Monday, February 26, 2007
From reason.com: Most of us think that we're pretty good at identifying liars. However, a lot of experimental data says that we're wrong. Most people can distinguish truth from lies at a rate no better than chance. Not even professionals, such as cops and judges, do much better. Of course, humanity has been ceaselessly seeking the fool-proof lie detector, ranging from thumbscrews to polygraph testing.
With regard to the latter, the National Academies of Science issued a comprehensive report in 2003 on polygraphy that concluded, "There is essentially no evidence on the incremental validity of polygraph testing, that is, its ability to add predictive value to that which can be achieved by other methods."
A machine that could reliably identify the neural correlates of truth and deception would be the ultimate lie detector. Now a couple of American companies are claiming to be able to do just that. No Lie MRI in Tarzana, Calif., and Cephos Corporation in Pepperell, Mass. use fMRI scanning to uncover deception. No Lie MRI asserts that its technology, "represents the first and only direct measure of truth verification and lie detection in human history." Both companies say that their technology can distinguish lies from truth with an accuracy rate of 90 percent.
The New Scientist cites the case of a No Lie MRI client, Harvey Nathan, whose deli burnt down in 2003. His insurance company refuses to pay him because of suspicions that Nathan may have set the fire himself. In order to prove his innocence and thus collect his insurance money, Harvey had No Lie MRI scan his brain. The result? The scan says Nathan is innocent. No word yet on how impressed his insurance company is. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]