Online ‘Believability Meter’ fingers liars at U.S. presidential debates

Leave it to the Web to find a way to separate fact from fiction at the presidential debates.

A startup called RealScoop says it’s developed an online voice analysis system that can tell the difference between a truth and a lie — and it has some news about the candidates’ on-camera clashes.

First, how it works: RealScoop says it uses the “world’s leading voice analysis technology” to break down more than a hundred vocal elements at 1,000 calculations per second. Its founders say their system is based on the same technology used by intelligence gathering agencies and criminal investigators.

Think it works?

A former Toronto police officer and veteran polygraph technician, however, is skeptic about RealScoop’s Believability Meter.

“From what I can tell, it looks like they’re using a computerized voice stress analyzer (VSA) which is often used as a marketing gimmick,” said Frank Wozniak of the Toronto Polygraph Services Inc(TPSI).

Wozniak, who was Toronto Police Department polygraph operator for 17 years prior to his current assignment with TPSI, says VSA devices rely primarily on measuring vocal stress levels. By contrast typical polygraph machines measure several factors such as: blood pressure levels, heart rate, respiratory patterns, blodd volume and sweat gland activity.

“VSA’s have been around for years. If they were effective, polygraphs manufacturers would have incorporated them into their machines a long time ago,” he said.

Here are some of the statements RealScoop says might be iffy, from Wednesday’s debate and ones past. Weigh the facts and decide for yourself.

The Democrats

October 15: Barack Obama, RealScoop says, was not believable when he claimed his campaign had no involvement with ACORN.

October 2: Joe Biden, RealScoop says, was not believable when he talked about his campaign’s plan for a troop withdrawal from Iraq.

September 26: Barack Obama, RealScoop says, was not believable when he talked about the idea of negotiations with Iran, nor when he referenced Henry Kissinger.

The Republicans

October 15: John McCain, RealScoop says, was not believable when he stated how hurt he was by John Lewis’s statements, nor when he stated that ACORN threatens to “destroy the fabric of democracy.”

October 7: John McCain, RealScoop says, was not believable when he said Obama had encouraged Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make bad loans.

October 2: Sarah Palin, RealScoop says, was not believable when she said Obama does not favor funding the troops.

So is this the real deal? It may not be

November 4, but you can cast your vote on this one right now. Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

(With files from Nestor E. Arellano,

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