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Techniques Behind Lie Detection and The Evolving Hunt For The Truth

Techniques Behind Lie Detection and The Evolving Hunt For The Truth

Wednesday 4th January 2023

That humans lie is nothing new. In fact, lying probably started at about the same time as the ability to communicate. Throughout history humans have lied with the same amount of enthusiasm and it is now quite clear that lying is an integral part of our lives with no sign of losing its appeal.

There are almost as many reasons for lying as there are lies. Sometimes just harmless little white lies, other times catastrophic lies that shake the foundations of civilisations. We lie to protect ourselves from the truth and to avoid consequences and punishments for wrongdoing but at the other end of the scale we lie simply to please others.

How are lies detected today?

Our very survival has often relied upon being able to tell the truth from lies and from the very first lie we have struggled to tell the difference. Today we have advanced logical sensory equipment capable of monitoring body changes with remarkable accuracy, which when used in conjunction with advanced interrogation techniques allow us to detect lies. The equipment which does this is known as the "lie detector" or polygraph to give it its official name.

But that's today, how did early civilisations cope with porkies. How did they know if someone was lying? In those days lie detection depended very much on cultural and religious background. Coupled with this was an understanding of wordly things and practical experience. These were the only tools of early lie detection.

How were lies detected previously?

Evidence when required could only be collected by way of sworn oaths and testimony which of course could quite easily be more lies. Eventually more objective techniques such as measurement, forensics, and the scientific method were employed by Archimedes, and during the Scientific Revolution centuries later.

As today, in those early days observing and judging a person's behaviour, facial expression, and speech was, and remains one of the ways of discerning guilt from innocence, and deciding whether someone is lying.

However, in the period of classical and other human civilisations before the middle ages, lacking objective techniques, trial by ordeal was often applied testing unfortunate suspects in confounding and sometimes violent and often deadly ways.

So just how was the truth ascertained by our early ancestors? Well, in China a suspect or the accused would be made to chew dry rice whilst being interrogated. When the rice was spat out they were assumed to be guilty if the grains stuck to their tongue. The logic behind this was that stress created a dry mouth.

In 500 BC, priests of ancient India had a much more technical method for detecting lies and would soot the tails of donkeys and put them in dark tents. The suspected thieves were advised to enter the tent and pull the tail of the donkey. If the donkey brayed, the accused's guilt would be confirmed. If the accused left the tent with clean hands free of soot, the priests would know he had not pulled the donkey tail out of fear of being revealed a thief. It's quite surprising that our judicial system doesn't favour this technique.

Fatal lie detection techniques.

Trials by ordeal were a common means of detecting guilt from innocence, although they were barbaric and violent tests revealing nothing of truth or lies.

These were ancient judicial practices where the accused was subjected to dangerous perils. Death would indicate guilt, and survival suggested innocence. Fortunately trial by ordeal was eventually forbidden by the Roman Catholic church and replaced by the inquisition trials which were torture to combat heresy. An example of this was the Spanish inquisition which as a judicial institution that lasted between 1478 and 1834 ostensibly to combat heresy. Its brutal methods led to widespread death and suffering

As the search for the truth continued, various trials by ordeal, such as trial by fire, poison or snake were utilised. The fire ordeal required suspects to walk across coals or red-hot iron or retrieve stones from boiling water. In Iran trial by fire was the ultimate test of an accused because the innocent were said to be protected by the judicial divinity Mithra.

In the 16th and 17th century the "ducking stool" became popular and was used in witch hunts. The accused would be submerged in water and unsurprisingly after several minutes would die. It was assumed a crime would weight heavily upon the accused and drown them. If they were innocent they would survive. However, with most things, this method of lie detection and ordeal progressed and in later witch hunts those who sank were considered innocent and those who floated considered guilty and executed. Not a win win situation by any means.

Modern methods of detecting lies and crime rely on forensics, science and psychological and physiological evidence often compiled using a polgyraph, popularly known as a lie detector. The polygraph works by detecting autonomic arousal - heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and skin conductivity. Through extremely accurate monitoring the polygraph is able to measure changes in stress, such as those which come about through lying.

As we advance further in the field of lie detection it may well be that using Magnetic Resonance Indicators we will be able to see into the very minds of people and judge with great accuracy whether or not they are lying.

And there you have it - The truth and lying over the ages. If you have need of lie detection services we are here to serve you and whether or not you opt for trial by ordeal. sooted donkey tails, chewing rice, fire ordeal or the plain old ducking stool we can help.

On the other hand, you may opt for the polygraph test, carried out by one of our friendly, concerned well trained professional examiners.

The choice really is yours. . . . . .

If you would like more information regarding how we could help you to detect the lies that are preventing you from moving on with your life contact our dedicated Customer Support Team today on 0800 774 7268, or visit us online.