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Lies, Misinformation, and Truth

July 15, 2010

I have come across two news stories this week coming out of university research and development.

The first, is a new lie detection system:

Research by psychologists at the University of Utah has led to the development of a new lie detection system that tracks the activities of a subject’s eyes: Using eye movement to detect lies contrasts with polygraph testing. Instead of measuring a person’s emotional reaction to lying, eye-tracking technology measures the person’s cognitive reaction. To do so, the researchers record a number of measurements while a subject is answering a series of true-and-false questions on a computer. The measurements include pupil dilation, response time, reading and rereading time, and errors.

The researchers determined that lying requires more work than telling the truth, so they look for indications that the subject is working hard. (http://www.neatorama.com/2010/07/12/new-lie-detector-tracks-eye-movements/)

The second, has to do with how we deal with misinformation:

SharpFang writes “In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that misinformed people, particularly political partisans, rarely changed their minds when exposed to corrected facts in news stories. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.”  (http://idle.slashdot.org/story/10/07/14/1235220/Given-Truth-the-Misinformed-Believe-Lies-More?from=rss)

This left me pondering, Would a lie detector respond if we were questioned about misinformation that we are deeply convicted is true? Just because we believe something doesn’t make it true or right.

Truth is defined as the actual existence or state of a matter; a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like. How can we know if something is true?

Our world tells us that many things are truth, that there is no absolute truth, or that truth does not matter. My faith has taught me that it does matter, in fact it matter incredibly. For several years I was very mixed up and confused because the misinformation I had learned was beginning to be revealed and my heart was aching for more. At times I fought it, I struggled for control, and I did and said things that I wish I had not because they showed disrespect toward others. My pastor describes it as belligerent: angry, bitter, fighting, resistant, and hard. He also knows that when people feel this way when they are presented with God’s truth, it usually means that the truth is breaking through that strong barrier of misinformation and deceit.

If we hold onto misinformation, even when we are presented with the facts, the truth, then it is not an issue of our mind, but an issue of our heart. There is only one way for our heart to change. It changes from the inside when we know God. He is what is true.

“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true.  And we are in him who is true – even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)

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