Developments in Lie Detection


Scientists looking for better ways to detect lies have found a promising one: increasing suspects’ “cognitive load.” For a host of reasons, their theory goes, lying is more mentally taxing than telling the truth. Per­forming an extra task while lying or telling the truth should therefore affect the liars more.

To test this idea, deception researchers led by psychologist Aldert Vrij of the University of Portsmouth in England asked one group to lie convincingly and another group to tell the truth about a staged theft scenario that only the truth-tellers had experienced. A second pair of groups had to do the same but with a crucial twist: both the liars and the truth-tellers had to maintain eye contact while telling their stories.

Later, as researchers watched videotapes of the suspects’ accounts, they tallied verbal signs of cognitive load (such as fewer spatial details in the suspects’ stories) and nonverbal ones (such as fewer eyeblinks). The eyeblinks are particularly interesting because whereas rapid blinking suggests nervousness, fewer blinks are a sign of cognitive load, Vrij explains—and contrary to what police are taught, liars tend to blink less. Although the effect was subtle, the instruction to maintain eye contact did magnify the differences between the truth-tellers and the liars.

So do these differences actually make it easier for others to distinguish liars from truth-tellers? They do—but although students watching the videos had an easier time spotting a liar in the eye-contact condition, their accuracy rates were still poor. Any group differences between liars and truth-tellers were dwarfed by differences between individual participants. (For example, some people blink far less than others whether or not they are lying—and some are simply better able to carry a higher cognitive load.)

Posted on August 20, 2009 at 6:59 AM47 Comments


EdT. August 20, 2009 7:50 AM

Here’s the ultimate lie detector test:

Tie the person to a heavy rock, and throw the rock into a deep lake. Two hours later, haul the rock to the surface. If the person drowned, they were obviously telling the truth. If, on the other hand, they are still breathing, then they are liars and should be executed forthwith.


Craig August 20, 2009 8:18 AM

I think EdT. has nailed it. Lie-detecting has a lot in common with classical witch-detecting, though I suspect witch-detecting may have been slightly more scientifically sound. After all, any woman who can survive two hours underwater without modern diving equipment obviously has to have the Devil on her side.

Mike August 20, 2009 8:22 AM

There is also the issue that some people have a hard time looking people in the eye regardless if they are telling the truth or not. Forcing them to make and maintain eye contact would require a higher load than a person that was comfortable with making eye contact. This issue would skew the results in the same way that not everybody blinks at the same rate (as pointed out in the article).

wofat68 August 20, 2009 8:28 AM

“It’s not a lie if you believe it.” (George Costanza)

From my experience from years of shameless lying: the better you are prepared and the more often you repeat the scenario in your mind the more it becomes a truth in your mind, hence also reducing the cognitive load. I’d say, this way I could trick the detection method. However, the detection may work for improvised lies. When I’m not prepared I suck at lying. Too bad.

RSaunders August 20, 2009 8:32 AM

This seems like a step backwards. We can’t catch liars who are smart, that seems like the kind that cause the most serious problem.

If we could only get spys and terrorist master minds to select simpleminded folks. Perhaps Congress should pass a law setting the minimum blink speed for bad guys.

Johannes Berg August 20, 2009 8:56 AM

I think there’s also a definition problem here.

If I believe in something I’m saying, like some people believe in evolution and others in ID, is one of them lying? Yet they accuse each other of precisely that.

aikimark August 20, 2009 8:57 AM

One of my colleagues is a forensic psychologist (formerly federal, now state). I usually share such articles and research with him. His usual response is that mental illness greatly affects the ability to apply lie-detection techniques reliably.

From the title, I thought the subjects were going to be occupied with some task while being asked questions. Depending on the task, different parts of the brain could be ‘loaded’ preventing the entire brain from participating in lie construction and support.

Maintaining eye contact isn’t enough of a load to make this particular lie detection reliable.

A Nonny Bunny August 20, 2009 9:20 AM

I would be surprised if it is in general true that lying increases the cognitive load. For example, lying about, say, quantum mechanics is a lot easier than giving an accurate account of it.
If the lie is simpler than the reality, cognitive load goes down.

andyinsdca August 20, 2009 9:26 AM

Johnathan Pollard would have beat this method, too, while making a sandwich and translating War and Peace from Russian to Japanese.

It’s crap.

andyinsdca August 20, 2009 9:29 AM

Grr. I grabbed the wrong spy name off the top of my head, so I shall go with a generic “any well trained or intelligent person”

Nigel August 20, 2009 9:32 AM

|”To test this idea, deception researchers led by psychologist Aldert Vrij of the University of Portsmouth in England…”|

  • It was not even close to a scientific “test”… no consideration of false-positives/negatives; no controls, control group, nor fundamental statistical basis.

  • And exactly how does one become a professional “deception researcher” ?

  • Perhaps the Theater Department & Psychology Department should merge at the University of Portsmouth.

hwKeitel August 20, 2009 9:43 AM

i think the most lie detector test are:
“do you know Mr. X?”
– “No”

and not:
“please explain quantum mechanics”
“is God out there?”

but i don’t think that lie detection works very good. some people try to find doping with this tests.

Fred P August 20, 2009 9:53 AM

The main problem with this theory (lie = higher cognitive load) is that it’s really easy to increase your cognitive load. With a bit of practice, it’s pretty easy to fool this sort of lie detection.

The problem with this specific method is that if I’m actually trying to remember something in detail, looking at someone while doing it is very inefficient. I wonder if it can also further contaminate the memory.

Clive Robinson August 20, 2009 10:06 AM

@ Craig, EdT,

“I think EdT. has nailed it. Lie-detecting has a lot in common with classical witch-detecting”

If you are refering to persecution of an individual for political gain then you might be right.

However in general witch tests did not endanger the subject under test, unlike punishments such as the ducking stool or stocks.

There where exceptions during times of civil unrest where persons falsely claimed “lawful authority” that they did not have as a way of leading a quite comfortable life style…

Fmr August 20, 2009 10:26 AM

As a former spook I used this technique all the time with sources, but to deter lies rather than detect them. When you want someone to tell you about something and you want it to be as close to the truth and without exaggeration as possible, give them a task to do while they’re talking: pour the coffee/tea, hold this for me, let’s do a hobby/activity while we talk . . . it builds rapport and cuts out a lot of the garbage info they’d otherwise give. Works for children and employees too.

Sortkatt August 20, 2009 10:40 AM

The test asked one group to make up what happened, and another to tell about a situation they had experienced.

Why didn’t the researchers let all the subjects watch the incidents, then instruct some of them to lie about it?

The results, if they were statisticly significant would show that making stuff up is more mentally taxing than retelling it from memory. They would not, however, show that lying is. As have been mentioned earlier, a good liar can make up a story before he tells the lie, and later retell it from memory. Honest subjects can restructure the story in their heads as they tell it, probably resulting in an increase in cognitive load. This research looks a bit like BS.

bob August 20, 2009 10:41 AM

@Fmr “When you want someone to tell you about something and you want it to be as close to the truth and without exaggeration as possible, give them a task to do while they’re talking:{

Yep it works great!

Clive Robinson August 20, 2009 10:49 AM

There is more than one way of telling something that is untrue…

First just accept there is no such thing as truth just perception. That is for any event X with Y direct observers there are at least Z (=Y+1) actual events that are imperfectly recalled only one which was not observed that is correct.

When you investigate you will be presented with 0.5(Z^2-Z) possibilities only on of which is correct that non of the Y observers actually witnessed.

Therefore you cannot measure truth/falshood just cognition and probabilistic data. That is you are looking at a stochastic process…

One definition for a “Stochastic Model” is,

“A model that recognizes that there could be a range of possible outcomes for a given set of inputs, and expresses the likelihood of each one happening as a probability.”

Another is that it is effectively “Brownian motion” which has an implicit side effect, of each particle having a random moment within the bounds but a generalised movement of all particles to reach a uniform overall state (thermodynamic laws anybody?).

So you should ask the question of if you are better concentrating on an individual or the overall perception you obtain from the group of individuals. In all probability the latter course of action is best, you can then give weight to each individuals story by how much it is at variance with the overall perception (which unsurprisingly is what the Police tend to do).

Which would tend to suggest that if you want to lie, then simply tell the truth but with an altered perspective. After all it’s what all the other witnesses are doing and what is expected by those who are seeking to approximate “the truth of” the event.

Providing you stay within tolerable limits then you have a story that is not only believable but less unbelievable than those of other witnesses. Give you three guesses as to where the lightning is most likely to strike…

Then there is the issue of what is a lie or as some people put it a “deliberate falsehood” the assumption of the test is that you devote more cognitive effort to maintaining a fiction.

This is known to be completely untrue, something like 60% of the population delude themselves all the time as a matter of “self protection” living within a social setting (white lies etc etc etc). Something like 20% of people exhibit psychopathic traits where the truth to them is what they decide and no further cognitive effort is expended. Another 20% of the population exhibit Autistic traits of poor social communication they usually tell the truth but without any social niceties which tends to make them appear to be lying if not asked questions correctly.

So I would expect the results of any such tests to be tolerably within random if the tested population is a genuine representation of the population at large (which it very probably was not).

The fact that they claim that there are differences makes me think that the subject group was either to small or selective.

RH August 20, 2009 11:11 AM

I forget the name of the guy who said this (one of the fathers of lie detectors), but ” ‘Snow is white’ is a lie if the speaker knows damn well it ain’t so.”

Also, didn’t Mythbusters debunk this technique? It caught everyone but Grant. Grant took care to try to some some rather troublesome open ended moral delimas during the control questions.

anon August 20, 2009 12:04 PM

An old story I once heard. When interviewing a suspect, they placed a metal colander on his head. The colander was attached by wires to a copy machine and in the copy machine was a sheet of paper that said ‘He’s lying.” Whenever the suspect made a statement they believed was false, they pressed the copy button. The suspect, believing the lie detector was real and working, admitted to the crime.

casey August 20, 2009 12:21 PM

I do not think that you can test a lie detector. Simply asking someone to lie is not the same activity as lying for your own reasons. In order to test the latter, you would need a pre-existing lie detector to prove you newly invented lie detector works. Also, if the accuracy is not greater than 99.99% it isn’t going to be worth very much (unless you intend to intimidate someone).

paul August 20, 2009 12:45 PM

Seems to me that pretty much any research on deception that’s done with more-or-less normal volunteers is going to have very limited applicability in the real world. People who aren’t good at lying will mostly have learned that fairly early in their lives, and will act accordingly.

You could do deception research with either with accomplished liars who weren’t very smart or with an experimental design that had enough twists that the subjects couldn’t figure out on the fly how to game it…

Brad Conte August 20, 2009 12:59 PM

How does hold up when a subject “trains” for the interrogation?

If I had to undergo something like that, I’d just go an appropriate location, clothe a couple people appropriately, and imagine at length the scenario in question being performed that mock setting. Then when it was firmly in my memory, I’d simply pull from that memory when subjected to questioning.

My guess is that sort of thing would work pretty well.

bob August 20, 2009 1:40 PM

@wofat68, Johannes Berg, RH: The definition of a lie as I was taught: telling an intentional untruth. If you believe something to be true and you tell it to someone else, then it is not a lie; even if you are not correct. Contrariwise if you tell someone something you believe to be incorrect, then you are lying – even if you were wrong and it is true. “To lie” is a verb of action on your part, not a static state of abstract fact.

@casey: Exactly. Even mythbusters’ “penalty” for lying wasn’t sufficient in that regard.

Based on several decades of social interactions, I have decided that I apparently don’t come across as very truthful (but you probably don’t believe that). I suspect that, as an engineer to my very core, I am always straining to be as exact as possible in my descriptions or answers and people take my noticeable pauses and my eyes moving around while I search for the exact best word to describe something (complicated by my ever decreasing memory abilities) as me struggling to make something up.

@Brad Conte: Ahh, like a wedding rehearsal…

Roy August 20, 2009 2:06 PM

The premise that lying causes a heavier cognitive load than telling the truth is an untested assumption. Where’s the evidence? (Speculation doesn’t count as evidence.)

How many remember from school days the teacher sarcastically saying, “The answer’s not written on the ceiling!”? Mike has a good point about eye contact. This requirement will confound the results.

There would be a higher cognitive load in giving an accurate answer (as bob noted), compared to an unthinking sloppy answer. Somebody trying hard to cooperate would ‘show deception’ compared to somebody who is mocking the procedure.

social anxiety disorder August 20, 2009 4:19 PM

As someone with social anxiety disorder, I’m very afraid of being put into a situation where someone is trying to tell if I am lying, even if I’m not. I mean, it took me years to not break into a sweat and go flush just ordering food at a restaurant. I still sometimes sweat when buying liquor even though I’m 30.

RH August 20, 2009 4:28 PM

@bob: Good point. I believe the original quote I used was to point out the fallacies in using lie detectors in criminal suits. Its too easy to assume that a criminal (a witness very close to the scene of the crime), when his ability to lie is revoked, will give you the truth. Too easy to forget that telling the truth is not actually the opposite of lying (which I believe was your point).

Where’s a Fair Witness when you need one?

Shane August 20, 2009 4:56 PM

‘Lie Detection’ is about as ludicrous a psuedo-science as astrology, and should be really be condemned as such.

That the states even have a choice in admitting polygraph evidence into the courtroom is as scary (stupid?) as allowing your horoscope to be used against you while on trial.

KC August 20, 2009 9:19 PM

So… if you blink more slowly, it shows your cognitive load has increased, because you’re lying. If you blink more quickly, it shows you’re nervous, because you’re lying. How wonderfully exploitable.

Clive Robinson August 20, 2009 11:42 PM

I guess from the comments the overall view of posters is,

“Telling lies is like any other skill, the more practised you are at it the less clumsy you are, therefore the lower your chance of droping the ball”.

Also there is an undercurrent of,

“If you are a good at telling lies then you are also better at spotting them”.

However the “skill” is only one part, feeling that somebody is not telling the truth and proving it are two separate activities.

I guess it is why we have expressions like “caught in a lie”

As I noted earlier the easiest way to tell a lie is to tell the truth but from a different perspective. The nearer your story is to what appears to have happened the less chance you have of being “caught in a lie”.

There is of course another skill that comes in handy, which is “to talk without saying anything”.

That is to be practised at procrastination 😉

One way to do this is to ask questions not answer them in a way that appears to answer the original question. Simplistically,

P1 : Did you take my lunch from the fridge?

P2 : Why on earth would I do that?

The cognitive load in now put back on the person doing the questioning to come up with a reason.

You can also add in a little misdirection with a statement that is true but not actually relevant,

P1 : Did you take my lunch from the fridge?

P2 : You know I have my own lunch so why on earth would I do that?

You can also use it to sow a few seeds of redirection and look like you are being helpful,

P1 : Did you take my lunch from the fridge?

P2 : You know I have my own lunch so why on earth would I do that?

P2, pauses long enough for P1 to start changing mental tack then : Did Richard bring in a lunch today?

Which works against somebody who is not skilled at asking questions.

You can of course tell (to a limited extent) how skilled somebody is at asking questions by how long it takes them to respond or not to respond to being mis/re directed.

The skill to asking questions is to develop a low key informal manner and get somebody into a pattern of answering questions to which you already know the answers then slip in the odd low key question where you don’t know the answer and ask it again later in a different way to see if the answer is the broadly the same.

The hard part in asking questions is not giving away what you do and do not know and what you are trying to find out. If the person being questioned works this out it’s game over for the questioner.

Of course being good at asking questions is not the same as being good at listening to the answers, this is a related but different skill.

Which it is why it is useful to have two people interviewing one good at asking questions one good at listening to answers. The person doing the listening is generally in charge and indicates the direction in which the questioner should go.

As the person being asked questions you should appear to be friendly and helpful but disturb not just the tempo but the flow of the conversation and if you can it’s direction.

There are various techniques to do this one is to play “opposites” that is be passive when the questioner is aggressive and aggressive when the questioner is passive. It is a bit like catching a large fish on a weak line you have to let them run then draw them in then let them run again. It breaks their tempo and wears them out.

But the hard part is learning to let your body talk for you. There are various figures given about the level of non verbal communication but some put it at over 80%.

One of the big give a ways is when someone appears “hinky” that is their body language and what they are saying do not appear to be in sync.

This is a problem when talking to one fifth of the population who have “social communications disorders” (Autistic Spectrum Disorders). Often their body language and manner is considerably at variance with social norms which makes them appear hinky. Also because they do not tend to pick up on social norms and body language their response to questions can appear completely of the wall.

Unfortunately figures from the British Autistic Society show that an ASD child is four times more likely to be excluded from school as a non ASD sufferer. This figure however does not show why this happens ie, is it because their lack of social communications skills gets them into more trouble, or does their lack of social communications skills stop them talking their way out of trouble.

The other problem with “hinky” behaviour is that some people just don’t show it. Various studies have shown that the better you are at social communications skills the more likely you are to be successful in life. Other studies have shown that these “successful people” score quite highly on tests for Psychopathic traits. Something like one fifth of the population show these tendencies.

It would therefore be easy to imagine a bell curve with severely Autistic behaviour on the left and extreme psychopathic behaviour on the right, with three fifths of us sitting in the middle.

You would therefore expect a mixture of behaviours as you approach the mean, with a persons base position determined by their intrinsic social communications skills with a variation depending on a persons skill level at not telling the truth moving them to the right. This right wards movement could potential be measured by their socio economic position within their base demographic.

This may in turn give rise to the observed effects that smart/rich people don’t get caught whilst dumb/poor people fill our jails…

Winter August 21, 2009 12:49 AM

Although proving someone lies is faltering even at the definition of “lie”, you can, sort of, proof whether someone has certain knowledge or not.

So, if the suspect claims that he never was at the crime scene, or never met the victim, you CAN proof him false using behavioral (reaction times) and brain imaging techniques.

You simply show him (90+% is him) the place or person in some kind of line-up of known and unknown places/persons and ask to say yes or no. You will find a very clear (timing) effect when the denied scenes come by. Obviously, each item can only be used ONCE.

These techniques are extremely sensitive. And it is immediately obvious if you try to subvert them. There are horrible logistic problems with this technique, so it is not as practical as it looks.


عقار August 21, 2009 1:46 AM

This research is still good but there are not good at detecting lies, in the hope that this research is evolving for the better

Clive Robinson August 21, 2009 2:00 AM

@ Winter,

“You will find a very clear (timing) effect when the denied scenes come by. Obviously, each item can only be used ONCE. These techniques are extremely sensitive.”

There are many many problems with this. The first is quite simple to explain.

I ask you if you know person XXX, you may truthfully say you don’t even though you do actually know the person…

This is because XXX is a label or pointer that can and frequently is changed. The obvious ones are Stage / Vanity / Nick names. Another that frequently crops up is when people do not use their first given name but another given name.

As an example Joseph William Smith, may well call himself and be known by many simply as Liam. If you are asked do you know a Mr J Smith or Mr Joseph Smith or even Mr Joseph William Smith you may well answer no as you have little or no reason to make the connection.

Likewise with photos of people. How often have you seen a photo of a “glamed up Z lister” and recognised them, but not recognised a photo of them when they are not “glamed up”, instead have the feeling they are someone you vaguely know personaly?

Then there is the very common problem of paramnesia / promnesia and hyperdopaminergic action in the mesial temporal areas of the brain, that can be caused by the combination of anti-viral and common drugs used for things like flu, or even food supplements such as artificial sweeteners, beverages and herbal remedies ( or many many others ).

One of the things that has not been investigated and may be a real issue in the near future (Swine Flu) is what effects do anti-viral and other over the counter non prescription drugs in combination have on peoples mental health.

If it is just limited to some short term / long term memory issues giving rise to such effects as Deja Vous whilst taking them, then it might be acceptable but what about other effects…

cheap plonk August 21, 2009 6:08 AM

Clive Robinson is more than one person.

I mean, c’mon, he’s gotta be that or he just reached his 700th birthday.

Roger August 21, 2009 6:54 AM

The real reason this research is useless:

There may be a whole bunch of reasons, but the killer is the key word “fewer”. Fewer (blinks) compared to what? Well, compared to a control subject doing the the same test, but not lying.

In most scenarios in which a lie detector would be useful, no second witness is available for comparison. In those scenarios in which two witnesses are available, their emotional experiences of the event are so different (e.g. one is what we term “the victim”) that we cannot reasonably use them as controls for each other. When two witnesses have very similar emotional experiences but at least one wishes to lie (e.g. they are what we term “the accomplices”), then usually both wish to lie, and if asked to give different stories for comparison, they will just offer a greater variety of lies.

In short, even if this test was highly reliable — which it isn’t, but just supposing here — then the circumstances in which it could potentially be used are so artificial that in practice it would be very nearly useless.

Clive Robinson August 21, 2009 8:57 AM

@ cheap plonk,

“I mean, c’mon, he’s gotta be that or he just reached his 700th birthday.”

As far as I’m aware there is only one of me that posts here (but atleast 15 others with my name in the UK in related fields of endevor and I’ve shared a beer or two with three of them).

As for my age lets just say if Bruce’s online Biogs are true I’m a little bit older than him (but I’ve been assured by some one who has met both of us I look younger than Bruce 😉

Mind you Although nearly 2m tall and looking like a bear on a bad hair day surprisingly many people have met people they think are me…

And I have two friends who actualy have been confused as me, one by a passport officer the other by my other halfs parents…

bob August 21, 2009 9:31 AM

Clive Robinson: (another) pseudonym for Lazarus Long?

I find that a lot of people do not remember things as well as I do. When I start a conversation with “do you remember when you (did/said/saw) something…” and they say no; I am pretty good at finding something memorable about the event and bringing it to the forefront of their memory (the downside is – my brain is apparently full already from all this nauseating level of detail storage and I have found it difficult to learn new things once I turned 40). So they said they did not remember AND they were telling the truth at the time, yet they did actually remember when given the right retrieval trigger.

(tangentially, when I would try to get my [then] wife to remember stuff using this technique, she would say I was accusing her of lying; even though over the 18-year run of our marriage I was able to get this to work 95% of the time over probably ~500 occurrences. Apparently she didnt remember that either.)

Similar to the 50’s TV serial Perry Mason where every week for years Hamilton Burger, the DA would accuse Perry of some sort of mopery and dopery early on, yet in the final scene he would be shown to be right. I think after the 6th time [nevermind the 73rd time] I accused him of lying and was publicly humiliated for it I would stop accusing him and start maybe figuring he knew some stuff).

Davi Ottenheimer August 21, 2009 11:14 AM

Excellent comments above.

When I read the study it seems to boil down to the statement “those with cognitive load are more likely to be liars”.

Beware the cognitive loaders.

They could be anywhere. Someone near you might be thinking about something difficult right now. What a liar.

dpawtows August 21, 2009 2:51 PM

@casy- You don’t quite need an existing lie detector to verify another lie detector. For testing purposes, you just need scenarios where you know the truth, the witness doesn’t know that, but does have his own reasons to lie. Enough tests will give you an idea of the lie detector’s accuracy, and then you can go out and use it for real.

Clive Robinson August 21, 2009 8:47 PM

@ bob,

“Clive Robinson: (another) pseudonym for Lazarus Long?”

You have given me a thought….

A pseudonym hmm…

It’s better than an anagram (the best I’ve heard on my name fo far is “No evil nob risc”)

But “The Moderator” would probably accuse me of being a sock puppet it I tried splitting my posts up under several pseudonym just to stop being accused of being multiple me’s (minie or not 😉

With regards memory yes it can be a problem.

I used to read something like 400 pages of A4 info a week (data sheets and the like) and could recal almost instanly which page in which paragraph in which file box the info I needed was via visual ques. As a design engineer it used to give me an edge.

However back in the fall of 2000 some youth in Richmond College (London) attacked me from behind one morning by karate kicking my head into a lamp post (full fracture of the lower jaw and memory loss / imparment, taste/smell imparment etc).

Whilst being lucky to be alive I unfortunatly now have odd cognative problems where I get repeated deja vou events and I’ve lost my dyslexia coping abilities amongst other minor problems. However by far the worst from my point of view is reading technical information, it starts giving me a serious migrane after a page or two.

(Tangentaly the partial solution to this problem is to read it out aloud into an audio recorder and play it back hearing it a couple of times apears to get further around the mental block, why I have no idea. But I’ve lost the “visual recal ques” which makes remembering where the technical info is oh so slow these days.)

But according to my other half I still have “Those two anoying habits” which have got worse (with old age)…

The first of remembering what I have said to her and she to me and reminding her when she has forgoton (apparently I do it a lot more than I did so maybe I’ve lost being “tactfull” as well).

And the second and by far the most grevious sin of the two as far as she is concerned, is “being right all the time” (oh and reminding her when she has changed her mind ;).

It’s odd though I’m only right some of the time you’ld think she’d remember when I was wrong but she dosn’t, and If I remind her I was wrong it just annoys her even more than if I was right and I get told to “stop being smug about it” so no you can’t win either way.

Moderator August 22, 2009 1:37 PM

“‘The Moderator’ would probably accuse me of being a sock puppet it I tried splitting my posts up under several pseudonym just to stop being accused of being multiple me’s…”

I probably should, but since it takes about five words to recognize your prose style, it’s hard to take a name change seriously. Is it a sockpuppet when it’s completely transparent? A pantyhosepuppet, maybe.

Clive Robinson August 23, 2009 1:25 PM

@ Moderator,

“Is it a sockpuppet when it’s completely transparent? A pantyhosepuppet, maybe.”

In the UK we call them “stockings” or “tights” and many a bank robber has hidden behind them to good effect over the years.

sysan August 25, 2009 7:03 AM

I had heard an NPR radiolab story on liars which has relevance to the above. There was a neuroscientist interviewed who had designed an experiment to measure brain activity in normal liars vs. pathological liars – the hypothesis being that liars might exhibit less brain activity, as presumably, some part of their brain isn’t working, thus preventing the normal “moral” functions which are a load on normal liars.

Surprisingly, they found significantly more activity in the brains of pathological liars – in particular they appeared to have a great deal more use of their white matter.

Put another way, pathological liars have brains more suited to generating the ad hoc flourishes on seed concepts which result in lies.

This potentially means the “check for load” concept only really applies when you know you’re dealing with a non-pathological liar.

On the other hand, it is worth considering that this may also be a feature of folks who create content on the fly with some frequency, such as verbal story tellers and effective debaters.

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