Beat a Brain-Based Lie Detector Test With 2 Simple Mental Tricks

As this video shows, It's easier than you think.

The future of lie-detection technology is here, and with it, the future of cheating on said lie detection tests. While previous methods, called polygraph tests, relied on measurements of skin conductance, developing tech looks at the activity of the brain to give an even more precise reading. But in a recent study, researchers discovered two methods to trip up these new brain-based lie detectors, so now rapscallions like you can cheat the system.

Brain-based lie detectors could be the future of truth detection technology, as the video above explains. Functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, maps blood flow throughout the brain in real time, and this allows scientists to look for the patterns of activity associated with lying.

A recent study, published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, found two simple ways to trip up the test through a simple experiment in which subjects had to lie. First, they were each given a specific number selected out of a pool and told to keep this number a secret. Then, they were shown various numbers on a screen.

When a person’s secret number appeared on the screen, their brains would light up as they tried to not appear excited about it. However, certain subjects were taught various methods to try and properly hide this reaction. Here are the two methods that showed real results.

Original Caption: 6/4/1954- Lie detector being demonstrated by Dr. Fred Inbau, professor of criminal law at Northwestern University. Photo shows Dr. Inbau giving the test to pretty Betsey Palmer.
In the past, lie detector tests relied on skin conductance.

Method 1: Removing Meaning From the Word

The first method involved stripping away the meaning of a word or object and focusing on the superficial elements of it. In their test, the subjects were told to focus on the physical elements of the number they were meant to keep hidden.

Whenever a number appeared on the screen, they were instructed to only look at its physical attributes. The sharp edges of the font, the colors of the various numbers, stuff like that. If you are able to reduce the subject (in this case a number, but in another case, a murder weapon) to simply shapes and colors, seems to help prevent your brain from spazzing out when trying to hide semantic meaning.

Method 2: Giving Meaning to Other Words

The second method involved giving meaning to other words or objects in order to throw the lie detector off the scent. So, using numbers, instead of trying to hide the number five by focusing on how not special it is, simply give special meaning to other numbers.

By, seemingly arbitrarily, choosing other subjects that matter to you, the accuracy of the test will falter. So even though your brain might still flash excitement when five pops up, if you also just force your brain to be wary of the number six because it’s the devil’s number, it will also send red flags to the readers, suggesting that no one number is more important than the others.

These methods might seem simple, but they’ve proven to be very effective. When using these methods, the accuracy of the lie detection test was diminished by 20%. When dealing with matters of life and death, that’s way too big of a field of error.

The next time you find yourself being strapped down into an MRI machine to prove your innocence, remember these two methods. For the sake of justice, hopefully studies like this one can help improve the accuracy of these tests. But for your sake, hopefully you can still squeeze by with a little brain manipulation.