The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life
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Saturday, August 3, 2013
Current Affairs ... Society ... Technology ...

As a follow-up to my recent note on John McAfee and his book on the Hindu “yamas”, I read a bit more about the Belize murder case against him. The circumstances of that murder still seem fishy, and Mr. McAfee’s hypothetical role in it certainly does seem plausible. But McAfee seems to be off the hook now that he’s back in the States. Or is he?

There’s an interesting article on the Sci Am web site about new techniques for “lie detecting”. These techniques are based on “big data” studies of people’s behavior and language usage, not on “high tech” solutions such as sodium pentothol injections or wired lie detectors that monitor heart rates, brain wavelengths, skin tension, etc.

All you need now are some videos and e-mails of a suspected liar discussing things that relate to the “secret” that the person might be hiding. The big data studies show emerging trends and differences in what is said and how it is said between liars and truth-tellers.

Has anyone analyzed Mr. McAfee about the murder of his next door neighbor right after some of McAfee’s dogs were poisoned? In fact, someone has! A high-tech company called “QVerify” reviewed several of McAfee’s TV and internet interviews about the case, and has posted an analysis of its findings. QVerify was founded by former CIA officers and specializes in deception detection. They make their money applying techniques that one of their partners had developed for the CIA. That methodology is based on the analysis of verbal and non-verbal behaviors exhibited in response to questions. They claim that this is not just psycho-babble, but is real hard science. The article in Sci Am seems to affirm this.

The QVerity verdict on McAfee: the company found “a high level of deception exhibited by McAfee”. So, unless you are a cold-blooded sociopath, be careful today whenever you try to fudge the truth, especially in front of a camera or on a web site or smart phone. We no longer live in a private world (as Edward Snowden reminded us; I hope he enjoys his stay in a police-state-in-the-making, or re-making actually). We increasingly need to assume that everything we say and do is digitally recorded and is available to someone with power or fortune. Young people especially seem resigned (or even enthusiastic) about having their daily lives captured on Facebook and YouTube. So comb your hair and smile, because big brother is watching indeed!

This technology may really be great for law enforcement and criminal justice. I wonder what it would show if applied to George Zimmerman? I suspect that he would get mixed grades, for lies mixed in with truths. I further suspect that most of us would get similar grades for discussing almost anything important about ourselves.

Verity techniques are becoming more and more reliable, and I’m sure that affordable lie-detecting software will soon be available to the public. So if you suspect that your wife or husband is cheating, or you just want to really know if your spouse thinks you are getting fat and dowdy, get them to talk about it on tape or camera (an I-Phone or Pad will do just fine), then keep an eye on their Facebook page for any and all comments to their friends about you. Run it thru the spiffy new truth software, and NOW YOU KNOW.

Are we human beings, along with our social structures, really ready for 100% honesty? WELCOME TO THE BRAVE NEW WORLD!!!

◊   posted by Jim G @ 10:42 am      

  1. Jim, Once again some random tho’ts on your topic today:

    As to the “lie-detecting” techniques as developed by various agencies of our government: I think there is a great deal of “verity” in not only inconsistencies in what one may write to one person and/or to other individuals; I find most interesting checking out the body language of people as they speak.

    However, first I must say: I can understand the need a person may have to say one thing to a particular individual and/or treat a particular individual one knows more or less well one way, and yet have a different and yet a concurrent opinion about that individual and write it or say it to another person whom one trusts and confides in. What’s the difference between the writing of something and simply talking out a situation with a good friend? There’s legitimacy in regard to such a situation, a kind of releasing the stress of dealing with individuals on a daily basis to a person one trusts and knows will respect one’s confidences.

    There’s a massive difference between confidences between individuals and just plain gossiping and trashing other people just for the heck of it. Provision must be made for privacy even if it is the gov’t is “looking in” on others.

    Yet . . . it is interesting to watch people’s body language or even to think closely about what individuals say.

    One place it’s extremely easy to do such observation is with reality shows on TV. I have found myself carefully watching one or two of these shows – precisely for that point, watching the body language of the individuals as they talk or do business.

    One individual I noticed who is in the real estate business covers his face, especially his mouth, with his hands every single time he is afraid the client or a prospective buyer is going to say something he does not want to hear or would like to have a “snappy” answer for, instead, when he lowers his hands, he smiles and has a “counter proposal” of some kind appropriate to the situation. One can just see in his body language that he is holding back what he really thinks. He lowers his hands and smiles; yet all the while, it clearly is far from smiling inside.

    Another example: Watch the people on TV (or for that matter watch the individuals one deals with on a daily basis) when they smile. Does the smile reach their eyes? Or is it an empty smile that only covers the lower half of their faces? I’ve noticed one individual on a reality show whose smile is almost “devilish” (I really wanted to say “evil” here). Something about his smile is not genuine, haven’t quite figured out what it is that’s not genuine yet, but I’m working on it.

    There’s a reason such movie starts as Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise are said to have “million dollar” smiles: Their smiles, every single time, fully reach their eyes and light up their faces. Strangely enough, they have learned how to turn their body language into money as every single time they smile almost surely they do no “feel” that smile in their eyes; I’d bet money on it. I find myself wondering what their smiles look like when they are not “million dollar” smiles.

    Just a couple of examples, and there are many others.

    It’s interesting watching reality shows from that standpoint. I find myself being completely bored with the actual “reality” of the reality shows; but watching the body language of people is a book in itself.

    As to writing different things to different people: Perhaps there’s something I’m missing. But I’m not too sure that’s a big wonder. Of course, it’s almost taken for granted in today’s society that people will say one thing to an individual’s face, another behind his/her back. What precisely is the actual difference if one writes (as opposed to saying) one thing to an individual and then turns around and writes something “behind his/her back”? Seems the about the same to me as, all too often, we all do when we speak to others about certain individuals in our lives.

    But I think there is truly a most important point that people who use social media, most especially young people, have little clue as to how what they post and/or say on social media; almost certainly what is posted on social media will come back to bite them some day in the future. Part of the problem here is that individuals have not yet used this technology for long enough to realize the consequences it may bring in one’s future. There’s a learning curve with social media that I do not think has yet been reached or even has been realized exists.

    On a tangential point: It occurs to me that the young generation(s?) (say 35 years and under) seem to have the idea that their opinions are of vast importance, no matter the topic. Yet, they seem to have no clue that opinions to be important must have some knowledge, education (however informal), and tho’t behind them to have any real value.

    Jimmy Kimmel live has a hoot of a “take” on just that idea. He will make up the most outlandish, outrageous, makes-no-sense question, and ask passersby on the street their opinion regarding the nonsensical question. Someone *always* has an opinion on the topic and pronounces the opinion with what purports to be authority on the topic. It amazes me that people are so willing to “spout off” on a topic that makes no sense, purport to have an opinion on the nonsensical topic, and propound it with such authority. As far as I am concerned, it’s become a situation where “having an opinion” about a topic does not interest me (unless I know the person is an informed person). In addition I’ve actually gotten to the point where I almost routinely refuse to give my opinion on any survey that comes my way – and there seem to be too many requests for one’s opinion.

    I think that technology has advanced to such a point where people have no clue as to what actual effect it may have on their lives in the future, a future that may be closer than what one initially thinks of as “the future”. Perhaps we are yet babes when it comes to learning the effect technology will have on peoples’ lives. MCS

    Comment by Mary — August 3, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

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