Lying does not stress Muslims?

Stratfor, in their latest Intelligence Report claim

WTF? Can anyone shed some light on this matter?

Edit: I just noticed that the report link brings up a login screen. Workaround is to go to Google, put in “Signs of a Sophisticated Intelligence Apparatus” and ‘feel lucky’.

I think the best light anyone can shed on the matter is that, yes, the results of polygraph tests administered to Middle Easterners and Muslims are seriously flawed as a lie detection system, because the results of polygraph tests administered to anyone are seriously flawed as a lie detection system (or much of anything else, for that matter). Polygraphs simply don’t produce useful information. But people are so committed to believing they do, they want so badly to believe that a machine with such abilities exists, that they’ll invent outrageous explanations to excuse themselves from the evidence before them of its worthlessness. (It doesn’t hurt to have xenophobia to fall back on).

Can one swear in General Questions without disguising it in an acronym? I feel it would be helpful to describe the merit of polygraphs, the level of outrageousness of these excuses, and my attitude at the whole thing.

As Indistinguishable points out. Polygraph tests are complete bullshit. They are loved by a contingent of law enforcement because they are subjective bullshit. It allows them to brow beat people with what they (the law enforcement personnel) believe is the truth.

This report is showing that when you need the information as opposed to a conviction they are not very useful.

Ah, yes, there’s the first word I was hoping to use.


Exactly. They are nearly worthless for actually determing if someone is lying. What their primary Law Enforcement use is subjective reading to claim that the test proves that the Perp is lying so the fool confesses.

(They do measure stress. But if you are innocent of a crime, you can certainly still be stressed out about it.)

Before this thread becomes about something tangential, I should clarify that I’m not interested about polygraphs. I’ve read enough about those.

The report is claiming

a)Muslims don’t stress as much as Western Christians during lying. Presumably, it’s easier for them, because of “cultural and religious reasons”

b)the US government believes that polygraph administered to Muslims are seriously flawed, thus implying that they don’t believe this for others. Hence, the USG believes (a). The true merits/demerits of polygraphs are irrelevant here.

Is there any documentation or evidence that USG does believe (a)? Any scholarly research on the matter? Folklore?

Additionally, some people are completely immune to the polygraph. My father had a hell of a time getting his security clearance: they ask you some questions that they tell you to lie about so that they have an idea of how your test will respond to the lies, before they ask you the real questions, and apparently he hardly tripped the thing at all. They got so frustrated with him that he eventually just started licking his palms so the machine could pick up some sweat and register anything at all.

Polygraphs aren’t wholly reliable - there’s a not insignificant percentage of false negatives and false positives - but they aren’t totally useless either. A properly administered polygraph test yields accurate results for most people. In light of the OP’s question, I’d modify that to most people in cultures where kids are raised to believe that lying is bad.

I find the assertion raised in the OP credible, as it brings to mind various things I’ve read about the culture in question. One thing, which we saw at the beginning of the current war in Iraq, is that saving face is much more important than telling the truth. Remember the Iraqi information minister emphatically pronouncing that the American forces were nowhere to be seen when they were in plain view coming up behind him? Apparently to admit that one has been bested is much worse than the defeat itself. Get the crap kicked out of you and say you’ll wipe up the floor with the guy who just put you on said floor and you’re a man. Acknowledge that he beat you up and you’re a pathetic wimp.

Another thing I recall reading some time ago was the frustration Westerners might have trying to get directions. Ask “which way to the Post Office?” and you might get a helpful answer, but ask “is this the way to the Post Office?” and you’ll get a “yes,” regardless of where it is. “Is this the way?” suggests that you think it is or might be the way, and they don’t want to tell you you’re wrong as they feel that would shame you.

So my impression is that regard for the truth is not a high priority in Middle Eastern/Muslim culture, and I can see how they would tend not to feel guilty about lying the way most Westerners do. That would make polygraph tests useless on them.

This is certainly true throughout East Asia - “face” is tremendousy important. Hadn’t heard it about the midde east though, though perhaps I just don’t know - can anyone enlighten me?

Uh, I think we’re going to need to start cites on these. Everything I’ve ever read implies that they are, in fact, totally useless: they don’t objectively measure anything except what the test administrator believes to be true (most damningly, the exact same full set of traces can mean “lie” for one person, and “truth” for another–based solely on the “determination of the expert.” That’s pretty much how psychics work, not scientists.)

Here’s an article discussing it. and a link to scepdic’s page, which has lots of follow-up links (The Sceptic’s Dictionary itself is more opinion than science, but the links mostly hold up to cite-worthiness). The best I can find there is some statements to the effect that there’s a weak correlation between readings and falsehood, but nothing nearly so strong as “accurate results for most people.” In fact, pretty much every link says otherwise, which is why basically every scientific organization (and most courts) are against their use.

I heard that polygraphs work sometimes, but that they are not admissable in court due to their unreliability.
Do you have a % figure of how well they work?

I agree there are cultures where face is important (Japan for example).
However everything you say certainly applies to Western politicians, who will dodge, obfusticate, meander, confuse and lie to avoid being shown as incompetent or wrong.

This is what I’ve heard also, i.e. in many middle eastern countries lying does not have the same stigma as it does in western countries. Preserving honor is more important than anything else, including telling the truth. Here is a good article on it:

As I understand things, which sometimes is way off, but anyway, the lie detectors don’t detect lieing but a feeling of guilt through biological reactions. Muslems are instructed to lie to non-muslems if it was to further the goal of Alah, so there is no guilt associated with it and nothing to detect.

As I understand it, it’s more “stress” than guilt. But I wouldn’t mind a cite for the second thing, and I believe Allah is spelt with two l’s.

Thanks for the spelling correction and yes stress is a much better and correct way to put it.

Different cultures can be vastly, totally incompatible with our modern way of thinking.
Compare how much our own Western culture of today is different from our own western culture of previous centuries. Think of the famous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton: in which two of the most senior politicians in the country agreed that it was appropriate to try to murder each other, over issues of personal honor . It boggles the mind to us, but to them it was totally logical; honor was the highest value–more important than lying, more important than life itself.

Similarly, some cultures today, including most muslim countires openly practice “family honor” killings, in which a father murders his own daughter for disgracing him.
So it may well be possible that lie-detector tests designed by a western culture do not work as well on people from other cultures.

First i’d like to say I like your cite, since it actually links to the relevant Qur’an verses. But I (and your cite) suggest it is merely permitted to lie when the result will further the cause of Islam (and to protect oneself), rather than instructed to lie. Possibly a semantic difference, but I would say it’s the difference between a command and an acceptance.

I can accept that, but for the OP it seems like someone who things they are following the law of God would not have the stress levels needed to trigger the detector.

Note that the OP did not say westerners are less likely to lie… just that they feel more anxiety about it. Not that they’re tossing and turning in their beds at night, just enough anxiety to produce that 1 microliter of perspiration it takes to set off a lie detector.

I suspect that polygraphs would have the best results when the test-taker and test-administrator are from nearly identical cultural backgrounds. Good examiners are able to detect very subtle hints of deception and stress, and adjust their questioning strategy to get supporting data from the machine.