21 Comments

  1. “Was it true, the warning in the bottom left?”

    It appears to have been a true warning, based on the subsequent panels. But she won.

  2. I don’t think this strip has anything to do with the liar’s paradox. She makes statements that are objectively recognizable as lies, but since she believes them, the detectors register nothing. The warning in the lower left panel is true, she denies it with one last lie, and it kills her, but since she still believed even that last lie, the detector still registered nothing, so she enjoyed one last (Pyrrhic) victory. Perhaps it’s supposed to be funny because the evil liar dies.

    P.S. I liked the joke in the title panel better than the rest of the strip, playing on the song “Lay Lady Lay” and the common inability to distinguish between the various senses and tenses of “lay” and “lie”.

  3. Lie detectors don’t detect lies. Lie detectors detect physiological signs of your brain engaging in deception.

    So, if you lie like a politician, by reflex, you can probably beat a lie detector. If you are the type of person who gets nervous when under suspicion, you probably can’t, and might even create some false positives– where it looks like you’re lying but you’re actually just being extra careful to tell the truth. The high rate of false negatives and false positives are why lie detector results aren’t admissible in trial courts.

  4. Her physiological reaction to lying is strong enough to kill her but undetectable by the World’s Most Advanced Lie Detector.
    Sounds about right.

  5. My thought is the same as Downpuppy. Apparently her heart valve is better at detecting when she is lying than the machine.
    It also appears she was lying the entire time and not just delusional. No matter how outrageous her statements, if they weren’t lies they wouldn’t have killed her.

  6. Fun fact: lie detectors may not work, but Wonder Woman’s magic lasso does, and they were invented by the same person.

  7. A minor correction/addendum re James d Pollock. At least in California, polygraph evidence IS admissible IF both the prosecution & defense agree. I cannot speak to other states, but one always needs to be careful with broad statements where the law is concerned.

  8. “Was it true, the warning in the bottom left?”

    I thought you were asking if there was such a thing as a heart abnormality that would cause death if a person lied too much. I read every comment to see if there was. Not that I’m at risk, but there are a few politicians that I wonder about.

  9. A line from an eBook I wrote which will go non-plugged here:

    “She wanted to believe he was as right as he usually was. But believing is a distance from knowing and knows it. And wanting to believe is twenty blocks short of believing and takes you on risky detours beside.”

    Old cartoon gag: “If I’m lying, may lightning strike me!”

    Usually some meteorological force promptly obliges. Variant: In an ancient comic strip, Nancy accuses Sluggo of not telling the truth. He telephones the weather service, gets a sunny forecast, and THEN uses the line.

  10. Winter Wallaby, I was curious about your fun fact and checked it out. Ha! Your fun fact is pretty ho-hum compared to the rest of his bio.

  11. It’s not the Liar’s Paradox, per se, but there is a paradox here.

    The machine depends on the assumption that there is some measurable physiological effect when a person tells a lie.
    The machine is the most advanced in the world, and if there is a measurable physiological effect, the machine will detect it.
    The woman consistently lied.
    The machine never detected a measurable physiological effect.
    Therefore there was no measurable physiological effect when the woman lied.
    The researchers detected a physiological effect, and they measured it with such precision that they could predict the effect of another lie.
    The woman told another lie, the effect occurred, and she died, as predicted.
    Therefore there was a measurable physiological effect when the woman lied.

  12. @ MiB – That paradox assumes that the physiological effect that the machine is designed to detect is the same as the one that killed her, or perhaps that the machine was designed to detect any physiological effect at all. On the other hand, it would be entirely reasonable to assume that an electronic sensor attached to a live patient should be able to detect when the patient expires. If it can’t even do that, then it would seem to be a very poorly-designed machine.

  13. Mr. Grumpy, has a court in California had to apply Frye to polygraph evidence yet? I don’t live in California, and thus have no reason to care what the rules of evidence in California are or might be.

  14. @Kilby

    } P.S. I liked the joke in the title panel better than the rest of the strip,
    } playing on the song “Lay Lady Lay” and the common inability to distinguish
    } between the various senses and tenses of “lay” and “lie”.

    An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country. Henry Wotton.

  15. Just a few days ago I watched a PBS documentary on the lie detector. (The American Experience series).

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