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A new form of lie-detector test

Level 3 l Advanced
1 Warmer
Complete these sentences with your own words. Do not use a dictionary! Then, compare your sentences with
other students.
a. A lie is
b. A lie detector is

2 Key words
Read the definitions and find the words in the article. The paragraph numbers are given to help you.
1. prove in a court of law that someone is guilty of a crime ____________________ (para 1)
2. discover something or someone that was not known before or that people had kept secret, especially by
searching very thoroughly ____________________ (para 1)
3. not existing or working any more ____________________ (para 3)
4. sudden movements of a muscle that you cannot control, especially in your face ____________________
(para 3)
5. doubts that someone has about something that other people think is true or right ____________________
(para 4)
6. a principle or statement that you consider to be true, which you base other ideas and actions on
____________________ (para 5)
7. keep making small, quick movements with parts of your body because you are bored, nervous or impatient
____________________ (para 5)
8. the act of tricking someone by telling them something that is not true ____________________ (para 6)
9. something that helps a system, organization or person to be strong or to continue to exist
____________________ (para 7)
10. find out something ____________________ (para 12)
11. not capable of making mistakes ____________________ (para 13)
12. agreement among all the people involved ____________________ (para 13)
13. something extremely valuable or useful ____________________ (para 19, two words)
14. confuse ____________________ (para 20)
15. take action to reduce the effectiveness of something ____________________ (para 22)

NEWS LESSONS / A new form of lie-detector test / Advanced

Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

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16. a movement, action or expression on someones face that shows the truth about something
____________________ (para 22)

A new form of lie-detector test

Level 3 l Advanced

Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015


NEWS LESSONS / A new form of lie-detector test / Advanced

1 Police and intelligence agencies around the world


have, for almost 100 years, relied on lie detectors to
help convict criminals or unearth spies and traitors.
2 The polygraph is beloved of the movies, with
countless dramatic moments showing the guilty
sweating profusely as they are hooked up.
3 But the invention could soon be defunct.
Researchers in Britain and the Netherlands have
made a breakthrough, developing a method with
a success rate in tests of over 70% that could be
in use in police stations around the world within a
decade. Rather than relying on facial tics, talking
too much or waving of arms all seen as tell-tale
signs of lying the new method involves monitoring
full-body motions to provide an indicator of signs of
guilty feelings.
4 The polygraph is widely used in the US in criminal
and other cases and for security clearance for
the FBI and CIA but is much less popular in
Europe. There has been a lot of scepticism in the
scientific and legal communities about its reliability.
By contrast, the new method developed by the
researchers has performed well in experiments.
5 The basic premise is that liars fidget more and so
the use of an all-body motion suit the kind used
in films to create computer-generated characters
will pick this up. The suit contains 17 sensors that
register movement up to 120 times per second in
three dimensions for 23 joints.
6 One of the research team, Ross Anderson,
professor of security engineering at Cambridge
University, said: Decades of deception research
show that the interviewer will tell truth from lies only
slightly better than random, about 55 out of 100.
7 The polygraph has been around since the 1920s
and, by measuring physiological stress induced by
anxiety, you can get to 60. However, it can easily be
abused as an interrogation prop and many people
are anxious anyway facing a polygraph on which
their job or liberty depends.
8 He said the new method, by contrast, achieved a
reliability rating of over 70% and he was confident

Polygraph replacement could be in use in police


stations around the world within a decade
Ewen MacAskill, defence and
security correspondent
4 January, 2015

they would be able to do better. In some tests, the


team has already achieved more than 80%.
9 Anderson said: The takeaway message is that
guilty people fidget more and we can measure
this robustly.
10 Anderson added that the research had a special
significance at this time, against the background of
the US Senate report on torture by the CIA. Apart
from the moral case against torture, Anderson
pointed out that it was a very unreliable way of
gathering accurate information. We have known
for a long time that torture does not work, he said.
The new method offers a pragmatic, scientifically
backed alternative to conducting interviews.
11 The research paper was written by Dr Sophie van
der Zee of Cambridge University, Professor Ronald
Poppe of Utrecht University, Professor Paul Taylor
of Lancaster University and Anderson.
12 The polygraph was created in 1921 by policeman
John Larson, based on research by the
psychologist William Marston. It records changes
in pulse, blood pressure, sweating and breathing to
ascertain whether a subject is lying.
13 While cinema depictions suggest the device is
near-infallible, the US Supreme Court ruled,
in 1998, that there was no consensus that the
polygraph was reliable, a finding supported by the
US National Academy of Scientists in 2003.
14 The experiment carried out by Anderson and his
colleagues involved 180 students and employees at
Lancaster University, of which half were told to tell
the truth and half to lie. They were each paid 7.50
for their participation in the 70-minute experiment,
involving two tests.
15 Some were interviewed about a computer game
Never End, which they played for seven minutes,
while others lied about playing it, having only been
shown notes about it.
16 The second test involved a lost wallet containing
5. Some were asked to bring the wallet to a
lost-and-found box while others hid it and lied
about it.
17 Overall, we correctly classified 82.2% (truths:
88.9%; lies: 75.6%) of the interviewees as either
being truthful or deceptive based on the combined
movement in their individual limbs, the report says.
18 Anderson said: Our first attempt looked at the
extent to which different body parts and body
signals indicated deception. It turned out that liars
wave their arms more but, again, this is only at the
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British and Dutch researchers develop


new form of lie-detector test

A new form of lie-detector test

Level 3 l Advanced
60% level that you can get from a
conventional polygraph.
19 The pay dirt was when we considered total body
motion. That turns out to tell truth from lies over
70% of the time and we believe it can be improved
still further by combining it with optimal
questioning techniques.
20 Another advantage is that total body motion is
relatively unaffected by cultural background, anxiety
and cognitive load (how much you are thinking),
which confound other lie-detection technologies,
Anderson said.

Anderson and his colleagues are now looking at


low-cost alternatives. These include using
motion-sensing technology from computer games,
such as the Kinect devices developed by Microsoft
for the Xbox console.
22 Anderson acknowledges that agencies such as the
CIA could teach agents how to counter the full-body
motion method by freezing their bodies but he said
that in itself would be a giveaway.
Guardian News and Media 2015
First published in The Guardian, 04/01/15

21 The use of all-body suits is expensive they cost


about 30,000 and can be uncomfortable, and

3 Comprehension check
What can you remember? Try to answer the questions without referring back to the article.
1. Who invented the polygraph lie detector?
2. How does it work?
3. Who uses it and for what purposes?
4. Why is it sometimes considered to be unreliable?
5. How does the new lie-detector suit work?
6. How reliable is it?
7. What benefits does it have over other lie-detection technologies?
8. What are the downsides of the new method?
9. Where does the technology that the new suit uses come from?

4 Word formation
Complete the table with related words. There may be more than one word in each box.
verb

noun

scepticism

adjective

interrogation
deceive
experimental
convict

NEWS LESSONS / A new form of lie-detector test / Advanced

Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

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detect

A new form of lie-detector test

Level 3 l Advanced
5 Compare and contrast
Compare the meanings of the words in each set. Talk about their similarities and differences.
1. a.

interrogation

b. interview

2. a.

police

b. intelligence agencies

3. a.

FBI

b. CIA

4. a.

US Senate

b. US Supreme Court

6 Webquest
Find images of the polygraph lie detector. Does it look as you thought it would?
Read more about the technology behind the new motion-suit lie detector here:
https://www.xsens.com/products/xsens-mvn/.
Find out whether the use of lie detectors is legal in your country. If it is legal, can the results be used in court?

7 A game
Group 1: For each question you are asked, either tell A LIE or THE TRUTH, depending on what your card says.
Make sure no one in the other group can see your card.
Group 2: Can you decide who is telling the truth and who is lying?
Questions
1. What is your mothers first name?
2. Where were you born?
3. What did you have for breakfast today?
4. What did you do yesterday evening?
5. Where are you going after the class?

NEWS LESSONS / A new form of lie-detector test / Advanced

Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

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6. When did you last speak English outside the class?

A new form of lie-detector test

Level 3 l Advanced
KEY

1. convict
2. unearth
3. defunct
4. tics
5. scepticism
6. premise
7. fidget
8. deception
9. prop
10. ascertain
11. infallible
12. consensus
13. pay dirt
14. confound
15. counter
16. giveaway

3 Comprehension check
1. It was created in 1921 by policeman John Larson,
based on research by the psychologist
William Marston.
2. It records changes in pulse, blood pressure, sweating
and breathing to ascertain whether a subject is lying.
3. It is widely used in the US in criminal and other cases,
for interrogation and for security clearance for the FBI
and CIA but is much less popular in Europe.
4. It has only a 60% success rate. It can easily be
abused as an interrogation prop and many people are
anxious anyway facing a polygraph. The US Supreme
Court ruled that there was no consensus that the
polygraph was reliable, a finding supported by the US
National Academy of Scientists.

Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015


NEWS LESSONS / A new form of lie-detector test / Advanced

4 Word formation
verb

noun

adjective

scepticism
sceptic (person)

sceptical

interrogate

interrogation
interrogator
(person)
interrogative

interrogative

deceive

deception
deceiver (person)

deceptive

experiment

experiment
experimenter
(person)
experimentation

experimental

convict

conviction
convict (person)

convicted

detect

detection
detector
detective (person)

(in / un)detectable
(un)detected

5 Compare and contrast


1.
a. the process of asking someone a lot of questions,
often in an angry or threatening way, in order to
get information
b. a meeting in which someone asks another person,
especially a famous person, questions about
themselves; a formal meeting in which someone

2 Key words

a. something that you say or write that is not true


and that you know is not true.
b. a piece of equipment used for checking whether
someone is telling the truth.

5. It involves monitoring full-body motions, the basic


premise being that liars fidget more.
6. It is over 70% accurate.
7. Total body motion is relatively unaffected by cultural
background, anxiety and cognitive load (how much
you are thinking), which confound other
lie-detection technologies.
8. It is expensive and agents may learn to counter it.
9. film animation

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1 Warmer

A new form of lie-detector test

Level 3 l Advanced
KEY
asks you questions to find out if you are suitable
for a job; an official meeting in which the police ask
someone questions about a crime; a meeting in
which someone asks you a series of questions as
part of a research project

2.
a. an organization that tries to catch criminals and
checks that people obey the law
b. government organizations that collect information
about the secret plans and activities of a foreign
government, enemy etc
3.
a. the Federal Bureau of Investigation: a US
government department that deals with serious
crimes that affect more than one US state
b. the Central Intelligence Agency: a US government
organization that collects secret political, military
and other information about other countries and
protects secret information about the US
4.
a. the more senior part of the US Congress, the other
part being the House of Representatives
b. the highest court in the US, which has authority
over all the other courts in the countrys legal system

telling the truth and who is not. They should briefly note
their guesses.
When asked, the students in Group 1 should hold up
one of their pieces of paper, revealing whether they told
the truth or lied. Did Group 2 guess right? (If you want
to make this competitive, write up on the board how
many correct guesses the group made.)
Students now swap roles, with Group 1 asking Group
2 the second question, and so on until all the questions
have been asked. Students can add further questions of
their own if they wish to extend the game.

7 A game
Teachers notes
Divide the students into two groups. Tell the students in
Group 1 to take one piece of card for each student in
the group. On half of them, they should write A LIE and,
on the other half, THE TRUTH. (You can prepare cards
before the lesson instead, if you prefer.) They should
then shuffle the cards and give one to each student in
the group. They must take care that no one in the other
group sees their card.
Someone in Group 2 asks Group 1 the first question.
Group 1 take turns to answer it, either lying or telling the
truth, as per their card.

NEWS LESSONS / A new form of lie-detector test / Advanced

Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

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Group 2, the researchers, must listen and watch


carefully as each student in Group 1 gives their answer,
and they must then discuss quietly who they think is

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