The polygraph machine isn't really used to detect anything, but rather as a tool to enhance the interrogation. Remember, the suspect is only being questioned because they think he did it. The purpose is still to get him to admit it. The point of the polygraph was to give the secret inquisition the illusion of legitimacy.


“Lie detectors” have been around for thousands of years, usually involving some sort of ordeal — trial by fire, by water, by being able to spit out a mouthful of grains without them sticking — magical ordeals where one’s physiological response (wounds, pain, death, dry mouth) revealed whether one was telling the truth or not. They were hardly scientific.

The first “scientific” lie detector was probably the systolic blood pressure meter, invented in 1915 by a young psychologist named William Moulton Marston. Marston’s blood pressure meter later became an integral part of the invention known as the polygraph machine, which also measured other physiological responses to stress. The polygraph isn’t terribly scientific — its accuracy isn’t so great, and polygraph exams aren’t administered by trained psychologists, but rather by cops who craft the various questions to be asked and who divine whether the physiological results indicate a lie. It’s still more or less a magical ordeal.

In 1940, Marston went on to create the comic book superheroine Wonder Woman… whose weapons of course include the magical “Lasso of Truth.”

Comics: Making the world a better, more magical place.


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