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back to article Will there ever be a real 'Lie Detector'?

Lie detectors figure prominently in the sauciest dramas, like espionage and murder, but they deeply polarize opinion. They pit pro-polygraph groups like the CIA, the Department of Energy and police forces against America's National Academy of Sciences, much of the FBI, and now the US Congressional Research Service. The agencies …

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Dangerous...

Do the fools behind this realise that dangerous consequences of their research?

What is our obsession with going beyond every level of common sense and humanity to prevent crime?

Having once worked in local government, the anti-fraud measures are so ingrained into the system that they cause a loss of efficency comparable to a medium level theft every year. False economy?

We are obsessed with stopping crime, and there is no dangerous boundary that the 'defenders of the faith' will not cross. These are the Dr Strangelove generals, people possessed of a over zealous belief and total confidence in an incorrect world view that causes them to act horrifically and without reason. They stop crime, but they also strip the colour from our world. Look at the culture of bureaucracy that permeates society at the moment, with fines levied for swearing and traffic violations, while the police become increasingly powerless to protect people from real crimes.

If this research is allowed to gather momentum, it will not be stopped. The ignorant Charles-Clarkes and David Blunketts of the world will jump on the back of this, and will violate more freedom and do more damage to society than criminals ever will.

I am not a Luddite or a techno-fear reactionary, but research in this area of the brain is very dangerous indeed, and is a line that common sense should inform us that it should not be crossed.

(But who says that common sense is, eh?)

We have the right to lie, our society is ordered in such a way that it is impossible NOT to lie. You might despise your boss, but you pretend that you like him. Yes, honey that dress does make your derriere look a bit on the large side!

In the attempted annhilation of crime, there is no line that the 'authorities' fear to cross. However, in a world where even our thoughts could be open to inspection, would you want to live in this world?

I've gone off on one a bit, but like I say, this is a dangerous path to go down, and there might be no turning back.

I hope you are ok, thanks for listening.

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Lying polygraphs

Would be nice if daytime television shows - that conduct Trial by Lie Detector on people whose marriages and other relationships may already be rocky - would take note of what junk these things are.

What amazes me is that no false-positive victim has yet sued one of these damn shows - or if they have, that this information is kept quiet. Certainly there seems no apparent doubt among the audiences of these fly-on-the-wall inquisitions that the condemned are guilty as charged. While the squirming of the unfortunate accusees are presumably entertaining, they may also - after the show - be the cause of battered women, unwilling single fathers, or otherwise devastated individuals whose lives have been ruined, having done nothing to deserve it bar failing to control their physiological responses when asked distressing questions.

CD

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Anonymous Coward

What's wrong with fines for traffic violations?

Craig Hall, what's wrong with having fines for traffic violations? Do you think people who commit traffic crime should have no punishment at all?

You say police should stop "real crimes", but there are far, far more people killed every year by bad driving than by murder or manslaughter.

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Silver badge

Just a thought...

Whilst I agree with Craig Hall's comments, there is a certain attraction to the idea of applying lie detectors in a "top down" configuration, starting, say with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.

"We have no plans to introduce..." BUZZ!

"This project has a confirmed budget of...." BUZZ!

"These proposals will make the country safer..." BUZZ!

"I have no plans to resign as Prime Minister..." ....

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Nothing wrong with fines for traffic violations...BUT

Anon : ...just putting things into perspective that's all.

You are right, nothing wrong with fines for traffic violations, but surely you see now that they are prosecuted with an efficiency that would have brought a tear to the eye of old Himmler himself, while muggings, robberies and burglaries aren't quite policed so effectively.

Surely you have noticed that the bureacracy is never inefficient when its about to take your money!

There is also a big difference between someone who drives drunk, and someone, who in the case of my mate, accidentally rolled 40cm over the stop line at the traffic lights, and got a £60 fine. If I was a copper, I would have let that one go, but the copper was being a jobsworth about it.

Chris : The lie detector can easily be tricked, if you know the physiological and physical methods by which it works. An educated person is likely to know this, however, like most of these talk shows, I'm willing to bet this is not their target group for participants. Bet you get candiates for Jerry Springer on there! :)

Why would anyone be so fucking stupid to risk having their dirty laundry aired on TV?

Its a curious psychological phenomenon, this confidence problem. This is the problem, so many people believe it works, that if the lie detector says yay, good luck proving nay.

Graham : LOL, here's an improvement, instead of BUZZ, how's about a nice 240v electric shock? :) That way we could get some entertainment, and the top brass could find out what rendition feels like :)

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Enormous missed opportunity

The idea that if something is not 100% reliable then it must be worthless is laughable except when it comes to lie detectors. I therefore suspect people just don't want to be caught out lying.

If we routinely lie-detected all possible suspects and then concentrated on those that had 'problemmatic' readings we would get a lot further with crime detection than we do now. Admittedly some people can lie their way to clean readings and some innocents get caught but no-one has developed those ideas to explain why it's just rejected out-of-hand.

It's the same with DNA databanks, RFID chips etc. People are not protecting freedom. They are worried they are going to get caught doing things they know are illegal.

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Beat them

On three occasions, I've "gamed" a polygraph. I was trained to practice biofeedback using one. Take a minor tranq like lorezapam, wiggle your toes, sniffle. All techniques that will cause problems.

I know of people who have actually "flat lined" a polygraph.

dillon

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RE: Enormous missed opportunity

"If we routinely lie-detected all possible suspects and then concentrated on those that had 'problemmatic' readings we would get a lot further with crime detection than we do now. Admittedly some people can lie their way to clean readings and some innocents get caught but no-one has developed those ideas to explain why it's just rejected out-of-hand.

It's the same with DNA databanks, RFID chips etc. People are not protecting freedom. They are worried they are going to get caught doing things they know are illegal."

GAH!!! What you forget is just how lazy your average human being happens to be. Why bother going through all all of that tedious detective work? No need to check alibis, figure out motive, analyze clues, etc. Just use the magic techno-bullet to finger the criminal.

What's that? Oh, the lie detector fingers nearly 10% of every group as potential suspects worthy of further grilling? Well, they should be happy to be grilled for days just to catch that nasty murder/rapist/grafitti artist. What's that? We keep dragging in the same 20 "suspects" day after day because they happen to:

1. be nervous around police officers

2. live in an area where murders occur

In the USA, that would essentially mean dragnets for all the folks living on the poor side of town.

The reason I hate this stuff is because it gives petty little bureaucrats the power to endlessly harass folks who didn't do anything wrong.

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wow

"If we routinely lie-detected all possible suspects and then concentrated on those that had 'problemmatic' readings we would get a lot further with crime detection than we do now."

By Mike Stephens

Um ok so what about the guy that is a pathological liar ?? What happens when he passes the test and some poor joe slob is so nervous he fails the test? What accuracy do you want %90 %80 %70

the reason why its reject is cause its hard to create an identical controlled variables. Unlike DNA which is done the same way, every time you do a lie detector test its done slightly differently. there is to much of the human variably involved in the equation.

"and some innocents get caught"

I refuse to subscribe to the theory its better to grind a few innocent up to protect society.

Oh and RFID can easily be tricked

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