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Detecting Lies

From chewing rice to scanning brains, the perfect lie detector remains elusive

smithsonian.com

Social psychologist Charles F. Bond Jr. of Texas Christian University is unconvinced. Bond believes the wizards are mere statistical outliers—the eventual result of testing thousands of people on the same task.

"They presented the fact that a small number of people did well out of a huge number of people who took the test, as evidence that those people had a special skill, "says Bond, whose argument was published online recently in Law and Human Behavior. "If a lot of people play the lottery, someone wins."

Before government and legal agencies begin consulting these wizards, Bond would like to see outside sources conduct additional tests on them—a measure of validity that O'Sullivan says is now in the works.

But even with additional tests, perfection will have to wait until the next generation lie detector. To date, says O'Sullivan, nobody has scored perfectly on all three tests.

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