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Study Suggests Magnets Can Force You to Tell the Truth 320

Estonian researchers claim that magnets can either force you to lie or make it impossible. Subjects in the study had magnets placed at either the left or the right side of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and the results suggest that the individual was either unable to tell the truth or unable to lie depending on which side was stimulated. From the article: "Last year, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also used powerful magnets to disrupt the area said to be the brain's 'moral compass,' situated behind the right ear, making people temporarily less moral."
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Study Suggests Magnets Can Force You to Tell the Truth

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  • Cell Phones (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @11:25AM (#37351850)

    "magnets to disrupt the area said to be the brain's 'moral compass,' situated behind the right ear, making people temporarily less moral"

    Is that why people on cell phones act like assholes?

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @11:36AM (#37351998)

    Modern neuroscience is killing any wiggle-room that might have remained regarding souls and free will. As I've mentioned before, neuroscientists, ethicists, and legal scholars are concerned that "my brain made me do it" will become a reasonable courtroom defense. (No, I'm not talking about the traditional "insanity defense".)

    We will eventually be forced to re-think a lot of cherished beliefs about brains, minds, and behavior.

  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @11:43AM (#37352096) Journal

    Note that not being able to lie does not imply not being able to tell anything but the truth. Many people telling wrong things actually believe them.

  • by s_p_oneil ( 795792 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @11:45AM (#37352146) Homepage

    According to the article, it sounds like it would depend on whether they're facing east or west at the time. ;-)

    Although this bugs me:
    "The volunteers were presented a series of coloured discs, and told they could tell the truth or lie about the objects' colours while half were being stimulated on the left and half on the right. Results showed that the eight volunteers who had their left DPC stimulated lied more often, while the ones with the right DPC stimulated were more likely to tell the truth, researchers said."

    "More often" is nowhere close to "impossible". They don't say how much more, and it could be a very small percentage. If the percentage was large, I imagine the reporter would've put it in the article to make it sound more impressive and news-worthy (and the research team would've touted it loudly to get more interest and thus more funding). Also, there are no emotions or incentive involved in this case to lie or tell the truth and the subject knows it is a test, so it is more of a game than actually lying. Who knows what made the subjects change how they play the game? Maybe right-handed people get more annoyed by having magnets stuck to the left side of their head than the right side for some reason (right-handed people being the majority), and maybe the more annoyed the test subject is, the more likely they are to play the game negatively.

  • by yog ( 19073 ) * on Friday September 09, 2011 @12:16PM (#37352574) Homepage Journal

    Oh, man, you just ruined my day! Those suckers would definitely take this idea and run with it.

    TSA rep: "All passengers will place their heads into the magnetic lie detector and answer the simple question: 'Are you a hijacker?' If you answer in the affirmative, you will be detained. Please remove earrings and other metallic objects."

    Armed with this technology, they should be able to nab one or two people out of a thousand, and they may even end up with a quota system. I can see it now, a leaked TSA memo: "Have you met your hijacker quota for the month?"

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @01:15PM (#37353386)

    Politicians don't lie. They just don't believe in the truth.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak