Monday, February 1, 2010

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

So, this is a bit overdue... my brother-in-law who happens to be "in law" sent me a link to this lecture at Harvard Law School (of course the lecture was a few weeks ago, which is why this is overdue).  Anyway, the lecture was about how there will likely never be an MRI based lie detector test that will be readily admissible in court because lying is a complex process that involves many different areas of the brain... mostly because there are many different types of lying (e.g. a well rehearsed lie vs. a lie you make up on the spot, or a lie you feel guilty about vs. one that you don't).  Anyway, I was holding off on posting about this because I wanted to write up a post about how polygraph machines (aka "lie detectors") aren't reliable at detecting deceit (which is why their results are currently inadmissible in many US courts).  However, since it will likely be a while before I get to write up that post, I will simply link you (through the Harvard link) to an article about what functional brain scans are revealing about how we lie (namely that we use many different parts of the brain to do it).  If you want to see how unreliable polygraphs are, for the time being, I suggest you check out the episode of Penn and Teller's "Bullshit" where they covered the topic pretty well.  And, in the meanwhile, here's another article about fMRI scans being used in legal cases.

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