How the CIA uses fMRI Machines to Read Human Minds (and how to beat them at their own game)

Everyone knows about the polygraph. Funny enough, it was invented by William Moulton Marston who was also the mind that came up with the DC Comics character Wonder Woman. Now you know why she carries her “lasso of truth”! But familiarity with the polygraph also means that plenty of people know how to defeat or otherwise spoof the system. You can squeeze your butt cheeks together creating tension in the body that will throw off the readings. A tack can be placed in the shoe and pressed down on during questioning. In theory, the polygraph examiner can ask you to remove your shoes and sit on a pad that will detect your deception techniques but it’s too easy to just bite your tongue…literally.

You can also spoof the system by being brutally honest when the tester asks his control questions. You see, he has to catch you in a lie so that he can establish what you baseline reading looks like and then differentiate between when you tell the truth and when you tell a lie. If you answer all the control questions correctly, the tester will get frustrated and keep trying to trip you up and ask questions that are embarrassing enough that you are compelled to lie.

Can you imagine sitting there rigged up to a polygraph getting two hours of control questions thrown at you while the tester tries to catch you in a lie?

“Have you ever had sexual relations with a man, a woman, another man, a rodeo clown, and a farm animal at the same time?”

“…yes.”

The first time I considered that fMRI machines could potentially be used for lie detection purposes was when I read the novel “Daemon” by Daniel Suarez. In his book, Suarez describes a very interesting automated computer virus that becomes something of a social movement. In order to test a new member’s suitability for membership into the group, they basically feed them into a fMRI machine and a computer begins asking them questions.

I thought it was an interesting idea, but merely a cool science fiction concept that the author had dreamed up. About a year later I had a conversation with an industrial psychologist who told me that certain corporations and three-letter agencies are using the fMRI for lie detection purposes, basically as a counter-intelligence technique. I pressed for specifically which organizations are doing this.

“Certain governmental agencies and corporations.”

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