunning strategy to move those massive stones: wet sand.


With the right amount of water, researchers found, sand turns into a sturdy surface that halves the force needed to drag sleds loaded with rocks or statues across the desert. In fact, an ancient wall painting in the tomb of Djehutihotep shows a person pouring water over the sand in front of a sledge. 

Sliding Sleds

Sand builds up in front of the sledge when it is dragged over dry sand. On the wet, compact sand this does not occur. (Credit: Fundamental Research on Matter)

To test their hypothesis, researchers loaded up sledges with heavy weights and, well, dragged them across sand. When they dragged the weighted sled across dry sand, the front of the sled dug into the sand and nosedived deeper into trouble. When the sand was wet, however, the sand stiffened and allowed the sled to slide across with ease. At a molecular level, that’s because so-called capillary bridges arise when water is added to sand, which binds the sand grains together.

Researchers then used a rheometer to measure how much force is needed to deform a certain volume of sand. They found that wet sand is about twice as stiff as dry sand, which, in turn, halves the amount of force needed to move a weight. They published their findings Tuesday in the journal Physical Review Letters.

The simple wetting of sand, then, may have made building the pyramids easier—though the 100,000 slaves (according to Greek historian Herodotus) who labored constantly to build the massive structures may debate that definition of easy.

Many heavily breastfed infants not getting needed dietary diversity

Approximately three of every four Cincinnati infants heavily breastfeed after the age of six months is not obtaining the level of dietary diversity recommended by the World Health Organization, according to a new Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center study.

The study raises the question of whether better education is needed about the importance of introducing at least four food groups a day after six months until the age of 2.

“Much of the previous work in the area of dietary diversity has focused on developing nations, where access to healthy and sufficient complementary foods may be limited,” says Jessica G. Woo, PhD, a researcher at Cincinnati Children’s and lead author of the study.

“Our research raises some concern about infants in developed nations, particularly the United States, who may not be achieving sufficient dietary diversity by one year of age. It is important to note, however, that our analysis did not determine the impact of dietary diversity on growth or nutritional status of these infants.”

Dr. Woo will present her study at 1 p.m. Pacific time Saturday, May 3, at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, Canada.

The researchers studied 365 breastfed infants in Cincinnati, Shanghai and Mexico City. Dietary diversity increased between 6 and 12 months, but less than 28 percent of highly breastfed Cincinnati infants received diverse diets between 6 and 12 months – considerably fewer than in Shanghai and Mexico City.

Previous studies have expressed concern that if the diet isn’t diverse there might be implications for poor growth in environments where food is scarce. “In Cincinnati, scarcity isn’t really the issue,” says Dr. Woo. “I would have worried more about scarcity in Mexico City, where the study participants are lower income, but those children seem to be achieving a reasonably diverse diet even when breastfed heavily.”

Fixing Nerve Damage, “Terminator”-Style .

What’s the Latest Development?

Researchers at Beijing’s Tsinghua University are borrowing from the popular Terminator series of movies for their latest project: They have created an alloy of gallium, indium and selenium that, when used on the severed sciatic nerves of bullfrogs, conducted electrical impulses almost as well as an undamaged nerve. Because the alloy is liquid at room temperature, it can be removed from the body with a syringe once the nerve ends have reconnected.

What’s the Big Idea?

The healing process for severed nerves is slow, and current methods of assistance, such as the use of grafting scaffolds, can carry serious risks. Also, if the corresponding muscles are unable to receive electrical impulses, they could atrophy. Expert Mei Zhang says that while the concept of using liquid metal is innovative, it too could be dangerous: “If it gets into your bloodstream, in the worst case you could be poisoned.” Tsinghua’s Jing Liu agrees. “[T]remendous evaluations about the safety of the material are needed….This is a brand new trial in its initial stage.”

Technology law will soon be reshaped by people who don’t use email .

The US supreme court doesn’t understand the internet. Laugh all you want, but when NSA, Pandora and privacy cases hit the docket, the lack of tech savvy on the bench gets scary


supreme court nsa illustration
Internet radio, out-of-control software patents, online posts as protected speech and secret NSA orders could all bubble up the supreme court in the near future. Illustrations: DonkeyHotey / Flickr via Creative Commons (justices and seal); Electronic Frontier Foundation (NSA)

There’s been much discussion – and derision – of the US supreme court’s recent forays into cellphones and the internet, but as more and more of these cases bubble up to the high chamber, including surveillance reform, we won’t be laughing for long: the future of technology and privacy law will undoubtedly be written over the next few years by nine individuals who haven’t “really ‘gotten to’ email” and find Facebook and Twitter “a challenge” .

A pair of cases that went before the court this week raise the issue of whether police can search someone’s cellphone after an arrest but without a warrant. The court’s decisions will inevitably affect millions. As the New York Times editorial board explained on the eve of the arguments, “There are 12 million arrests in America each year, most for misdemeanors that can be as minor as jaywalking.” Over 90% of Americans have cellphones, and as the American Civil Liberties Union argued in a briefing to the court, our mobile devices “are in effect, our new homes”.

Most people under 40 probably would agree police should never have the right to rummage through our entire lives without a particular purpose based on probable cause.Yet during arguments, Justice Roberts insinuated that police might reasonably suspect a person who carries two cellphones of being a drug dealer. Is he unaware that a large portion of the DC political class with which he associates – including many of his law clerks – carries both a personal and business phone, daily? The chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States may have proved this week that he can throw out tech lingo like “Facebook” and even “Fitbit”, but he is trapped in the closet from reality.

This is not the first time justices have opened themselves up to mockery for their uninitiated take on tech issues. Just last week, in the copyright case against Aereo, the justices’ verbal reach seemed to exceed their grasp, as they inadvertently invented phrases like “Netflick” and “iDrop”, among others. Before that, many ripped Justice Roberts for seemingly not knowing the difference between a pager and email. And then there was the time when a group of them tried to comprehend text messages, or when the justices and counsel before them agreed that “any computer group of people” could write most software “sitting around the coffee shop … over the weekend.” (Hey, at least Ginsburg reads Slate.)

The supremes tend to do better on tech cases when they avoid engaging directly in the actual technical substance of technology. They received praise for ruling, 9-0, two years ago that police need a warrant to place a GPS tracker on someone’s car. Even then, though, Justice Alito ridiculed Justice Scalia’s controlling opinion for determining such a modern issue “based on 18th-century tort law”.

When it comes to the future of tech policy in the US, this week’s cellphone arguments are just the tip of the iceberg. Right now the FBI is engaged in all varieties of warrantless surveillance, using a variety of devices. Most critically, the agency thinks it can get our mobile location information, which reveals the most intimate details of our lives, without a warrant. The sharp split in lower courts will only get more pronounced over the next year.

Other cases percolating through the justice system address the question of whether police can compel you to hand over the password to your devices. Given that the right to not self-incriminate is spelled out in the Fifth Amendment, and that it parallels between login credentials and other information stored in your head, compelled decryption may seem antithetical to the Constitution. But in cases involving encrypted hard drives, the government has argued otherwise.


That’s not all: internet radio services, out-of-control software patents, and whether online posts should be judged the same as traditionally protected speech – all of these may all bubble up to the high court soon.

And remember, just months before Edward Snowden became a household name, the ACLU was in front of the supreme court arguing the Fisa Amendments Act, one of the primary laws at the center of the NSA scandal, was unconstitutional. The court cowardly dismissed the case 5-4 on “standing” grounds, and never ruled on the merits. One of the first things Snowden reportedly said after his disclosures when the ACLU became his legal counsel was: “Do you have standing now?”

Do they ever. Thanks to Snowden’s revelations, a second flurry of lawsuits – 25, by The Verge’s count – have cropped up all over the country. Even NSA advocates, who for years tried to prevent courts from ruling on the subject, are suddenly suggesting the supreme court should weigh in, hoping it’s their only way out.

Tellingly, the NSA’s legal house of cards is pinned on a horribly outdated case from the 1970s that ruled the government could get the phone records for one suspect under active investigation, for a short period of time. The government has morphed that to mean they can collect all sorts of metadata, on everyone, forever.

The good news is, if the justices can avoid fixating on technical details – the very kind they don’t seem to understand – the Roberts Court may still come to the right decision. After chiding the justices in Aereo, Vox’s Tim Lee argued it’s actually a good thing the justices are not technically savvy, because it allows them to see the bigger picture, citing that they have “done a remarkably good job of crafting a sensible body of patent and copyright laws in the past few decades”. (They also delivered an encouraging decision on patent trolls just this week.)

There’s evidence, in recent privacy opinions, that at least some of the justices understand how technology is used, even if they don’t use it themselves. As Justice Sotomayor wrote in her concurring opinion in the GPS case:

It may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties…This approach is ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks.

Encouragingly, Justice Kagan made similar comments this week.

But as Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Parker Higgins convincingly argues, it’s not the justices’ lack of personal experience with technology that’s the problem; it’s their tendency to not understand how people use it. Returning to Justice Roberts’s concerns about villains with two phones: if he is in fact unaware of how common that behavior is – he certainly didn’t watch Breaking Bad – then that suggests a major gap in his understanding of society.

This lack of basic understanding is alarming, because the supreme court is really the only branch of power poised to confront one of the great challenges of our time: catching up our laws to the pace of innovation, defending our privacy against the sprint of surveillance. The NSA is “training more cyberwarriors” as fast as it can, but our elected representatives move at a snail’s pace when it comes to the internet. The US Congress has proven itself unable to pass even the most uncontroversial proposals, let alone comprehensive NSA reforms: the legislative branch can’t even get its act together long enough to pass an update our primary email privacy law, which was written in 1986 – before the World Wide Web had been invented.

So the future of our privacy, of our technology – these problems land at the feet of a handful of tech-unsavvy judges. Future nominees to the bench should be quizzed on their knowledge of technology at confirmation hearings. And while many have made the argument that the secret Fisa court should employ a technologist to explain technical issues to the less technical judges, the same can be said of the supreme court. It’s time to get the net already.