Tech Tools Gauge Politicians' Spin

Technology analyzes speech, voice and facial expressions to help researchers read politicians' lips
By Rebecca Smith Hurd,  Newser User
Posted Sep 18, 2008 4:11 PM CDT
Barack Obama, John McCain and Cindy McCain greet workers and family during the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008.    (AP Photo/Peter Foley, Pool)
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(Newser) – Want to know if John McCain and Barack Obama are stretching the truth? Speech, voice, and facial recognition technology is helping researchers determine just that, New Scientist reports. Analyzing words from 150 speeches from the presidential election, one researcher found that Obama used much higher “levels of spin” than McCain. “Obama is very good at using stirring rhetoric to deal with the issues. And it seems to work if you look at what happens in the polls afterwards,” he noted.

McCain’s “straight talk” may hurt him. McCain's voice and facial expressions often do not square up, said a psychologist, adding that his profile resembles that of a clinically depressed person. “That might lead to what I would call a lack of credibility.” What’s more: Computers may soon be able read people better than psychologists, says an MIT expert whose new technology uses eye, nose, and mouth movements to tell whether someone is lying. “I imagine that will be a pretty scary day for politicians.”