“The Future of Lying”

Chris Summers of BBC News reports. Excerpt:

As the British government unveils plans to make lie detector tests mandatory for convicted paedophiles, some scientists in the US are working on more advanced technology which might be better equipped at detecting deception.

Imagine the Pentagon equipped with a machine which can read minds. Sound like the plot of a Hollywood thriller?

Well, it might not be that far away.

The US Department of Defense has given Dr Jennifer Vendemia a $5m grant to work on her theory that by monitoring brainwaves she can detect whether someone is lying.

She claims the system has an accuracy of between 94% and 100% and is an improvement on the existing polygraph tests, which rely on heart rate and blood pressure, respiratory rate and sweatiness.

Her system involves placing 128 electrodes on the face and scalp, which translate brainwaves in under a second. Subjects only have to hear interrogators’ questions to give a response.

But the system has a long way to go before it replaces polygraphs, which were invented almost a century ago and remain a tried and tested system of deception detection.

BBC reporter Chris Summers fails to note that while the polygraph may be “a tried and tested system of deception detection,” it has failed the test of scientific scrutiny. In its report, The Polygraph and Lie Detection, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences likened polygraph practitioners to a shamanistic priesthood.

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