[FOUNTAIN]Science now an art of lies

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[FOUNTAIN]Science now an art of lies

The history of lies goes back to the beginning of mankind. Adam and Eve were the first ones to lie, followed by Cain. While God has a quick eye for lies, it is not easy for humans to see through them. So men have come up with all kinds of means to detect lies.
The first man to distinguish truth from lies in the Bible was King Solomon, the wisest of men. By ordering a baby to be divided in half, he found out who the real mother was. Indians have an age-old lie detection method called “God’s donkey.” A donkey is painted with lampblack on its tail and put in a dark barn. Suspects are ordered to pull the tail of the donkey and told that their hands will become dirty. The culprit is the one with clean hands because he would not have pulled the tail.
Ancient Koreans used to have suspects chew raw rice and spit it out. A liar was determined based on the amount of saliva on the chewed rice because your mouth gets dry when you lie.
Westerners have developed a lie-detecting device. Italians were the first to come up with such an instrument in 1895. The machine measured changes in blood pressure, heartbeat, respiration, and voice to detect lies. Along with other advancements in science, lie detectors have improved.
Today, the confidence level in lie-detecting devices is up to 95 percent. In fact, among 3,034 suspects examined by polygraph in the process of investigations from 1980 to 1998, the court decided against the polygraph test result just once.
However, you can deceive the polygraph by intentionally holding your breath or stimulating a certain body part, pressing your elbow on the armrest, for example.
The machine cannot tell the difference between an involuntary response and a deliberate action. According to a survey, people in professional careers, especially those in the financial field, were good at fooling lie detectors. In other words, professionals are skillful liars.
The scientists who became national heroes through their stem cell research are now blaming one another and asserting different theories. Someone must be lying. However, even a lie detector would be useless with experts who are good at lying.
There is an ancient Korean tale about three bundles of lies dropped by the god of the netherworld. A gisaeng, or woman entertainer accompanying men at drinking parties, got the first bundle, and a politician and a middleman at the market took one each.
And yet, there must have been four bundles, not three. The lying scientist must have picked up the last one.


by Lee Hoon-beom

The writer is the head of the JoongAng Ilbo’s weekend news team.

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