How a Cellphone-sized Truth Detector Could Save the World

I originally wrote this fictional story in May 2014, but it seemed appropriate to resurrect it today when we’re being bombarded with lies from our presidential candidates. Wouldn’t it be nice if, because we had a foolproof way of vetting their statements, the candidates were forced to tell us the TRUTH? Wouldn’t the TRUTH be invaluable in deciding which candidate deserved our vote? And wouldn’t it be refreshing if the media had no choice but to report the news truthfully and accurately?

The truth COULD set us free.

This is a fictional story about how a truth detector the size of a cellphone came to be.

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Checking out the Honda Civic

Let’s get something straight right away, I don’t know how the darn thing works so don’t bother asking me. I’m just the messenger, telling my story as best I can. You can take it or leave it. I just want to record what happened before the details slide into the dark corners of my memory and they’re lost forever.

It started when I stopped at a Honda dealership to scope out a car for a friend’s daughter. He asked me to check it out since he knew that I’ve been a car-nut all my life and his automobile knowledge didn’t extend very far past just operating one.

There were a few customers scattered about the large lot. Some were being assisted by salespeople, others were just kicking the tires on their own. After successfully working my way through the high-priced, high-profit models up front and finally arriving at the lightly-used stock, I finally found the silver Civic that Ed had asked me to check out.

I figured to do a pretty exhaustive review for him. He was a good friend and I felt honored that he asked for my opinion. I’d already decided to take notes and present him with a detailed report patterned after the ones in the auto mags. Complete with other info gathered from the Internet, it would blow him (and his daughter) away.

The Civic looked like new. Nice shiny paint, no apparent exterior damage, nice wheels and almost-new tires. So far, so good.

Scanning down the driver’s side sheet metal to see whether I could spot any dents or dings that weren’t obvious, I noticed a guy a couple of rows away. No reason for him to warrant more than a casual glance … except that he was holding and aiming what looked like a gun. That woke me up.

As it happens, I’m also a gun-nut and am more conscious of threat awareness than your average non-gun-nut citizen. In fact, there was a Ruger LCP in my right front pocket at that moment (I do have a Concealed Carry License).

Oh crap, it’s about to hit the fan,” I thought. Even though you mentally plan for occasions like this when you become be a hero because you thwarted some evil-doer in his dastardly plot, when it’s real, everything changes.

I eased back around the front of the Civic so the bad guy couldn’t see me and started down the next row towards him. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t lose him if he decided to move. I had the little Ruger in hand in case that became necessary.

I could now see that he seemed to be more intent on the gun than the target, constantly looking up at his target, but immediately looking back down at the gun. That’s when I got a better look at the gun. It didn’t look like anything that I was familiar with – most gun-nuts can identify popular handguns at a glance. This one was different – very different. As I got closer, I could see that it was larger than a MAC-10, and was beginning to look more like a nail gun than a firearm. What the hell was I seeing?

He still hadn’t seen me. I was closing the distance between us. He was oblivious to anything except his target and his weapon. I was now close enough to place the Ruger’s laser dot right on him. If he shot, so would I.

What do you say at a time like this? I said the only thing that came to mind, “freeze motherf’er, you move, you die!

Ok, so it was a little melodramatic, but I wanted him to STOP. I didn’t want to shoot, but I didn’t want him to shoot either. So, there you are, that’s what I said.

He froze. Thank God.

I do think that he “relieved” himself (without intending to) and as he turned, I could see that his face was ashen – I’d just scared the pee out of him. He dropped the “gun” and begged, “please don’t shoot me.

Hootie, the shooter

He certainly didn’t look like your prototypical bad guy. In fact, he looked more like Alfred E. Neuman of Mad Magazine fame. Crouched down and hiding behind a white Toyota, he looked more like a pervert caught hiding beneath someone’s window.

I’m not going to shoot you as long as you don’t do anything stupid.” That didn’t seem to register until I lowered the Ruger and he began to recover his composure.

What the hell are you doing, and what is this … thing”?

I can’t tell you. But, I wouldn’t hurt anyone. It’s not a gun. It’s just something that I am testing.”

Well, if he wanted to play that way, so be it. “That’s not good enough, dude. I’m going to call 911 and let the cops figure out what you’re up to.” The cell-phone came out, 9, 1, …

Wait! Please don’t do that, I’ll tell you, but you have to keep it a secret. It’s a laser temperature probe.”

Yeah, right.”

So you were aiming it those people looking at the black Accura? Whose temperature were you taking … the guy? The woman? The salesman? What’s the deal, you get off on taking remote rectal temperatures?”

Ok, ok, it’s not temperature that I’m measuring, but you must promise not to breathe a word to anyone about this, ok?

I’ll give you a provisional ok, if your story makes any sense.”

It’s a truth detector.”

Huh. What better place to test a truth detector than a car lot I thought, “You’re going to have to do better than that, there isn’t any such thing.”

The fear previously occupying his face gradually changed into a wry grin.

Not until now. Please, it has to remain secret, no one can know about it.”

He slowly picked up the device and carefully slipped it into a black soft-side case. He seemed to get a grip on reality once the thing was safely out of sight. I slipped the Ruger back into my pocket.

It really is a truth detector, it can evaluate a person’s truthfulness as they’re speaking. I’ve done all the testing I can do in my shop, I need to test it on real people to fine tune it. That’s why I came here. I was checking the salesman’s sales pitch to that couple.

And so your machine found a car salesman who lies? Big deal.”

No, actually most of what he was telling them was true.”

And how can you verify that your gadget’s verdict is right or wrong – you’d have to objectively check out each of his statements.”

Exactly, and that’s what I’ll do. My ‘de-fib-ulator’ captures high quality video and audio of whatever I’m aiming at and stores it along with recording multiple laser scanning measurements. Later I’ll check out each statement for accuracy. So far, it is extremely accurate.”

And you can tell, on the fly, whether someone is lying?

Well it’s not quite as simple as a needle pointing to ‘lie’ or ‘truth,’ but substantially yes, I can interpret the values on the onboard screen and determine the accuracy of a statement – on the fly.

Uh oh, a salesman is coming our way, I’ve got to go.

Wait, I guess you’re not a serial killer, but I’m not quite ready to rule out the police. Let’s go back to my car and I’ll aim the detector at you and we’ll see if you’re telling the truth. If you’re on the level, you can go.

Fair enough, but let’s go quickly.”

I waved off the approaching sales guy and headed back to my car, my new found inventor friend in tow.

Back in the car, inventor-guy was happy to describe some of the features of his “defibulator.” It had a shotgun microphone capable of picking up conversation a football field away, a zoom telephoto lens for video and a trio of laser beam emitters that (somehow) read brain activity and captured the measurements to the onboard chips and from there into an internal computer. It also had a small screen on top.

Everything he explained past those first few details degraded into static – I just didn’t understand the physics or the engineering or the computing, so I finally just stopped him. He probably could have gone on for days spouting the scientific breakthrough that made it possible.

He loosened up a lot. Finally, after months of secrecy, he seemed almost relieved to let it out. He had given himself permission to tell someone how beautiful his baby was. He was proud of his invention and couldn’t wait for the accolades. He would be rich and famous. The world would beat a path to his door.

If he lived long enough.

Unlike some egghead inventors, he was practical enough to realize that there were some evil people out there; people whose very existence depended on lies and distortion. They depend on subterfuge to get their way and would do anything to maintain the status quo – including dispatching a young nerd inventor to an early grave.

Inventor-guy (he said his name is Hootie) began to orate. I say orate because he was no longer just talking, now he was preaching.

It’s unfortunate, but lies have become a part of the fabric of everyday life. We’ve become accustomed to commercials lying to us, salesmen lying to us, politicians lying to us, even our president lying to us, and we’ve been beaten into submission. Now, we just accept lying as part of ‘normal.’ No longer are lies grievous sins, we’ve improved their status to mere ‘mis-speaks.’”

True dat.

But Hootie, lying is so ingrained, you’ve got literally no chance to change it. Your ‘truth-o-matic’ will be viewed as just another lie detector, and lie detectors are known to be unreliable. I doubt you’ll ever get the chance to prove its accuracy – that is, assuming that it really is accurate.”

You don’t believe me.”

I guess I’m just so used to having people lie to me that I take most of what I hear with a butt-load of salt; no offense.”

Ok, I see. But, let me challenge you to a test. Let’s meet somewhere private tomorrow and I’ll ask you some questions and tell you where you’ve told the truth and where you lied. That way, you can judge whether the “defibulator” works or not. How about it?”

Tomorrow was Sunday and I didn’t have anything pressing on my schedule so I agreed. We decided to meet in a remote parking lot of a high school nearby. That should be private enough.

Fine, but one final question. Why are you trying to convince me? You don’t know me from Adam and you’ve already let the cat out of the bag. Why challenge me to a test?”

“One, because I need help and I need to know whether I can trust you and two, because I need more live subject testing to adjust some parameters. It’s as simple as that.”

He asked my name and address and although I was a little leery of giving him the information, he convinced me that he needed it to check me out – and to formulate some questions for my test.

I get grilled (medium well)

Hootie was already there and waiting when I pulled up. I still hadn’t decided whether he was a genuine genius or some kind of kook. I decided to “shoot” him with the device before I let him “shoot” me with it – just to be on the safe side. He agreed and gave me a few simple instructions.

“I’ve set the parameters so all you have to do is aim it at my head and pull the trigger. That’ll start recording. When you’re done, pull it again and it’ll stop. While you’re recording and aiming it at me, watch the middle line on the display. As I speak, it will vary from below the baseline to above it, depending on the truthfulness of the statement. Above the line shows a truthful statement, below it indicates that I’m lying. Got it?”

We decided that I’d sit in the car to keep the device out of sight and he’d stand about ten feet away. Now just aim, squeeze the trigger, and watch the bouncing ball.

Is your name Hootie?”

He answered “yes.” I immediately noticed the middle line drop down to the bottom of the screen – whoa, a lie, already?

Hold on dude, this thing says you’re lying.”

He grinned. “And I am. My name is really Hoover. Hootie & the Blowfish was just the first thing I thought of yesterday when you asked me what my name was. One of their tunes was playing at the dealership when we met and that’s where I got the ‘Hootie.’”

I grinned back, “cool.”

Next question: “Does this thing really work?”

Yes, it does.”

The moving middle line arched upwards and pegged at “true.”

Damn, that’s impressive.”

Satisfied that the thing wasn’t shooting out lethal death rays, I was ready. “OK, my turn.”

We swapped places and Hoover retrieved a notebook which apparently contained the questions he was going to ask. “Ready?

“Yeah, go for it.”

It was apparent from his questions that Hoover had done some research on me. Some of his questions surprised me in their depth and detail. He had also asked that I intentionally lie every now and then, but otherwise, tell the truth as best I knew it. After twenty minutes or so, he signaled that we were done.

Ok, I’ve got enough data, let’s analyze it.”

He laid the device down on his knees and opened a side door exposing a larger screen and some buttons. He started playing our interview back and began to point out the moving green dot and the magnitude of its deflection, it was superimposed over the video recording of my face. “See the dot moving upwards towards 100% when I asked your name and you replied truthfully.”

Ok, so far so good. But, I answered the first three questions truthfully, lets move on to the fourth one – about my job.”

The defibulator did show questions two and three to be truthful and damn if it didn’t identify question number four as a lie. Although the dot didn’t extend fully to 100% false, Hoover explained that it also calculated the magnitude of the lie, and that one showed I only lied “a little” (about 50%).

He had asked if I managed Elrod’s Tire store on highway 183 and I answered “yes.” Actually, I’m the assistant manager, but I really do manage more than the actual manager who is essentially worthless. I explained that detail to him and he said he understood and blamed insufficient preparation for the inaccuracy.

He knew that in order to be 100% accurate in this early testing, he needed to establish a baseline of truth and falsehood to compare against when the computer did its evaluation. He’d just skipped the several questions that it normally took and only asked about my name and address. He cut it short and the accuracy suffered. Lesson learned.

We went over the remaining questions and in every case (except one) the defibulator was 100% accurate. It caught six lies and correctly saw the other questions as truthful. The one question that was just flat wrong was when he had asked if I’d been in the Air Force for three years, nine months, and thirteen days. I answered “no” since my active duty had been for three years, nine months, and fourteen days, not thirteen. Looks like a problem.

He said that his information came from government records and they were supposed to be accurate. I told him that I would need to check , but I was pretty sure.

[Later, when I checked my DD-214, I found that he was right and I was wrong. All these years I’ve been wrong about my actual service time by one day and some stupid machine had to point it out. Defibulator one, me zero.]

Hoover seemed pleased that the test had gone fairly well and he made some notes in his journal to identify some adjustments to his settings.

I’d kept quiet while he made his notes, not wanting to interrupt. After his final entry, he turned and looked directly at me.

“I have a proposition for you. As I said, I’m worried that someone may try to steal the fibulator or do me harm. And I also need help in doing additional testing and I know that you’ve been a researcher before. I’d be willing to hire you as a combination bodyguard and assistant, if you’re interested.”

That took me by surprise. Getting in on the “ground floor” of what could be a life-altering invention was an idea that intrigued me. “Let me think about it. Would I have to quit my job at Elrods?”

“Yes, you would. But I know what you make there and I can offer you a 30% increase and I’ll fund an attractive benefit plan for you as well. We’ll sign a one-year employment contract. At the end of that year, we can renew your contract or go our separate ways. I expect that I’ll be ready to go public by then.”

“Are you sure that you can pay me and fund your development too, you must have some source of income.”

“I do, my dad left me fairly well off when he passed away so I can afford it. Not to worry.”

We discussed a few more details about where I’d work and what I’d be expected to do (besides bodyguard duties) and it was apparent that he’d given it considerable thought.

We parted with the idea that I’d contact him the next day with my decision. I wanted to carefully consider the pros and cons. After all, I really didn’t know much about this guy or what the chances were for his invention to be truly successful.

It could be a real opportunity, but I’d be throwing away three-years of longevity with the tire shop to become a bodyguard, a job for which I wasn’t really qualified. I’m a big guy and certainly qualified with a handgun, but no qualifications other than that. On the other hand, the idea did have merit, and I could be part of something that could change the world.

Later that evening, after a lot of thought, I decided to call him and ask if I could visit his “shop” before making a decision – I wanted to gauge what his capabilities were. I thought that just seeing the equipment and tools would give me some indication of his commitment and seeing the building itself would also tell me something. I just needed some reassurance.

Hoover seemed to be pleased that I called. He gave me some rather detailed instructions on how to find his shop and invited me to visit him the following afternoon.

Welcome to the Batcave

I found Hoover’s building easily enough. It was a nondescript single-story concrete block building in an industrial area. You could drive by it a hundred times and never even notice it. It was an ideal super-secret laboratory.

I chuckled to myself that we hadn’t established a secret knock or a password, but jabbed the doorbell button anyway. I noticed that there was a peephole in the door and imagined that I could see Hoover standing on tiptoe, peeping through it, checking me out.

A minute or two later, Hoover opened the door and welcomed me. He seemed genuinely glad to see me. “Welcome to the Batcave.”

I followed him through what were probably reception and office areas for previous tenants and through a door into his “shop.” There were several unidentifiable mounds covered by tarps and blankets (machines I guess). I didn’t know if they were left by a previous tenant or something that Hoover didn’t want me to see.

He stopped at a small table and motioned for me to sit down. “You have questions.” It came out as a statement, but he was really asking for my questions.

By this time, I’d compiled a long list of questions – so I began to unload on him.

 “Frankly, I think that it’s impossible to tell when a really accomplished liar (a professional politician, for example) is lying.”

“And how can you differentiate between a little harmless fib by a six year-old child and a real whopper told by a candidate for president without changing a lot of settings on your device?”

“How could you identify a false statement if the speaker really believes it? What if someone fed false information to the speaker and he or she doesn’t know that it’s false?”

“How can a device see what is in a person’s heart? How can it possibly recognize deceitful intent?”

“Whoa, whoa, one at a time, easy big fella. I’ll explain the concept as simply as I can.”

Hoover knew it was going to be an uphill battle.

“I’m taking advantage of new studies into an area called “decision neuroscience.” I’ve developed a way to parse out the complexity of thinking into individual components, and in the process, intercept and measure the variation between brain activity when processing truthful facts and the activity during the statement in question. My process requires three lasers that operate at different frequencies and capture the transfer of activity between sections of the brain at the time of a response or statement.”

“That’s as simple as I can make it.”

“Ok Hoover, I still don’t understand, but I’ll accept that you do. Where do you expect to go from here?”

“I need more testing to fine tune some programming subroutines and once that’s done, proceed to miniaturization. There’s no reason that the fibulator can’t be brought down to cell-phone size. Of course, that will limit the range, but everything should still work out to 75 or 100 ft or so.”

“Are you serious? A cell-phone-sized lie detector?”

As the words came out, I had a fleeting vision of a crowd holding up their fib-u-phones, pointing at a candidate for the Senate and booing in unison. They’d already identified several of his statements to be lies and were calling him a lying sack of poop. Wow, that could catch on.

“Yes, so far there is no reason that I can’t bring it down to that size. The problem is the audio. The lasers are already very small and the camera is no problem. A couple of terabyte chips the size of a fingernail can handle both recording storage and programming. It’s all very doable.”

“You do know that Obama is going to be here for a fundraiser and rally in two months, right?”

He grinned from ear to ear and nodded … he knew.

He did voice some concerns about the equipment being able to handle as accomplished a liar as Obama. Would he “fry a circuit,” or might one of the software routines commit softicide by going into a loop? The software was only designed to identify a statement as being a 100% lie – the extent of some of Obama’s whoppers deserved 150 or 200%.

A lie detector and Obama together at last – a match made in heaven.

As Sherlock Holmes would say, “the game is afoot.”

News at eleven

We spent the next week working over the device to make it look like a shoulder-held commercial video camera. People were accustomed to seeing the cameras at public events and a disguised fibulator wouldn’t be seen as out of place.

Hoover had acquired press credentials (he apparently had connections) so we could attend public gatherings and act as if we were covering the event for a media outlet. I would be the camera operator and he would be the talent.

The following week we “covered” a local bank opening (with a speech by the bank president), a press conference covering the release of a new Ford hybrid, a plant expansion for a battery manufacturer, and a press conference called by the Democrat candidate for a state house seat.

What an eye-opening experience. I’ve always been a skeptic. I expect little truth from most fellow humans. But, when you really know the extent of the lies that bombard us daily, it comes as a real shock.

Following each event, we went back to the Batcave and analyzed the recording. Each flagged mistruth had to be checked out and verified to determine why it was flagged as untrue. Hoover had access to information to an extent that I didn’t even know existed. We could get into many local, state, and federal agencies and otherwise protected databases not usually accessible to the unwashed public. We had access to lots of factual data so that verifying most statements was not difficult.

Since it was sometimes necessary, he also maintained a retainer with a major law firm whereby he could e-mail detailed questions and get back a solid legal opinion. This was especially necessary when parsing the rhetoric contained in political speeches. Politicians often relied on shading the truth or spinning facts as a way to influence voters, especially regarding laws or proposed legislation. It took a trained eye with an understanding of legal jargon to navigate hundreds of pages of boilerplate to pin down the real intent in the legislation. The average voter remained at the mercy of the speaker’s rhetoric.

The previous week had won me over. As we checked the statements and verified the fibulator’s verdicts, it became more and more obvious that Hoover was onto something. The damn thing was really working!

The bank president had been mostly truthful, but shaded the truth a little when he touted the bank’s introductory rates and their record of loan approvals, and the bank’s slogan “we simply LOVE our customers” didn’t pass muster either. His “lies’ were minor; not really substantial.

The Ford hybrid apparently won’t really get 47 mpg as claimed and the price he quoted wasn’t accurate either. It was probably an artificially low figure to get attention. The spokesperson said it would be available on September 1st – another untrue statement.

The additions to the battery plant wouldn’t really yield 50 new hires and the company’s financial condition was shaky, not excellent as the plant manager stated.

I wasn’t prepared to change the way I thought about these untrue statements. We couldn’t identify what the truth was, only that a statement was untrue. It would require many more questions to home in on what the truth actually was. Like what the gas mileage on the hybrid really is or exactly how many new employees the battery plant really expected to hire.

But those events paled in comparison to the Democrat candidate. We identified so many falsehoods it was almost unbelievable. Lie, lie, lie, lie – we stopped counting at twenty-two lies (in twelve minutes). Yet, not knowing any better, some who heard him could be swayed by his words and vote for him – assuming him to be truthful – and that’s the pity.

After only two weeks, I was hooked. I began to imagine how the truth could change the world.

Never again would an innocent person be jailed, sent to prison, or even worse … executed. We could begin to believe in advertising again. Spouses couldn’t get away with infidelity and candidates for office would be forced to tell the truth. Identifying illegal aliens would be easy (and legal) and most lawsuits would settle out-of-court or die away. Criminal trials would take a day or two instead of (some) taking months. The list is endless.

When you stop to think about it … like Kelly Bundy said in Married…With Children, “it wobbles the mind.”

We become the 3D police

While Hoover and I continued scheduling and covering several public events each week and development continued on the defibulator, we began preparing for another project: a news flyer, called “The 3D View.” The three D’s being Deceit, Deception, and Distortion. The publication would follow guidelines specified by the law firm to support a defense in the event of libel or slander litigation.

The idea was to flood an area with a publication that would be similar to the “fact checking” operations, Snopes or FactCheck.org.

Each article would identify who made the statement, when and where it was made, what was stated, and substantiated facts detailing why the statement was a lie.

Initially, it would be a two-sided single-page handout that could be quickly and easily disseminated throughout a targeted area. We’d hire high school kids to pass them out on the street and tape them to apartment and residential doors. Hoover already had pricing for racks that could be placed in restaurants and fast food locations. That would follow the hand distribution.

Since secrecy was still paramount, Hoover asked me do the hiring. I’d hire three employees and house them in a small one room office in the downtown area.

We’d need a writer/editor, a Photoshop artist/printer, and a distribution manager. We’d send encrypted information to the production crew via a private network. They would take the digital data and massage it into an “article.” After formatting the articles to fit front and back, they’d print it, and get the finished product to distributors. The handout would be available almost immediately following the deception since it was produced entirely in-house.

Hoover would make the sole decision regarding what info was published. It was conceivable that there could be a new issue every couple of days, or even every day if enough high-visibility lies were available. We expected the initial production to be 1,000 to 2,000 flyers for each issue.

The Rollout

The plan was to build “buzz” slowly, establishing credibility until it achieved enough activity on social media to become a popular topic of conversation.

When enough people began to notice, some would begin to clamor for the 3D View to “fact check” some individual or company suspected of bending the truth.

Nominees for evaluation would have to be vetted to determine the likely veracity of their statement(s) and how difficult verification would be. We wanted the most bang-for-buck out of our coverage.

We expected the buzz to grow exponentially from a neighborhood, to an area, to citywide, and then outward to other cities. One day, it would become a topic of discussion on talk shows and then something would pop up on the network news, and when enough people believed that such a device existed, the clamor would go national.

When the time is right, Hoover plans to grant an exclusive interview to some high-visibility personality (like Oprah or Leno) as his first national exposure to the public. He needed the credibility and publicity that a celebrity would bring to the table.

It really wasn’t far fetched. Hoover could easily convince the personality that the device really did work and that breaking that kind of news to the public would result in the celebrity’s name being forever linked with the invention of the century.

We expected to have a large catalog of untrue statements (especially well-documented lies by public figures) at the time of the interview. We’d dribble them out, ten or twenty at a time, on a website over a period of a couple of weeks following the interview – just to reinforce the validity of the device and to maintain chatter. The law firm would be prepared to vigorously defend the inventor and his company.

And then, hopefully at the peak of excitement, Hoover would entertain discussions with cell phone manufacturers.

One can only imagine how much Motorola, Samsung, LG, Nokia, etc. would be willing to bid for rights to produce Hoover’s device.

Imagine a phone, only slightly larger than an iPhone, that could spot a liar plying his/her trade!

Instead of “talk to the hand” it would become “talk to the phone.”

The aftermath; the times they are a-changing

Of course, there’ll be fallout – but good fallout.

People could still lie, but the specter of getting caught would throw cold water on lying as a profession.

With that thought in mind, we predict that somewhere around 90 % of Congress (4-500 or so) will decide that the time has come to retire. They’ll say that they’d been planning to spend more time with their family anyway. They’ll swear that the timing is purely coincidental and say how much they were looking forward to being an ordinary citizen again … yeah … right.

Many local and state government officials would scurry for the same exit.

It’ll even affect our social interactions. I can see it now – a guy tries to pick up a girl at a bar by telling her that he is a big-time Hollywood producer. She whips out her phone and says “smile, and say it to the phone.” Producer-guy knows better than to say anything to that damn phone. He slinks away, shot down and embarrassed.

He makes a quick exit, gets into his pea-green 1976 Pinto (‘cause his Ferrari’s “in the shop”) and goes looking for a “phone-free” bar or a woman who’s not carrying a concealed weapon (a lie-detecting phone). Better luck next time, Numb-nuts.

Even education would be improved. Kids would think twice about skipping classes, teachers (and college professors) wouldn’t want to be caught pushing their personal political agenda, and we could reward the good teachers and dump the bad ones.

Seemingly unrelated things like health care would be less costly if physicians didn’t have to cover their rears by ordering unnecessary tests and procedures. Simply being able to establish the truth could produce real reparations for true malpractice while holding harmless a doctor who did no wrong. Even doctor’s diagnoses would be more accurate if a patient answered questions truthfully.

Business would become more profitable. Employees hired would really have the qualification and experience listed on a resume. Employees would interact with customers honestly and customers would benefit. Products or services could be expected to do what they’re described to do, and (get this) we’d be able to depend on advertising and commercials to be truthful.

Shrinkage (employee stealing) would disappear and employee performance reviews could benefit both the employer and the employee when strengths and weaknesses are honestly addressed.

Good employees could be rewarded as their true value to the business became apparent and those not pulling their weight could be released safely. Human Resources would become an honesty-testing entity instead of a cover-your-ass department.

And think about how elections would be affected.

Few bad candidates would bother to apply if they knew that they’d have to run a gauntlet  and would be held to account throughout their term of office. Squeaky-clean candidates would be proud to stand for election knowing that their honesty would be appreciated.

Political debates would be worth watching if an instantaneous “LIE” icon could be superimposed over a candidate’s face when he or she stretched the truth. Going forward, negative political ads had better be factual or they’d backfire – big time. When a candidate claims to have served in the military – that better be true. If you say that you ran a successful business – it better be true too. If you say that you support the Second Amendment and are anti-abortion – know that a lie will “set you free” (to find other employment).

How would that affect political races? Let me count the ways!

Wouldn’t it be great to elect someone we could trust? A President, a Senator, or a Representative that had earned our confidence and who wasn’t in it for personal gain, but to actually help the country, state, or city? A man or woman who spoke frankly and honestly to their constituents would have their full support, even if it meant cutting services or raising taxes – because we’d know the truth.

Consider the interaction between political parties, between House and Senate committees, or between the President and Congress. Beneficial negotiated agreement becomes possible when lies, posturing and payoffs to campaign donors aren’t part of the equation.

It won’t be painless

To be sure, there will be a period of adjustment when the professional liars will try to avoid confrontation with “truth-detecting” devices, but in the long term, it won’t work. Avoiding a confrontation is self-incriminating in itself. Eventually, they’ll be spotted, identified, and ostracized before fading into oblivion. Some will maintain that the device is falsely accusing them, but proof will show otherwise.

The accomplished liars won’t go easily. They’ve worked hard for years polishing their craft and changing won’t be easy. There’ll be a time of turmoil and confusion when the truthful and the deceitful are still intermixed in our population, but the deceivers will gradually be identified, and in the end, either change their ways or seek out a cave and become a hermit.

And the world will be a better place.

Seriously …

Here’s a question: WHY haven’t we yet developed a real, 100% accurate method of identifying falsehoods? I maintain that a device capable of accurately identifying lies would solve so many of the world’s problems that it would be more life-altering than discovering fire or the wheel.

If we can put a man on the moon, if we can develop driverless cars, if we can send high definition images around the planet to be viewed by anyone with a hand-held $100 device, why can’t we invent a real true lie detector?

I don’t think we’re trying hard enough.

 



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8 replies

  1. Wow, I don’t know where to begin… There was in the nineties a phone, a land-line, that you could buy and it did exactly that within a probability giving a reading of truth vs lying. A tax lawyer I worked with had one which he used whenever speaking to government agencies and IRS officials. Obviously, tech that old wasn’t as good as it could be or will be but its’ failings were the same then as they would be today. The problem is, a pathological liar, for instance, isn’t detectable because they believe the lies they tell; and, one’s emotional state can skew the data as well. Moreover, use of that kind of technology smacks heavily of Orwell’s 1984 and of the more recent, “Minority Report”. No, I can’t agree that developing such technology and relying on it would ever have a good outcome for liberty especially in the hands of the government. Imagine being accused of something you know you didn’t mean or do (out of context), and data from an artificially intelligent source condemns you, but because it’s not human you can’t challenge its’ veracity or conclusion. Imagine further that you need to avoid being discovered by an out of control government that is searching for, let’s say, Christians because religious liberty has been outlawed and you speak out under the radar against it,,,NO THANKYOU!

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    • Talk about being a spoilsport, wow is right. To begin with, it’s just a fictional story of what COULD be and you want to rain on that parade? Are you just naturally a negative “glass half empty” kind of guy?

      So, continuing to rely on notoriously undependable eyewitnesses, fallible forensics, and hackable electronics is preferable? Don’t you think that the government can have an impact and influence on our current systems – is that a reason to discard them? I don’t think so. I’d prefer to think that we need to continue to make things better.

      You can’t possibly believe that fingerprints or DNA are infallible – they aren’t. Using your logic, we shouldn’t even have bothered to develop them (because the boogeyman government could subvert their usage).

      If you don’t believe that a real lie detector could be a boon to mankind, you have no confidence in the human spirit and are willing to accept that we just have to live with lying – no thanks, I’ll continue to have a more optimistic view of what we humans can and will do – and we shouldn’t have to tolerate lying because we’re afraid of our government.

      We’ll probably never completely eliminate lying, but not even trying is no solution at all.

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  2. “…why can’t we invent a real true lie detector?”

    Sadly there are many flaws in this dream, Garnet. They say sociopaths are able to beat lie detectors because they don’t have the same physiological reactions that normal people do when they lie. It just comes too naturally to them. I’m guessing there are many among the Left’s elite that would be in this group, including the Liar-in-Chief and Hillary Clinton.

    But since we’re dreaming, let’s invent something that simply makes it impossible for people to lie. Imagine what a different world it would be if we never heard anything but the truth.

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    • Hey, it is a fictional story! Your comment prompted me to do some additional research on the issue of a REAL lie detector and I’ll post it in a day or two. It IS my dream to see a real lie detector, though I’m sure that I won’t live to see it.

      The technology CAN happen, the bigger problem is whether it can ever be allowed to exist given the political ramifications. Can you see Hillary ever supporting a real lie detector? I think not. And, as in the story, the full weight of our political parties would be dead set against it. One inventor, in his/her garage or basement, inventing one would be committing suicide by allowing its existence to become public knowledge.

      I’d love to see one, but realistically, evil people will prevent it from becoming a reality.

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  3. Nice read, Garnet!

    But I think the technology is unavailable. Perhaps blatant lies could be exposed, similar to current lie detector technology. But not the shaded truths, the subtle distortions, the exaggerations etc.

    Still nice t imagine, isn’t it?

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    • Yes, it’s unavailable today, but not so far into the future, it’s not impossible. You are correct that it will be lawfully acceptable within specific limitations when it comes, but that’s a start.

      It is my dream. We’ve become too accepting of lies, that needs to change.

      Like

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