From ECR 2004:
More science and love, less fiction
fter last year’s great success of EPOS, the Electronic Presentation Online System of the ECR, the congress organizers have warmed up to more high-technology features. Several new ideas were considered by the committees in charge and it was decided that another system should be tried out this year.
One of the decisive factors for the choice was ethics in research. It has long been a nightmare for congress organizers and scientific paper reviewers, in general, how to determine the validity and reliability of scientific communications. Fraud, slander, theft, and misrepresentation should be kept out of scientific meetings such as the ECR.
According to an article in the British newspaper “The Guardian”, the psychologist Gerald Jellison claims that the average citizen like you and me tells 200 lies a day . Personally, I doubt this statement, because recently I read elsewhere that an average man does not speak more than 14,000 words per day (women more than 24,000). Because you have to say something substantial besides lies, for instance: “Another beer, please”, men cannot tell 200 lies per day.
There are, of course, exceptions: for instance politicians and car salesmen. We would like to hold on to the notion that the scientific community does not fall into this category. However, there are enough recent and historical cases that make us wonder.
One finds small or bigger lies in a number of presentations at congresses, also at ECR – from the most extreme cases of manufacturing data and altering experimental results to using someone else’s text or data without acknowledgement. More difficult are the borderline cases: minor fudging of data, reporting only the good results and not citing other people’s work that should be given credit. Probe a bit more deeply into scientific activities, and you will find that fraud is neither clear-cut nor rare.
Therefore, this year ECR has introduced a feature called UNDIES, an electronic device that detects untrue, invented, or stolen scientific results. It follows the United States Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 and replaces the ancient polygraph test that functioned like an ECG. Speakers at a conference do not like pads attached to their bodies to measure changes in respiration, blood pressure, pulse, sweat, and galvanic skin response, particularly because it is disputed how reliable such polygraph tests are.
For some years, however, Amir Liberman’s software is available on the market. It can analyse the human voice. When people lie, their speech changes in ways inaudible to the human ear. This patented software has been integrated into the “Vericator” technology and become available as a range of affordable hand-held appliances, phone clip-ons and computer packages. Handy Truster, “the world’s first personal lie detector”, is only US$39.95, plus post and packing.
This affordable price made this new technology attractive for ECR. Every lecture during the ECR will be monitored by it. The chairmen (and female chairpersons) are advised to add the results of the “Vericator” examination to their own evaluation of the lectures. ECR thinks about adapting the technology to its needs and introducing it to replace peer reviewing at scientific meetings and, at a later stage, scientific papers submitted to European Radiology. Authors will have to read out the papers on CD-ROM or DVD, together with the submission of hard- and softcopies of the paper. There is a big market for sublicensing it to other congress organizers.
One of the great advantages of the technology is its feature to detect deep emotional feelings. The added “Love-Detection” algorithm is measuring the presence of stable and deep emotional activity and high concentration levels, detected in the high-frequency range of the human voice. The technology analyses a very specific frequency range for constant appearances, to differentiate from regular excitement caused by an event or a changing situation.
“The new technology enables users to measure the level of arousal the other party to the conversation experiences while speaking with them, and get a “hint” from a non-biased source whether or not the other party is interested in their intimate relations. The analysis is conducted online during any conversation, even about general and unrelated issues. The new technology also warns about the other party’s embarrassment and concentration levels.” 
ECR estimates an increase of up to 40% in both congress attendance and quality of science with the new combined electronic tools. People in the audience will get access to the results and know whether a speaker (a) has lied scientifically, and (b) is ready for some non-scientific activities.
1. John Sutherland. Would I lie to you? Well, now you can find out one way or the other, for just $39.95 plus p&p. The Guardian. Monday, 24 November 2003.
2. Nemesysco Ltd. Announces “Love-Sense” - The First ever PC voice analysis software that can detect Love! Press release. Tel-Aviv, 7 October 2002. http://www.lover-voice.com