Liecatching

Since we’ve been hitting lie detection recently, I thought I’d point out that according to a brief communication in a 2000 volume of Nature (May, vol 405, abstract here, full text here if you can access it), people who have acquired aphasia (an impairment in the processing of others speech, leading to difficulties in comprehending spoken language) are better at detecting lies. The case the authors make is that the brain redresses damage to the circuitry that underpins language ability by boosting the recognition of non-verbal behaviour. This more sensitive detection (which isn’t merely better processing of the information in the voice, but depends on using facial cue information) allows a superior level of ‘lie-detection’ – which in this study was confined to recognising emotions that models (the people being viewed – effectively the stimuli for this kind of study) are trying to conceal.

Using patients as some kind of high-falutin sniffer dog isn’t particularly appealing. But the finding lends itself to some great hard-boiled noir…

“I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. But this guy’s a liar.”

It’s also a fun conundrum for philosophers of semantics, no? An entity that can evaluate whether something is true or false without accessing its content. And they’re a bit more real than zombies.

2 Comments

  1. Posted January 31, 2005 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Aha! Sounds like the ‘Less is More’ effect to me

    http://www.idiolect.org.uk/notes/archives/cat_psychology.html#000199

  2. Posted February 1, 2005 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    Well, technically they wouldn’t be assessing the truth of a statement, but merely the sincerity of the person uttering it. So it wouldn’t really be philosophically problematic. Certainly interesting though! :)


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