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Lie Detecting the Mediasphere: The Scoop on RealScoop

Theofanis D. Lekkas, a longtime Zenpundit reader who comments here occasionally under the handle “TDL“, is in the process of launching a fantastic Web 2.0 start-up, RealScoop.com, currently in Beta. In a nutshell, it’s a mediacentric Youtube mashed up with a voice-stress analyzer lie detector. Any celebrities or politicians you love, hate or love to hate ?  See what topics send them off the Richter Scale.  A few examples:

Senator Barack Obama

Vice President Dick Cheney

Former Governor Eliot Spitzer

And on a lighter note, Tom Cruise on a deranged rant about psychiatry

This is all in good fun and I wish Theo every success with RealScoop.com but there are interesting implications if this platform were to become as ubiquitous as is youtube or yahoo. Imagine, being a politician or public spokesman and knowing that your every word simply isn’t going to be parsed but run through a voice stress analyzer and transformed into a virally formatted visual clip. How would that change your media strategy ? Your deposition strategy? Being a laconic, strong, silent type might actually come back into style.

TDL may have hit on something here. Feel free to send him any comments when you peruse RealScoop or leave some here – he’s interested in your feedback.

10 Responses to “Lie Detecting the Mediasphere: The Scoop on RealScoop”

  1. Mithras Says:

    Clearly, Obama’s home state is not really Illinois, because it says that statement is "highly questionable." Also, Cheney lies, but that much?

    Voice stress analysis might be a valid technique if you have established a baseline for that person and can control the conditions under which they are questioned. Applying it to media clips of politicians giving speeches or interviews is silly – it registers anything that’s emphasized as "stress".

  2. Fabius Maximus Says:

    If voice stress analysis works, then its use on politicos will be a trivial effect.  More significant will be the changes forced on businesspeople and professionals, like salespeople ("this car is a bargain") and teachers ("your child is a pleasure to teach").  

    But the effect on the family could be revolutionary, as husbands, wives, and children all lie (pick your own examples).  Just as the automobile had cultural effects far beyond its role in transportation, this could re-shape society.

    But does it work?  There is a long history of unsuccessful truth-testing mechanisms, from trial by ordeal through polygraphs.

  3. zen Says:

    Hi Mithras,

    Right now, not knowing the proprietary tech behind the "believability meter" I’d say this voice-stress analysis is more appropriate for entertainment purposes than anything else, though, as Fabius suggested, many ppl will be tempted to try and catch their immediate circle in white ( or other) lies.
    RealScoop, from what TDL has related, is just in Beta and is tinkering with the format and functions and soliciting feedback. The final iteration may be somewhat evolved from what you saw here.

  4. strategist Says:

    Dick Cheney didn’t come out of that interview well, whether or not you believe in the reliability of the ‘voice stress analyzer lie detector’. His prophetic insight about the consequences of invading Iraq was great, and it’s puzzling that he appeared to have forgotten all about his earlier analysis by March 2003. Perhaps there is something in the VSALD after-all?

  5. The Lounsbury Says:

    Strikes me as pure bollocks. Like, actually, polygraphing. Sadly, it might catch on as yet more pseudo-science.

  6. zen Says:

    Hi strat,
    I have heard, RUMINT, that Cheney has changed somewhat over the years. we have to remember how lonng the man has been at the center of power in DC ( he was originally a protege of Donald Rumsfeld, tail end of Nixon into Ford where Cheney became the youngest Chief of Staff in history at, I think, age 35).  The flexibility and tact appears to have been traded for singleminded drive.
    Hi Col,

    I forsee a lot of teen-age and twentysomething girls uploading cell phone video drama on to this site someday

  7. John M. Says:

    If this technology were to become commonplace, many will learn how to beat it. 

    And, by the way, polygraph lie detection is somewhat unfairly maligned.  FBI polygraph examiners have been extremely successful.  The trick is that you need capable operators who can detect lies without polygraph examination.  The process is a synergy between the machine, the examiner and the subject.  Success almost always results in confession.  You don’t just turn on the machine, ask some questions and read the graph. 

    I suspect, in the long run, the same will be true with voice stress analysis; to get the skilled prevaricators you will need expert human analysts and examiners to interpret the data and formulate subsequent inquiries.  Still, it should be great for common criminals and reality TV. 

    VSA spoofing may become a key component of the career criminal (or politician/diplomat/intelligence officer) of the future’s skill set.

  8. The Lounsbury Says:

    And, by the way, polygraph lie detection is somewhat unfairly maligned.  FBI polygraph examiners have been extremely successful.  The trick is that you need capable operators who can detect lies without polygraph examination.

    And thus pseudo-science lives on. Or in short, your statement is utter stupid bollocks. There’s no actual science behind the statement, merely the assertion that a skill interrogator can leverage a machine with a mystique to extract confessions. Useful perhaps in the way any interrogative half-truth is, but humans – in actual proper studies, including interrogators supposedly skilled in ‘detecting’ lies – do bloody poorly in detecting, well, lies. Stress, another matter, lies, bloody poorly.

    No surprise on that, also quite poor in analysing lots of situations based on risk and probability evaluation, but then hairless apes whose brains evolved for social interaction and confidence building would be expected to do poorly as such.

    Unfairly maligned….

    Sadly Zen is quite right, the pseudo-science will no doubt wreck numerous fly by night relationships, rather like similar artefacts like mood rings.

  9. John M. Says:

    There was no science intended to be ‘behind the statement’.  Law enforcement is about apprehending and prosecuting perpetrators, not proving a theory or satisfying the needs of people who hurl invective on blog comments.

  10. John M. Says:

    In hope of obviating further ludicrous (and poorly crafted) tirades….
    And thus pseudo-science lives on.
    You’ve missed the point entirely.  Do try to keep up.  In the meantime, I’ll spell it out for you.
    My statement was an aside and was intended to draw the distinction between a technology like RealScoop and the work of polygraph examiners
    in actual proper studies, including interrogators supposedly skilled in ‘detecting’ lies – do bloody poorly in detecting, well, lies. Stress, another matter, lies, bloody poorly.
    The emotional state of a subject directed to lie in a scientific study is markedly different from someone who just murdered their wife.  In this regard, your statement is irrelevant.
    What I’m detecting is a fundamental lack of understanding of how law enforcement works. I’ve discussed this subject with LEOs on the local, state and federal level in some detail, and I can assure you that these guys would do anything if it would result in a clean bust.  This includes, playing hunches, consulting psychics and using polygraph examination, all the while ignoring the findings of science and the prejudices of the ignorant. This is not a philosophical issue or a scientific debate, it is rubber-meets-the-road reality, something you might be well served to become acquainted with.
    The science of polygraph examination may be in doubt, but its utility is not.  The FBI approach is quite effective.  The confessions elicited save law enforcement a great deal of time and effort and the taxpayers a substantial chunk of change, as well.
    Do your homework.  The information is out there. Unless you prefer to spout off misinformed, juvenile garbage.

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