Lie Detector Company Threatens Researchers, Draws Much More Attention To Research

from the how-about-a-common-sense-detector dept

Slashdot points us to a story of a lie detector manufacturer, Nemesysco, who apparently was so upset with a report from some Swedish researchers in a technology journal, that they threatened legal action against the journal and the researchers, claiming that they would sue for defamation if the article wasn’t taken down. Since the basic point of the journal article was that the lie detecting technology that Nemesysco was betting on simply could not work, you can understand why they might be upset about it. But calling it defamation is highly questionable.

If the information presented in the article was wrong why not just counter it and point out why it’s wrong? Threatening defamation lawsuits and trying to shut up the researchers just makes it look like Nemesysco has something to hide. And, indeed, true to the Stresisand Effect, the article reports that the researchers have received a lot more attention for their research since the threats were issued: “It was hardly their intention. But since the article was withdrawn, I have received lots of mail and requests for copies of the article. The article would not have been read to this extent if the company had simply ignored it in silence.” Who knows whether or not Nemesysco’s lie detector works, but its common sense detector is apparently on the fritz.

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Companies: nemesysco

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Comments on “Lie Detector Company Threatens Researchers, Draws Much More Attention To Research”

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Ima Fish (profile) says:

I work in the court system so I meet a lot of police and prosecutors who rely on polygraphs. While some are true believers, most realize that polygraphs do not detect lying.

The main use of polygraphs is to coerce confessions. It helps in those situations where police have a fair amount of physical evidence or a perp who knows he did wrong and wants to confess.

After going through the polygraph test, the officer giving test will say that the perp failed and then ask, in a kind and fatherly way, “Do you want to tell me what really happened?”

In a surprising number of instances the perp will give a confession right then and there. (Of course the perps are asked if they choose to waive their Miranda rights before taking the test.)

However, for this entire system to work the general public has to believe that polygraphs are fairly accurate. That’s the main reason polygraph companies are so anal about stuff like this.

FoolsGold (profile) says:

Re: Polygraph Schmolygraph

Bullying is common: It takes place during police interrogations wherein but one of the tools the police can utilize is a voice stress analyzer test.

One of the tools used for bullying in the businessworld is the fees charged by Libel lawyers. This intimidates an editor/publisher even more effectively than the police can.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Whether or not Nemesysco ends up being successful in their legal actions, the researchers definitely could have gone about things better. They admit that the article was “aimed directly at the company’s lie detector patent” and that it was “provocatively-written”. Even the title of the research paper baldly accuses Nemesysco of being charlatans.

Nemesysco shouldn’t be able to sue for libel unless they can show that the researchers purposefully falsified data in order to discredit Nemesysco, but in the same vein, the researchers shouldn’t be throwing around words like “charlatantry” unless they’re ready to prove that Nemesysco is purposely promoting technology that they don’t themselves believe to be effective.

TX CHL Instructor (profile) says:

The only thing worse...

The only thing worse than a lie detector that doesn’t work, is one that does.

Think about it. The only reason most countries don’t have thought-crime laws is because “thought-crimes” are pretty much undetectable and/or unprovable. If there ever gets to be an effective, reliable lie-detector, you can rest assured that governments will abuse the technology. You can bet your life on it.

Frank Speeker says:

this issue has nothing to do with polygraph

The article in question was about a voice stress analysis program that Nemesysco has sold to government agencies and insurance companies in the U.K. Voice stress has been widely tested with results indicating chance determinations, the same as flipping a coin. Research on polygraph has repeatedly shown accuracy of 85-95%, depending on technique and issue. The people writing the article that Nemesysco complained about were not writing about polygraph.

TJ says:

Fair and balanced?

I see from the link provided by Mojo Bone that while the publisher is committed to publishing the alleged charlatan’s response, the article that made the allegation is no longer allowed to be reviewed online. That doesn’t sound like the scientific method I was taught. Maybe the publisher should experience a boycott until they remember their purpose.

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