Saturday, April 12, 2008

Please File This Under Authoritarians and Dumb-Asses

(This post title is a not-so-subtle hint to Doug & Co.)

I have very little to add to this Jim Henley post. Just to sum up: we are sending hand-held lie detectors to Afghanistan (and eventually to our local police here in the US, with a stop in Iraq along the way, of course). The "information" gleaned from these divinatio...err, Evildoer Finders is to be used as a way of finding terrorists, providing access to important areas, and as a screening tool for interviewing potential police officers and interpreters.

The trouble is: the machines are only between 63 and 79 percent accurate, making regular lie detectors look like the Oracle at Delphi (which, of course, was amazingly reliable).

As I said in a comment to Henley's post: I'm pretty sure that I can tell when someone is lying to my face at an accuracy rate of 63 percent. There's also, of course, the fact that these machines are to be used in situations where extremely heavily armed men will be asking the questions. For some reason I doubt that these machines were tested in circumstances that precisely simulated that environment. Which means that the real accuracy rate is probably more along the lines of a coin-flip.