You want the truth? It's a bit disappointing

features review (adelaide) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Published 26 Feb 2019

For as long as humans have existed they have thirsted for truth, and there's an undeniable appeal to a machine that offers the ability to look into another's soul. That appeal is why more than two and a half million lie detector tests were conducted in the US last year alone. Unfortunately, those tests have been largely discredited by the scientific community.

Billed as a 'dubious scientific experiment', TRUTHMACHINE explains the science and pseudoscience behind polygraph tests and how they can be subverted. It also subjects one random audience member to a lie detector test while others watch.

Biometric sensors are strapped to the chosen participant, who is given a series of innocuous calibration questions before the real interrogation starts. The test, it turns out, is how easily embarrassed they are. They are subjected to a series of intimate questions about their past (some unnecessarily crass in an attempt to induce embarrassment) and at times it's enough to make even the onlookers squirm.

When every question is answered truthfully, even the potentially embarrassing ones, it feels as if the questioners are disappointed at the lack of shame and the show wraps up soon after. At just 20 minutes, the level of investment is low but it feels unneccesarily exploitative and the reward is commensurate.