An Honest World: Could we handle a truly honest world?

It was one of those little stories in the bottom corner of a newspaper page. No big headline, no flashy art to grab the eye. Most readers probably skipped right over it. But it could turn out to be the news of the century. From the peak of government power to private relationships between lovers, this could change civilization.

A team of scientists in the US have announced their discovery that different parts of the brain ‘light up’ during an FMRI (brain scan) depending on whether a person is lying or telling the truth.

Who cares, you ask? We already have lie detector machines, you say. Yes, we do. We also have tarot cards and psychics, but none of them are very good at detecting truth either. Polygraph tests don’t measure truth. They measure a person’s physical reaction to answering a question. They can be derailed by cool-headed liars and honest subjects who are too nervous.

This is entirely different, however. If this turns out to provide reliable results among all people, we could usher in the age of truth, a time when lies and bull become extinct. No more lying politicians, no more crooked business people, no more cheating spouses. No need for trials. Just plug ’em up and read the data. It sounds farfetched but so did cell phones and organ transplants once upon a time.

In the future perhaps everyone will pack a hand-held brain scanner. Lies, even the ‘nice’ ones, will no longer be practical in the human toolkit for social interaction.

Just imagine, an honest world. Could we handle it?

World News editor Guy P. Harrison is at [email protected]

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