9. Lie Detectors
They just plain don’t work. They might have some vague use in increasing the
psychological stress of a subject under interrogation, but galvanic skin
response and heart rate have little to do with the process of lying. The use
of lie detectors is basically a voodoo ritual that allows large institutions
to lie to themselves about the trustworthiness of their employees.
Even if lie detectors did work—say, with
newfangled nuclear magnetic-resonance brain scans—they would become an
Orwellian intrusion. Furthermore, there would likely be a social revolution
as major actors in society, from top to bottom, had to admit to fabricating
their lives out of spin and wishful thinking. The official public version of
our means, motives, and opportunities is severely divorced from the private
world of our interior thoughts. If we were forced to confront and reveal our
brain functions through technological means, most of us would soon discover
that we led half-baked lives of quiet intellectual desperation, in which
very little thought of any kind ever took place.