What If We Put Lie Detectors On Politicians During Debates?

from the it-wouldn't-work dept

It's political silly season these days as we get closer and closer to election day, and with the various campaigns ratcheting up their attempts to win over voters, the inevitable campaign spin reaches the point where the connection between the message being pushed out and the truth often seems increasingly hazy. That is, politicians start lying about each other. Or, if you want to be generous, being extremely misleading in their characterizations. Some worse than others. This, in part, has resulted in the rise in popularity of various "fact checking" sites over the past few campaign seasons, as many people are fed up with campaigns lying and not being called on it.

Some challengers to an Indiana congressman have come up with an amusing suggestion for how to deal with this, with two challengers to the incumbent agreeing to wear lie detectors during a planned debate. The incumbent has refused, with his party chair calling it ridiculous.

Of course, it's all really a stunt to get some press coverage for the challengers. As polygraph experts well know, a polygraph in a debate setting would be useless. Beyond not always being perfectly reliable, polygraphs are designed to work under very specific circumstances, not in a public debate setting, where the results would be entirely meaningless.

Filed Under: debates, lie detectors, politicians

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  1. identicon
    Charming Charlie, 13 Oct 2008 @ 10:32am

    Long gone are the days that any politicians and journalists expounding on politicians have had any sort of integrity.

    Ah, the halcyon days when the press kept FDR's disability a secret from the people, or overlooked Kennedy's infedelity, or parroted LBJ's administration's Vietnam optimism.

    The reality is that for centuries the press erred on the side of cooperation with politicians over burning bridges to print the truth. Today's news is more in-depth and critical than ever, because journalism students of today no longer feel a risk in printing something unfavorable to a politician, or a patriotic duty to ensure consensus. Today, to be popular you need to have the appearance of being critical, otherwise you'll be ignored. This was NOT the case in your imaginary past.

    You may feel journalists have a long way to go as sifters of bullshit, but that does not automagically correlate with them doing a better job in the past. As fact-checking critics of politicians journalists have generally been worse because media access was more limited, and thus patronship imperative in securing access.

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