Daily Archives: May 5, 2014

Law Enforcement Mythology

Stories like this surface from time to time.

The contention that there are ‘scientific’ ways to detect when a human being is ‘lying’ is on a par with assertions of the existence of unicorns, fairies, or sasquatch (which perhaps not coincidentally was also in the news over the weekend).

Then again, I would sooner accept the proposition that sasquatch is a real thing than the proposition that someone has figured out scientifically how to tell when someone is lying.

Why does this myth persist?  Why do uncritical recitations of the myth regularly appear in the news media?

Quite simply, to influence the jury pool.  Law enforcement is planting and cultivating the seed in the minds of as many people as possible that by the time a trial occurs, our highly trained and trusted law enforcement officials have already determined who is telling the truth and who isn’t through their detached, scientific approach.  That way, when the trial is characterized as a “he said-she said” contest they will overwhelmingly win, as long as their claim to a flawless scientific methodology is respected.  Notice that the news stories, in a departure from the usual practice of getting a contrary opinion, don’t bother to do that here.  No skeptic of the demonstrably false law enforcement myth is quoted or, it appears, sought.

It’s yet another arrow in the quiver of the prosecution in a criminal case, and where it’s a factor it should probably be addressed at jury selection.

If the judge lets you.  Ugh.

1 Comment

Filed under Media incompetence/bias, wrongful convictions