Saturday, April 28, 2007

Lies and the Information Age

For a somewhat different perspective on the so-called modern information age, I recommend Ken Adler's The Lie Dectectors: The History of an American Obsession (New York: Free Press, 2007). Adler examines the origins of the lie detector in the 120s and its emergence, use, and controversies -- as well as an array of colorful supporters -- during its few decades. Adler is intent on trying to figure out how and why a machine, so often criticized, has managed to survive, ultimately concluding, "The lie detector cannot be killed by science, because it is not born of science. Its habitat is not the laboratory or even the courtroom, but newsprint, film, television, and of course the pulps, comic books, and science fiction" (p. 251). This is an engaging exploration about the relationship of technology, science or pseudo-science, and society.

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