Anachronistic Progress? User Notions of Lie Detection in the Juridical Field

Bettina Paul, Larissa Fischer, Torsten H. Voigt

Abstract


In recent years, progress in the field of lie detection has been linked to technological advances from classic polygraphs to neuroscientific brain imaging. In our empirical investigation, however, we found different notions of progress that do not comply with the popular understanding of progress as technological innovation. We follow the users of lie detection procedures in Germany in order to discern how they embrace seemingly old technologies and frame them in terms of novelty and improvement. We identify two notions of progress: one view of the polygraph in the juridical field as an instrument for procedural justice, and another view in which the device functions as a symbol of openness to improvements in the judicial system. These insights complement contemporary scholarship on lie detection by shining a critical light on the rhetoric of progress in relation to the promises of brain-based lie detection procedures. When analyzing the way polygraph tests are seen as progress, it becomes clear that the promises and hopes that are linked to this technology are of more relevance for its appraisal than its placement in time.


Keywords


technological change; progress; anachronism; technological persistence; lie detection; polygraph

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17351/ests2020.433



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