Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

Take with a pound of salt

As StumbleUpon user patoloco has astutely remarked, the “symptoms” of deception described on this page actually — not unlike the now-discredited polygraph — most effectively detect stress, which sometimes correlates with deception. I would recommend finding some other means of confirmation before using this page to diagnose deception; otherwise you are likely to do an injustice that will incur understandable resentment by branding as a liar someone who is stressed for entirely different reasons.

Also, there are at least two common conditions that would lead to false results using so primitive a guide. Socio-/psychopaths are the most obvious of these, for they are natural liars who can look you straight in the eyes with every indication of guileless relaxation as they utter the most monstrous of dissimulations; worse, they are quite capable of studying articles like this precisely in order to learn to be better liars. However, an opposite misinterpretation can occur with people who have Asperger’s and related autistic-spectrum conditions: Since such people don’t typically meet their interlocutors’ eyes, and often display various other oddities of speech patterns and body language, they are often unfairly suspected of lying.

Ultimately, no “lie-detection” system is reliable other than that which no web page can confer: knowing your interlocutor. To its credit, the article forthrightly confesses this; even so, it may offer more disservice than service. Ultimately, people are too diverse, too disparate to be judged from any static list of symptoms, and any attempt to do so can only lead to injustice.

Originally published as a review of a article on detecting lies by observing behavior.

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