How Can I Take the Necessary Steps If You Won't Give Back My Shoes?

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"Have you ever lied to the authorities?" That's a question the Russian security service will begin asking passengers at Moscow's Domodedovo airport this summer, reports the Wash Times:

Millions of passengers traveling through Russia soon will have to take a lie detector test as part of new airport security measures that could eventually be applied throughout the country.

The machine asks four questions: The first is for full identity; the second, unnerving in its Soviet-style abruptness, demands: "Have you ever lied to the authorities?" It then asks whether either weapons or narcotics are being carried.

To cut delays, passengers will take the tests after taking off their shoes and putting baggage through the X-ray machines. He doesn't get his shoes back until he satisfactorily answers the questions.

Some clarification would be helpful here: Which authorities? Is there a statute of limitations? Do lies to third-grade schoolteachers about missing math homework count? No word on any of that, but an official reassures:

"We can understand that something like this could be uncomfortable for some passengers, but it is a necessary step."

NEXT: Mario, Our Muse

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  1. Wouldn’t be surprised if that question was just there to calibrate the machine, on the assumption that everyone’s truthful answer would be “yes”. Still, creepy.

  2. A better quetsion would be “Do you always lie to authorities?”

    Reminds me of my logic classes. 🙂

  3. Everything I say is a lie.

  4. In darkest Africa, two roads diverge into the yellow wood. The traveler knows that one road leads to the tribe of the Truth Tellers; the other, the tribe of the Liars; but he doesn’t know which road goes where.

    The traveler decides to ask a man who is standing at the fork in the road for directions on how to get to the Truth Tellers. But the traveler cannot tell if the man belongs to the Truth Teller or the Liar tribe.

    What question does the traveller ask?

  5. (Oh, in case you haven’t figured it out, members of the Truth Teller tribe always tell the truth, and members of the Liar tribe are Demo.. er, always lie.)

  6. Tell ’em whatever you want:

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/polygraph/ota/conc.html

    In sum, OTA concluded that there is at present only limited scientific evidence for establishing the validity of polygraph testing. Even where the evidence seems to indicate that polygraph testing detects deceptive subjects better than chance (when using the control question technique in specific-incident criminal investigations), significant error rates are possible, and examiner and examinee differences and the use of countermeasures may further affect validity.

  7. What question does the traveller ask?

    Well, I’d ask “which road do you take to get home?”. The truth-teller points toward the truth-tellers, and so does the liar. That’s assuming I -want- to hear a bunch of truths, though.

    Asking him “your ass or a hole in the ground?” might yield interesting results as well.

  8. Have the authorities ever lied to me?

  9. “Have the authorities ever lied to me?”

    No shoes for you!

  10. How do you know if the man is a member of either tribe? He may point back the way you came, then you’re still screwed. 🙂

  11. The news story says this technology is already being used in Britain to screen calls to insurance claim lines for fraud. Assuming that there’s only one such system, I’ve seen it tested on Braniac — and it didn’t work. (Granted, it was a pretty limited test, but given that one person was outrageously lying and it still showed a “truthful” result, it didn’t inspire confidence in me.)

  12. (Oh, in case you haven’t figured it out, members of the Truth Teller tribe always tell the truth, and members of the Liar tribe are Demo.. er, always lie.)

    Okay, I’m a sucker, I’ll bite. If you think the Democrats lie more often than other politicians, you are very quick to believe Republican lies.

  13. “members of the Liar tribe are Demo..”

    Oh…I know how to finish that one!

    Demo…nstratively pious Republican ratfink pantloads

    This is fun!

  14. “Which road leads to his village?” Both will point to the village of liars, if you want the truth you can go the other way.

  15. “We can understand that something like this could be uncomfortable for some passengers, but it is a necessary step.”

    Oh, well, all right then, carry on. Sorry if my discomfort made you uncomfortable or anything. What do people usually leave you as a gratuity?

  16. Couldn’t they substitute the lie-detector machines with lie-detector illegal immigrants?

  17. The answer is, as every ST fan who’s seen I, Mudd should know:

    “Are you lying?”

    The truth teller will say no, but the liar will be unable to settle on an answer.

  18. If I were to ask you which way to the Truth Tellers, which way would you point?

  19. Umm, never mind, I think Timothy was right, as both would answer “no” to “Are you lying?” :-

  20. No wonder Georgie and the Rethugs love Putin and his new and improved Russia so much.

    Bet this is just making them drool with envy. Soon Georgie, soon…

  21. “If you haven’t done anything wrong you don’t have to worry.” Iteration…

    Damn. Lost count again.

  22. NoStar has the answer. (It’s a pretty old conundrum.)

  23. They did that truth/liar thing in that movie labyrinth, starring a young jennifer connelly, and a not so young david bowie. LABYRINTH!

  24. Scott, When I first encountered this puzzle in a logic class at the University of Washington, the professor had never encountered my answer. He was only familiar with questions that gave a wrong answer that the questioner would reverse.

    This was over 30 years ago. I remember that in the class of 200, two other people came up with the same answer.

  25. NoStar.

    No star. A Truthteller would point down the road to the Truthtellers. A Liar would point down the road to the Liars. That question doesn’t help at all.

    The question should be, “Which road goes to your village?” The Truthteller would point down the road to the Truthtellers, and so would the Liar.

  26. Joe – It’s a little obscure, but NoStar’s version still works, because it’s “If I WERE TO ASK YOU which way to the Truth Tellers, which way would you point?” If you actually asked a Liar “which way to the Truthtellers?”, he’d point to the Liars, but since you’re asking him a kind of meta-question about his answer, he’ll lie about that, and therefore point to the Truthtellers.

    Or you could ask him “If I asked you if the Reason server squirrels will eat my post…” Grrr.

  27. Thanks JD, The squirrels ate my attempt at a reply three times. Unless I’m from the village of the Habitual Liars, then I would be a member of Bush Administration.

  28. Thanks JD, The squirrels ate my attempt at a reply three times. Unless I’m from the village of the Habitual Liars, then I would be a member of Bush Administration.

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