Former CIA Chief of Disguise shares how spies use disguises

Jonna Mendez is a real master of disguise. In this fascinating Wired video, the now-retired CIA Chief of Disguise talks about how and why spies are masked so their cover isn't blown.

"You want to be the person who gets on the elevator... and nobody even remembers that you were really there. That is a design goal at disguise labs at CIA."

Fascinating stuff! Read the rest

Analyzing mouse-movement to see if you're lying

Here's an interesting experiment: Using mouse-movement as a lie-detection technique.

Cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists have long noted a big "tell" in human behavior: Crafting a lie takes more mental work than telling the truth. So one way to spot lies is to check someone's reaction time.

If they're telling a lie, they'll respond fractionally more slowly than if they're telling the truth. Similarly, if you're asked to elaborate on your lie, you have to think for a second to generate new, additional lies. "You're from Texas, eh? What city? What neighborhood in that city?" You can craft those lies on the fly, but it takes a bit more mental effort, resulting in micro hesitations.

So a group of Italian researchers wondered -- hey, could you use mouse movement as a proxy for reaction time?

In an experiment, they took two groups of subjects and asked them to respond to questions about their identity using an online form. One group was instructed to tell the truth; the other was to lie. The liars were given a package of information about their identity, so they could rehearse their fake persona.

But! The test also included some tricky questions which the liars hadn't rehearsed, but which were logically consistent with their fake persona. For example, if they were told you were born in January 1970, they'd be asked something like are you 48 years old now? In essence, the scientists wanted to see whether they could detect -- in the mouse movements -- the hesitation of someone concocting a lie. Read the rest

Truth in Advertising files FTC complaint against lingerie retailer Adore Me for deceptive marketing practices

In the video above, you will see just how deceptive Adore Me is. If you don't pay very close attention to the fine print, you will get suckered into a $40/month automatic payment. You can only cancel under certain conditions, and if you do manage to cancel, Adore Me keeps your money.

Shana Mueller of Truth in Advertising says:

After investigating Adore Me’s marketing practices, ad watchdog group, truthinadvertising.org has filed a complaint with the FTC (as well as the NY AG’s Office and Santa Clara, CA DA’s office) on the company’s deceptive marketing practices.

You can see the full legal action page (w/evidence as well as correspondence with the company).

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Woman convicted for pretending to be male during courting and sex with blindfolded girlfriend

Gayle Newland, 25, of Cheshire, England was convicted of sexual assault for pretending to be a male and wearing a strap-on during multiple sexual encounters with a female friend who she reportedly convinced to wear a blindfold the entire time they were together. Their relationship, and the deception, began online. From The Independent:

Her 25-year-old victim told Chester Crown Court that she had kept the blindfold on during about 10 sexual encounters. She remained blindfolded when the pair were sunbathing together and even when they “watched” a film at her flat. The deception, she said, only ended when she pulled off the blindfold while they were having sex to see her friend Gayle wearing a strap-on prosthetic penis....

In her defence, Newland insisted that no blindfold was used during their relationship. She also denied strapping bandages to her chest to mask her breasts, claiming they were only there to protect a heart monitor.

Denying five counts of sexual assault, Newland, from Willaston, Cheshire, insisted her accuser always knew she was pretending to be a man, and that they had been engaging in roleplay while her friend struggled to come to terms with her lesbianism.

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The science of magic

The old cups-and-balls "shell game" trick so effectively exploits the human brain's ability to be deceived that, even when the cups are see-through, you can still get played. Read the rest