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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Algorithm Shows When Politicians Are Lying

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We've written before about how mathematics can bring us amazing revelations. Now a mathematician in Canada says that he can use math to tell when a politician is lying. With our own election coming up in 2008, this is something we can use.
Here's how Skillicorn developed his algorithm: he analyzed the usage patterns of a group of around 100 words that are often linked to lying, when used by politicians. He then determined how often these words were used in the candidates' political speeches. Martin ranked 124, Layton 88 and Harper 73. The higher the number, the more spin they used.
The algorithm is based on one that was created at the University of Texas by James Pennebaker. While studying the lies of hundreds of participants, he uncovered word patterns linked to deception. One of these is the use of fewer personal pronouns, such as I, we, me and us. Another is a decrease in the use of the words "however" and "unless." These patterns are probably subconscious. This may sound like a plot from the TV show Numbers, but it's happening in real life.

posted by NEXUS  # 9:02 AM


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