Lie detector company threatens journal with Libel suit

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patchwork (January 30, 2009, 09:48:48 AM):
So it would seem that a scientific paper on the validity of those voice stress lie detectors was withdrawn from a scientific journal in after one of the companies who manufactures these devices threatened the journal with a libel suit.

http://www.su.se/english/about/news_and_events/scientists_threatened_with_legal_action

Since my personal experience with lie detectors and most of the stuff I have read on lie detectors marks them as essentially useless, this is a very worrying situation.

The paper however seems to have been uploaded to the following site so read it before it gets pulled :)
http://www.scribd.com/doc/9673590/Eriksson-Lacerda-2007



bluegray (January 30, 2009, 13:48:40 PM):
Looks like these strong arm tactics might just blow up in their faces ;D
I wonder why the journal was so quick to fold under a little pressure though...
patchwork (January 31, 2009, 12:04:05 PM):
maybe they didnt have the money to fight it, there doesnt seem to be much response from the journal's side that I have seen.

anyway ts an interesting article either way on just how little science goes into these things vs making stuff up.
Rigil Kent (February 04, 2009, 13:37:41 PM):
As far as I know, libel constitutes publication of a false claim with the aim to defame. If their law is anything like ours, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. So if it comes to that, I think the court would have to instruct the manufacturer to provide evidence that lie detectors are effective as claimed. Unless there is another way of making a suit stick that I'm missing.
Mefiante (February 04, 2009, 20:55:26 PM):
This whole lie-detector situation is simultaneously almost comically preposterous and worryingly disquieting. The Israeli equipment manufacturer is clearly angling to muzzle free and open scientific inquiry that would diminish its claims about its products, apparently with some success. It is surprising that the journal has bowed to such heavy-handed tactics so there may be more to this story than is being reported – perhaps some looming methodological question marks. Still, one must ask how a scientific experiment or series thereof, if properly conducted, can possibly be libellous or defamatory. The peer review process will surely show up a poor study in due course.

The situation seems akin to a group of homoeopaths threatening to sue, say, The Lancet or New England Journal of Medicine for intending to publish yet another properly designed and executed study that shows homoeopathy to be bogus.

In any case, the onus of proof rests on the claimant who makes a positive claim. In this instance, the equipment manufacturer is making the positive claim that its equipment can distinguish with some minimum level of success between a person’s honest and dishonest statements. If they have evidence for this claim, they should present it in the same forum that the contentious article was supposed to be published in so that it is also open to scrutiny by other interested parties. In other words, the effectiveness or otherwise of their lie-detection device(s) is clearly a scientific question that should be settled scientifically. Such suppression as the manufacturer has chosen to adopt is thoroughly anti-scientific because, as said, it overtly and actively seeks to stifle free inquiry.

It is indeed true that most countries require the plaintiff in a defamation suit (libel or slander) to prove damaging statements false, while the best defence is usually to show the statements true. Thus, if the equipment manufacturer can prove that their gear works as claimed, they would win the case, whereas they’d lose by default if they couldn’t or the scientists put forward their study and the court found it compelling.

Perhaps the answer would be to subject the equipment manufacturer’s senior staff to double blind testing with a variety of such devices, including some of their own. The deciding question would be, “You are currently connected to a lie detector that neither of us can see. Assuming that it is one made by your company, does it work at least as well as any other manufacturer’s?” It’ll be revealing to see at what rates different devices identify those “Yes!” answers as lies…

'Luthon64

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