Friday, January 30, 2009

Lies, lies, lies

Is the Israeli GDP such a weak sister that it has to stifle academic criticism in Sweden?

The gist is, a couple of Swedish scientists (a linguist and a phoneticist) published an article a year ago in which they describe the last fifty years of "Charlatanry in forensic speech science" — the title of their article — as baseless, useless quackery. In other words, lie detectors can't work and don't work. They're bunk.

So, a lie detector manufacturer in Israel, apparently stung by declining (or nonexistent?) sales, threatens to sue for libel to suppress future publication on the issue!

Isn't litigation fun? Merits, schmerits! No need for expensive (or embarassing) research and rebuttal, just hit 'em in the courts. This sounds remarkably like SCO's frivolous (and interminable) lawsuits against Linux the last ten years. SCO was eventually bled dry when the consequences of Linux losing that argument by default became obvious, and IBM stepped in to bankroll the defense.

It's possible that fear of polygraphs is the psychological leverage that makes this gimcrackery minimally effective. In which case, a bit of psychoactive rubber hose from your local radiator shop is waaay cheaper.



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