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
    ThinkCube, 13 Oct 2008 @ 12:03pm

    The Truth?

    Truth in politics is an interesting subject. Dictionary.com describes politics in many ways including using the words artform, maneuvers, opinions and principles. Considered to be the use of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control. The very idea of politics is the science of influencing others to believe what you believe or support your beliefs. Truth by definition doesn't enter this equation. We as a people simply would like to believe or desire that those we elect to govern us would be a truthfull person or at least truthfull to us. Truth is a desire of the people not the candidate when looking at it in election terms. Lying or bending the truth as a method to sway the votes is simply a calculated gamble by the politician. If they are found out they may do themselves more harm than good.

    For sake of arguement though lets say that there was a way to do some kind of lie detection in a debate. Some way that it could be a paraphrased answer rather than just yes or no and measured accordingly. What would you learn? It is said that a lie detector can be beat if the person truly believes what they are saying. I firmly believe that in any given election a candidate firmly believes at that time that they intend to do what they say even though their actions may have telegraphed something different in the past. I also believe that many politicians simply understand the system of give and take. They may have voted one way which was against their public persona but down the road they are then able to pass legislation on something else that maybe more important. On the surface the system seems messy and dishonest but when you dig deep it's much larger system of give and take and some good politicians understand that in order for themselves to get into position to do the good things they intend they have to vote a few times for the other side along the way to get there.

    This is a great time in history where the voting public has at their fingertips the use of the internet as a resource. Of course be careful of the resources and make sure they are bipartisan but get informed. I would have hated voting during the great depression with little to no information except the occasional speech on the campaign trail. You can watch the speeches, commercials and debates all you would like but I urge every AMERICAN to do the research for themselves and vote. I don't care who you vote for as long as you are an informed voter. Don't damage the country by voting party lines while never doing the research on where your candidate actually stands. That goes double for the midwest swing states! Be informed about your vote and feel content that you did all that you could for America in this election.

    This may change how you feel about what I said but I grew up Republican and quickly realized that gun control, abortion and stem cells have nothing to do with running a government. I'm registered Independent because I don't want either party gaining the use of my statistics for any kind of arguement.

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