What do you think what is porkie talkie?
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TRUTH is stranger than diction. Consumers arebeing of fered a new weapon: a hand held lie detector which its manufacturer claims is able to spot stress in a salesman`s pattter when he is telling a fib.
The machine based on cold war technology developed by the CIA measures the sound generated by involuntary muscle constrictions in the voice box. Such constrictions tend to increase when someone is under stress such as when they are lying.
It is now being launched on the high street as a tool against dodgy doubleglazing sales men secondhand car dealers and of course gushing estate agents. Short of strapping an estate agent to a polygraph machine to detect changes in the electroconductivity of the skin or administering a truth drug to a sales assistant in a dress shop it has been nigh on possible to tell if you are being spun a line. Until now.
At just under E£30 a time the "porkie talkie" means that most people can at least be economical with finding the truth.
The device called the Truth Machine looks like a circuit board from the back of a tele vision set sandwiched between two Perspex plates and operates on a 9 volt battery. Daka Research its manufacturer claims it has two key indicators: the psychological stress evaluator and the voice stress analyser. In practice the machine lights up according to the stress levels in someone`s voice. Red lights mean high tension and are indicative of spinning a line or lying; green lights mean low tension and the truth.
Last week reporters from The Sunday Times put the Truth Machine to the test on a selection of people, ranging from Peter Mandelson`s estate agent to a self-confessed conrnan.
Ann Canning, of Marsh and Parsons, the estate agents handling the sale of Mandelson`s £785,000 house in Notting Hill, west London, offered a number of two-bedoom properties for sale at prices ranging between £300,000 and £450,000. "It is a good investment," she claimed, despite the machine`s light flicking constantly yellow (middle tension) or red.
The Truth Machine blushed again when Canning recommended a house on the trendy Portobello Road, west London, and said the road was quiet apart from Saturday mornings. With their accommodation sorted, the reporters decided to furnish it with some antiques from a gallery on Portobello Road. The manager showed them a £600 Indonesian teak display cabinet. He said it was genuine and dated from the 19th century; the Truth Machine, dating to the late 20th century, begged to differ and showed red. Used car salesmen lived up to their reputation. Russell Lewis of County Garages in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, launched into a familiar sales pitch as soon as a reporter walked into his office. "There is nothing to dislike about this one," he said, pointing to an £8,999 Rover coups. "If you are prepared to give me your business today I will give you a price that will make you happy." The Truth Machine went into overdrive, showing Ferrari red.
Trust in human nature was restored by a sales assistant at the Karen Millen shop in Kings Road, west London. Her suggestions to the female reporter who was trying on a black suit from the new colletion kept the machine happy, with the green light being the assistant`s favourite colour.
Over ripe vegetables soon changed the colour scheme. We asked Lawrence, a stallholder in Leicester market yesterday whether his produce was fresh. `Of course, everything is fresh. Whatever we don`t sell today we bin it." Our fibometer matched the colour of his tomatoes.
How to test it once and for all? We tried it on "Rocky" Ryan, the former Hollywood stuntnian and legendary hoaxer whose tall stories have sent tabloid reporters scurrying off to South Africa in search of Lord Lucan and had television cameras besieging his north London flat in the mistaken belief that Michael Jackson was staying there. But the machine
went red every time he uttered a word true or false.
David Menicks, managing director of Mayhem, which distributes the machine in Britain, said it was best to mon- itor people on continuous speech rather than on simple answers of yes and no. The best results were obtained when there was no background noise.
Menicks who has so far sold 5,000 of the devices, said: "It is a gimmick but it does exactly what it claims to do. I have tested it on Tony Blair on television during parliamentary question time and you can see where he is stressed and it goes into the medium tension bit and occasionally into the red."
Jonathon Elvidge managing irector of the Gadget Shop, which sells the machine at its 26 branches, said: "I keep one on my desk as a psychological weapon." When we played back the tape of our conversation with him, the machine somehow wavered into the red. Additional reporting: Rebecca Bradley
sunday times feb 99