The Truth About Lying May Come From Your Gut

In an interesting test of science, University of Texas researchers may have found a more accurate way of measuring a person's truth-telling abilities than the conventional polygraph by listening to their stomach.

Although polygraph tests are generally 80-90 percent reliable, sometimes increases in heart rate and sweating can skew the results. A UT study compared the reliability of an electrocardiogram (measuring heart rate) versus that of an electrogastrogram (measuring stomach fluctuations) on 16 patients.

In comparison to baseline measurements, both lying and telling the truth affected the results detected on an electrocardiogram. However, readings on the electrogastrogram fluctuated only when patients were telling lies, meaning a big decrease in the number of normal gastric slow waves.

Fact is, according to the National Academy of Sciences, polygraph machines measure stress, not lying. And because there's no accepted scientific model -- at the moment -- that definitively links a body's reaction to stress to lying either, that's created uncertainty about the veracity of the polygraph.

Wouldn't you just love to see a few of these mega-drug company executives and federal officials I've talked about here hooked up to either machine to separate fact from fiction about the harm their decisions may have had on your health?

BBC News November 1, 2005

New Scientist October 31, 2005

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