Tag Archives: truth

Hard Truths: Justice, Injustice, And O.J. Simpson

I understand that not everything I say on this blog is going to be popular, sexy, or funny. I don’t doubt that there are opinions I’ve shared and jokes I’ve told that haven’t gone over well. There may be even a few people out there who have read them and felt the urge to punch me in the face through their computer screen.

I understand that. It’s just part of the internet. You’re going to say things people hate and meet people who hate your guts. I’m sure there are people who still haven’t forgiven me for my post on the mind of misogynistic men. I won’t apologize for saying what I say, but please understand that I don’t say it with the intention of hurting or upsetting people.

I say all this as a preface, of sorts, because I know some of the things I’ll say in this post are going to upset some people. If not on this post, I’m sure there will be other posts that draw anger, disgust, and disagreement. Some of these issues are not as innocent as sex robots, Wonder Woman’s BDSM origins, or the sexiness of chest hair. They’re real, serious issues.

The issue, in this case, has to do with something that’s fairly timely in the sense that it often comes up this time of year. Just this past week was the 23rd anniversary of the infamous O.J. Simpson Bronco chase. It happened on June 17th, 1994. It was one of those days where everyone remembers where they were. It’s also one of those days where everyone formed an ardent opinion that still divides people to this day.

At the time, I was fairly young and didn’t really understand the gravity of what was going on. I kept hearing the name O.J. Simpson in the news. I kept seeing people watch the trial on TV, talk about it, and obsess over it. Being so young, I thought it was annoying. All that talk about O.J. Simpson cut into time I’d rather be using to read comics, watch cartoons, and play video games.

I guess you can say I’m part of a generation that only ever knew O.J. Simpson as the alleged murderer who got away with it. Pretty much anyone born before 1982 only knows this side of O.J. Simpson. When they hear his name, they usually think of the Bronco chase, the trial, and the bloody glove. They don’t think of the larger context.

There are members of my own family, as well as major news figures like Keith Olbermann, who’ve tried to explain to me just how big a deal this was. It’s hard for them to convey to people of my generation just how beloved O.J. Simpson once was. Between his Hall of Fame football career, his acting career, and his iconic Hertz commercials, it’s impossible to overstate just how popular this man was.

There was actually a time when the name O.J. Simpson had many positive connotations. He was a celebrity sports icon whose popularity transcended race, class, and everything in between. For someone like him to be accused of a ghastly double-murder was akin to Captain America becoming a Nazi. Actually, that’s a bad example.

It’s because of that other side of O.J. Simpson, namely the one that people of my generation never saw, that his trial became the “Trial of the Century.” That trial, and the controversial verdict that followed, still divides America to this day, often among racial lines.

If you want to have an uncomfortable conversation about race, justice, injustice, and the legal system, pretty much every distressing element you can think of is highlighted by the O.J. Simpson case. It involves spousal abuse, police corruption, racism, media spectacles, and the Kardashian family. Even today, this kind of spectacle would check all the right boxes to become a total media shit storm.

There are so many aspects of the murder trial, the aftermath, the media circus, and the tenuous relationship O.J. Simpson had with his ex-wife, Nichole, that I could highlight. In every case, there are elements to that story that are both unsexy and controversial, dividing and enraging people of every opinion.

However, there’s only one part I want to single out for this particular post. It’s probably going to upset more people than most. I might even get some hate for it. That said, it’s one of those hard truths that needs to be said, even if it’s uncomfortable. Brace yourself because here it is.

The jury in the O.J. Simpson trial got it RIGHT.

Now, it’s my turn to brace myself. I know that opinion isn’t very popular. I also know most of the people in my own family disagree with it. I’ve talked to close relatives about it. They’re all convinced that O.J. Simpson is guilty. They all believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that O.J. brutally murdered his ex-wife and Ronald Goldman. There’s nothing anyone can say or do that can convince them otherwise.

Therein lies the problem, though. It’s one that I’ve pointed out before when I’ve talked about reasons, excuses, and the idea of excuse banking. We all like to think of ourselves as rational, logical human beings that Spock from Star Trek would get along with. In reality, we’re nothing of the sort.

Our brains don’t work through logic. Our brains can use it, but it’s only every a secondary function. Our default caveman setting is to form an irrational opinion first and then look for ways to justify it. It doesn’t matter if it’s racist, sexist, or wholly irrational. That’s how our brains work. That’s how most people look at the O.J. Simpson case.

The problem is, from a legal point of view, that our justice system does everything it can to circumvent those flaws and it’s not always good at it. There’s a reason why criminal justice reform is a major topic these days. The justice system is woefully inefficient at dealing with all crime fairly, especially those committed by minorities.

That’s part of what makes the O.J. Simpson case such an important case, but not for the reason you might think. The reason why it matters so much and why it’s such a harsh truth to digest is because the O.J. Simpson trial highlighted how the justice system is supposed to work. In a perfect world, every criminal would get the kind of legal defense that O.J. Simpson got. The fact that O.J. is black only makes the truth that much harder.

Like it or not, the O.J. Simpson trial got right one of the most important elements of our criminal justice system, at least with respect on how it’s supposed to work. It is built around the idea that a defendant is presumed innocent and must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

It can’t just be probable that someone is guilty. It can’t just be likely either. To convict someone of a serious felony, like a double murder, it has to be beyond any reasonable doubt. That’s a very lofty standard and for good reason.

Legal systems in modern western societies emphasize ensuring guilt and not punishing the innocent. There’s a callous practical reason for that too. In a society built around a modern economy, we can’t have the state throwing innocent people in prisons who could otherwise be working and contributing. That’s why if someone is accused of a crime, the system has to make damn sure that they’re guilty.

In O.J. Simpson’s case, and I know this is going to make a lot of people gnash their teeth on a cinder-block, there was reasonable doubt. Pretty much all the evidence against O.J. was either circumstantial or hearsay. On top of that, the LAPD had a sordid history of corruption and racial bias. Police do frame suspects and innocent people do get charged with crimes they didn’t commit.

Unlike most of those innocent people, though, O.J. Simpson had access to the best legal help that money could buy. Those men might be despised now for defending O.J. However, there’s no getting around it. They did their jobs. They did exactly what a lawyer is supposed to do.

They revealed the reasonable doubt surrounding the case and, as upsetting as it might have been, there was reasonable doubt. The blood evidence was immense, but so was the evidence of improper handling and corruption from the officers involved. There are a great many theories as to what actually happened, but that doesn’t matter in the end.

The mere presence of that doubt meant that the jury did the right thing in acquitting O.J. Simpson. It’s a painful truth, especially to the families of Nichole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Their story will always be the biggest tragedy of the O.J. Simpson case. However, as hard as it is to accept, the justice system was right in this case.

There’s so much more to the O.J. Simpson story that I could talk about. I’m going to avoid it because any discussion about this case is bound to trigger all sorts of anger and outrage. If you want to hear more about this topic, including O.J. Simpson, check out the Unpopular Opinion podcast. They’re usually pretty balanced and pretty funny as well.

Short of a confession, complete with photographs and a bloody knife, we’ll never know what happened in the O.J. Simpson case. It’s that inability to truly know that’s the hardest to accept. Our caveman brains just can’t deal with that kind of uncertainty so we cling to our opinions and excuses.

Personally, I think it’s likely that O.J. did murder his ex-wife and Ron Goldman. At the very least, I think he had something to do with it. However, I don’t know all the facts. Nobody knows all the facts. That’s why, in the context of justice, his acquittal was the right thing to do.

It’s for that very reason, though, that we need a justice system that works around that. We, as a people, are at the mercy of our caveman brains and its inability to use logic properly. That’s the biggest challenge of our justice system, having to deal with all these shortcomings. It’s not perfect. For the O.J. Simpson case, at least, we see first-hand how it’s supposed to work, even if we don’t like the outcome.

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How To Make Sense Of The World In One Easy Step

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When it comes to politics, the news, or general advice, I try to avoid it as best I can on this blog. I want this blog to be a refuge and reprieve from the vast, stinky ass crack that is the real world and the parts of the internet that amplify the smell. That’s why I prefer talking about less dire subjects like sex robots and sex-positive comic book characters.

If I do talk about something that’s in the news or controversial, I usually try to put a humorous and/or sexy spin on it. I don’t want to push an agenda, start a movement, or leader a rally. That’s just too much time and effort that could be better spent talking about hot teachers and bionic penises.

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I know that I sometimes give the impression that I have an agenda beyond selling my novels. I try to minimize that, but sometimes it’ll slip through. I try to avoid it, but I’m not going to apologize either. I’m only human. Every now and then, something I write or say will have some sort of connotation to real world news, events, etc. At the end of the day, I want to make this blog as sexy and fun as my novels.

That being said, I’d like to do something a little different today. No, I’m not going on some sort of political rant. I’m not going to get on a soap box, hold up a sign, and start talking about shape-shifting lizard people. I’ll leave that sort of thing to Alex Jones or the character/troll he allegedly plays.

Instead, I’d like to offer a bit of insight to those still struggling to make sense of the world, the news, and the people claiming that fluoride is an elaborate mind control scheme. It’s not necessarily advice. I’m an aspiring erotica/romance writer. I’m as qualified to give advice as I am to build a star ship.

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What I’m offering here is perspective, a precious commodity in a world where everyone has the means of muting messages they don’t want to hear. Anyone who watches the news for more than ten minutes or spends more than five searching for it on their Facebook feed is sure to be overwhelmed, upset, and confused.

It’s just too easy to filter out the news and facts you don’t like. It’s too easy to mold your own agenda into a neat little package that makes you feel content to some extent. Sometimes we do too good a job. Sometimes our agenda is so nice and neat that it does everything other than give us oral sex.

That’s why we need perspective. That’s why we need to step back, see the bigger picture, and understand that we all embrace our own particular brand of fake news, alternative facts, and elaborate excuses. It’s the only way to truly make sense of the world, at least as much as our caveman brains will allow us.

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So here’s how you do it. There’s only one step. It’s free. It’s simple. There’s no complicated instruction manual. It can all be boiled down into three simple words. Brace yourself because this is going to either rock your world, break your heart, or make you yawn. Take a moment if you need to. If not, read along because here it is. Here is the secret to making sense of a chaotic world full of crazy people.

Nobody Knows ANYTHING

Go on. Roll your eyes and laugh. Start calling me names in the comments.  Call me a cuck, a troll, or an agent of the Illuminati. I don’t expect this to blow anyone’s mind or soak anyone’s panties beyond a certain extent. It is, however, as true and honest insight as you’ll ever find in the era of fake news.

Now, I can’t claim to have come up with this on my own. This little bit of insight is actually something one of my old college professors told me on the first day of his class. Before you roll your eyes again, know that this professor could easily have been mistaken for a hobo who just robbed a fancy clothing store. Imagine every pipe-smoking professor you’ve ever had. Now imagine the exact opposite. That’s this guy.

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He dropped this incredible truth bomb on us the first day because he wanted to make clear that he would not be giving us the politically correct version of his class. He was going to be honest in as brutal a way he could without getting fired. The fact he was tenured and admitted to working drunk in the past kind of added to his credibility.

So what exactly did he mean when he said those words? How do they relate to what I mean by it? In the grand scheme of things, it has to do with the certainty we all seek. Our caveman brains, for better and for worse, crave certainty and abhor stress. When we have a gap in our knowledge and understanding, we naturally jump at anything to fill it.

Sometimes it’s a certain news source. Sometimes it’s a certain religion. Sometimes it’s a particular political ideology, social club, or even a TV show. Talk to anyone who was a big fan of “Lost.” They’ll put any charismatic preacher to shame.

Since our brains are so crude and aren’t equipped with a google connection (yet), it doesn’t matter whether or not the source we seek is true. It doesn’t even matter of it’s debunked. Our brains still cling to it because changing our minds causes too much stress and we’ll make any excuse to avoid that stress.

That creates an unavoidable paradox of sorts and I’m not talking about the ones Doc Brown worried about in “Back To The Future.” Our caveman brains are so limited, but they’re wired to seek certainty. However, because of those limits, our ability to achieve certainty on complex issues is next to impossible. In most cases, it is impossible.

Nobody knows for sure what the economy will do today, tomorrow, or even two hours from now.

Nobody knows for sure whether a new product will sell or be a flop.

Nobody knows for sure whether a rookie athlete will be a bust or a hall of famer.

Nobody knows for sure whether a particular movie will be a big box office success like “Deadpool” or an unmitigated disaster like “John Carter.”

Nobody knows for sure whether a law, court decision, or executive order will do more harm than good.

Nobody knows for sure how a new piece of technology will affect society.

Nobody knows for sure whether their theories about life, the universe, and everything in between are accurate.

In the end, nobody knows anything. It’s just that simple.

That’s not to say that we should be inherently doubtful of everything. At most, those who make bold proclamations can only make best guesses. It’s not always accurate, but sometimes it’s fairly close. Other times, it’s just dumb luck. Ask the guy who predicted the Chicago Cubs world series victory in 1993.

We can surmise, speculate, and reason all we want. In the end, nobody really knows anything. Nobody can really be certain. Nobody can have all the facts. That’s why people gravitate towards others who express such certainty. It’s akin to having a superpower. In our minds, having that kind of certainty is right up there with Superman, the X-men, or the Avengers.

Unlike superheroes, though, that certainty is self-delusion at best and a scam at worst. Those who at least try to be reasonable, offering facts and best guesses in extrapolating those facts, deserve a chance and some credibility. If they’re honest, they’ll admit they don’t know everything with absolute certainty. They can be fairly confident, but they can never be completely certain.

Keep this in mind the next time you see a news story, an article, a book, a self-help guru, or a religious zealot. They can only claim certainty, but they don’t know any more than you do. They don’t know anything for certain. That doesn’t make them inherently bad. It just makes them misguided.

I hope this perspective helps. I hope the world makes a bit more sense now. I can only do so much as an aspiring erotica/romance writer. Like everyone else, I don’t know anything with certainty. I know only that I want this blog to be both helpful and sexy. This is just another part of that effort.

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Truth, Lies, And Why “Daria” Is More Relevant Now Than Ever Before

For the past couple of days, I’ve been talking about the best and worst when it comes to fictional female characters. Since I deal in fictional characters as an aspiring writer, it’s a relevant topic of discussion. I want to create great female characters for my novels. I think I’ve made some strides with novels like “The Final Communion” and “Holiday Heat,” but I always feel there’s room for improvement.

That brings me back to Daria Morgendorffer from the classic MTV show, “Daria.” In both my lists discussing the best and worst female characters of fiction, “Daria” found a way to the top of the list. There’s a damn good reason for that too. Daria, as a character, represents something that is more relevant now than it ever was in the late 90s.

As I said in my past posts, Daria is one of those characters who was just ahead of their time, but not in a Nikola Tesla or Elon Musk sort of way. She came during an era when dial-up internet was still popular, boy bands were still relevant, and pagers were still in use. It was a strange and different time.

It was also a time when concepts like “alternative facts” and “fake news” were more associated with skits on “Saturday Night Live” than actual concepts that the general public has come to dread. In that sense, Daria is downright prophetic in the sense that she highlights a concept that become increasingly obscure over the past decade.

Throughout the five seasons of “Daria,” as well as two movie specials, one Daria’s most defining traits is her ability to point out the harsh truth that nobody wants to acknowledge. She doesn’t shy away from it. She doesn’t celebrate it either. She just points it out and lets the harsh truth do its thing.

For the overall narrative of this series, this is kind of necessary because Daria is often surrounded by those who constantly avoid the harder truths of life. Sometimes, as with air-headed dumb-asses like Kevin Thompson and Brittney Taylor, it’s out of ignorance. Other times, as with her sister Quinn and her eccentric teachers, it’s out of hopeless self-delusion.

Daria, being an outcast who isn’t afraid to think for herself, sees all of this from a distance and isn’t afraid to point it out. She doesn’t care that it alienates others. Even her sister, Quinn, refused to publicly acknowledge that they were even related until the final season.

Her parents constantly think something is wrong with her. Her teachers and peers constantly think she’s weird. Everyone thinks there’s something wrong with her. Daria even acknowledges that. However, as crass and callous as she may be, Daria may actually be the most sane person in her world.

This is best shown in Season 4, Episode 47 entitled, “Psycho Therapy.” In this episode, Daria’s family undergo a psych evaluation as part of a screening process for her mother’s promotion. It makes for some odd and entertaining escapades, but the most revealing moment comes when he doctors reach a remarkable, albeit unsurprising conclusion.

Daria, despite being so emotionally withdrawn and overtly sarcastic about everything around her, is by far the most well-adjusted person in her family. She understands and acknowledges all of her family’s quirks, but she doesn’t obsess over them or lament over them. She just accepts them and moves on with her life. I’m not a psychologist, but that’s way more healthy than we can expect of most teenagers these days.

In fact, Daria might as well be a unicorn dipped in gold with diamond-encrusted hoofs. She isn’t just accepting, understanding, and well-adjusted to her surroundings. She actively thinks for herself and no one else. She doesn’t shy away from the facts, nor does she avoid their implications. She is, by all accounts, the very antithesis of this current era of buzzwords, fake news, and alternative facts.

That’s what makes her so much more relevant now than she was back in the early 90s. She came at a time when people who said the cold, hard truth didn’t get it twisted through internet memes, social media feeds, and hashtags. Daria doesn’t do beat around the bush or try to twist the story. If something is true, honest, and blunt, then that’s the end of the conversation.

In an era where everyone, from our politicians to our gym teachers, has to have some kind of personality, Daria Morgendorffer is a breath of fresh air and from 1999 no less. What’s that say about our current state of affairs? I could spend the next 38 blog posts discussing it, but that wouldn’t be very sexy for a blog run by an aspiring erotica/romance writer.

I will say, though, that the attitude Daria embodies is something that’s a lot more critical now than it was in 1999. We live in an era where everyone seems intent on joining a trend, becoming part of a movement, or denigrating those who oppose your movement. Daria, being the consummate realist and independent thinker, would roll her eyes at both.

The idea of someone who just thinks for themselves shouldn’t be such a radical concept, especially when it was the core of a successful animated show that ran for five seasons on a network best known for documentaries about teenage mothers. However, that idea couldn’t be more important in 2017.

We current live in an unpleasant convergence, of sorts, where truth and brutal honesty are easily circumvented by fake news, alternative facts, and online trends. It’s too easy for someone to insulate themselves from the harsh realities of life. We all need a Daria Morgendorrfer in our lives to keep us anchored and too many don’t have one.

Being the optimist I am, I believe Daria’s words of wisdom will one day pierce the many veils of bullshit that permeate our culture at the moment. It may take a while. It may be painful, arduous, and distressing in the process. However, that’s exactly why it’s worth doing.

Thankfully, Daria herself gives us some memorable words of wisdom to make the process easier. In the spirit of celebrating everything Daria represents, here it is.

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Sex, Lies, And The Future Of Truth

Admit it. You’ve lied before. Maybe it involved drinking in high school. Maybe it involved  strippers at a bachelor party. Maybe it involved a promise to pull out. Whatever the case may be, regardless of whether you got caught or ended up paying child support, you’ve lied at one point in your life. As the great Dr. House once said, “Everybody lies.”

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with lying. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re lying to tell a story, which is basically what I do as a writer, then it’s not wrong. If done right, it can actually be pretty damn sexy. If you’re lying to deceive a lover, cheat on your taxes, or prevent your children from knowing about condoms, then that’s pushing it.

I bring up lies because, in watching my share of both superhero movies and romantic comedies, there is one common theme that binds many of these conflicts. No, it’s not Robert Downy Jr. or Hugh Jackman’s sex appeal. It’s that a lot of these plots are built on someone lying and working way harder than they need to in order to keep up the lie.

Take “The Proposal” with Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock for example. In addition to being one of my favorite romantic comedies of the past several years, it’s entire plot was built around a lie that Bullock’s character crafted and Reynolds had to help preserve. Sure, it made for a hilariously entertaining story, complete with awkward nude scenes and moments with Betty White, but it was all built on the foundation of a lie.

Why do I bring up lies? Well, to answer that, I’ll have to get a little personal again and this time, it has nothing to do with me sleeping naked.

I’ve gotten a lot of romantic advice over the years from friends and family. Some of it is good. Some of it is bad. Some of it just plain crazy and involves some rather improper uses of food. However, within the good advice I’ve gotten, there was one common theme and it amounted to this.

DON’T KEEP SECRETS.

I write that in all caps and bold because they didn’t just tell me this as a casual aside. They made it a point to really emphasize the importance of being honest with those you love. No relationship can really function in the long run when both sides are keeping secrets. Say what you will about the Bundys or the Simpsons, but they are honest with each other, often brutally so.

Beyond the advice, there are a lot of romantic stories that involve secrets, lies, and deception. It’s not always in the smooth, sophisticated ways of James Bond either. Stories about lies, affairs, and elaborate deceptions are basically the bread and butter of these stories.

I’ve certainly used those themes. In “Skin Deep” and “The Escort and the Gigolo,” a big chunk of the plot is built around certain lies and deception. Not all of them are intentional either. Sometimes, the characters just don’t have a reason to believe someone is telling the truth.

This brings me to another thought experiment of sorts. Granted, it’s not exactly the sexy kind, but it has the potential to be. It involves the ways in which we expose lies. At the moment, we really can’t be 100 percent sure if anyone is telling the truth. We can’t even be 80 percent sure. People who lie, cheat, and manipulate others still operate and thrive in this world. Just ask Bernie Madoff.

Our entire justice system is built on the understanding that we can’t exactly know for sure whether someone is guilty or innocent. We can put them under oath all we want. People can and will still lie. That’s why we have principles that presume innocence and require that we prove guilt, and the lies by default, beyond all reasonable doubt.

As good as our justice system has served us, to a point, it still struggles to uncover lies. It can interrogate and intimidate all it wants. It won’t always be able to get out the truth. In fact, it can even create even more lies in the process.

This is where the thought experiment comes in. What if we had a device that could, with nearly 100 percent accuracy, tell whether someone was lying? What would that do to our justice system? What would that do to our relationships with others? Would it effectively force us to be more honest with our friends, family, and intimate lovers?

This is another one of those thought experiments that isn’t overly fanciful. Creating devices to detect lies is not a new idea. In fact, it’s been in development for over a century.

Contrary to popular belief, however, there is no functioning “lie detector” yet. Those who claim there is are probably referring to a polygraph. A polygraph is not a lie detector. If anything, it’s a stress detector. It doesn’t detect lies. It detects the stresses on your body. I’m sorry if this completely changes how you see “Meet The Parents,” but that’s the hard truth.

For that reason, the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that the vast majority of research on the use of a polygraph for lie detection is unreliable, bias, and unscientific. It’s also why polygraph tests aren’t considered a reliable form of evidence in a court of law.

This is because it is possible to fool a polygraph. It’s been done before. There are even entire YouTube videos dedicated to helping people beat a polygraph. As a lie detector, it’s not much better than flipping a coin.

Beyond the polygraph, which only measures physiological responses, there is another emerging technology called fMRI, or Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. This technology is more functional in principle because it measures the very source of all lies, namely the human brain. However, our limited understanding of how the brain forms lies prevents it from being a full-fledged lie detector.

Even so, the use of fMRI has been shown to be an effective way at detecting lies. It’s still not perfect. In an episode of Mythbusters, one of the hosts was able to beat an fMRI. If it can be done on a TV show, then what hope does it have in a court of law with people who lie for a living?

Despite this flaw, research has shown that an fMRI was able to detect lies with 24 percent more accuracy than a polygraph. Overall, it’s accuracy is about 78 percent. That’s pretty good. If it were a winning percentage in baseball, it would be a playoff team. However, when you’re dealing with law and relationships, 78 percent just isn’t enough.

At the very least, the technology is improving. As the science of brain imaging continues to improve, it will eventually be possible to detect lies within someone’s brain with a degree of accuracy that would make every court drama much more boring.

There may even come a day where detecting lies is as easy as talking into a smartphone. Remember that smart blood I mentioned a while back? Well if someone had that in their system, then their brains could be scanned in real time. That means people could know whether they’re lying in an instant. That would basically destroy the entire pick-up artist community.

Now that kind of lie detection is a long way off. However, and I know I say this a lot, there may come a day within our life time when this technology is functional. Given the ongoing development into fMRIs, it may only be a matter of time before someone creates a system that can detect lies with 99 percent accuracy.

What will this mean for criminal justice? What will this mean for divorce proceedings? What will this mean for relationships in general when people know there’s a way for their lies to be exposed? It’s a strange and ominous idea to imagine, but the cold hard truth is that we may have to deal with sooner than we think.

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