Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Are 'Lie-Detectors' a scam?

From the Washington Post today: In the popular mind, fueled by Hollywood representations, polygraphs are lie-detection machines that can peer inside people's heads to determine whether they are telling the truth.

The scientific reality is far different: The machines measure various physiological changes, including in blood pressure and heart rate, to determine when subjects are getting anxious, based on the idea that deception involves an element of anxiety. But because an emotion such as anxiety can be triggered by many factors other than lying, experts worry that the tests can overlook smooth-talking liars while pointing a finger at innocent people who just happen to be rattled.

My question is will the new neuroetechnologies that we posted about earlier be any better?


daniel said...

This is a great question, because these new devices will hold even more water in the "popular mind." The question almost answers itself. Wishful thinking and financial incentive are the usual culprits. Double-blind studies--if an honest researcher is chosen--should help. Is neurobiology really so simple you can trap thoughts in a cigar box and dissect them?

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