Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Destructive truth tests and true lies

Long before lie detector tests were invented in the Western world, Africa had a similar but deadlier test. Let's call it a destructive truth test (DTT). Destructive, because if the test subject tested negative for truth, the test subject would be destroyed. No recourse, no appeal. The result of lying during a DTT was instant death.

For an example of how this ancient science, DTT worked, read the story of the three brothers and the pot of porridge.

I wonder why the characters in the various stories did not 'fess up at the last minute, opting for shame rather than death. Perhaps they doubted the authenticity of the tests. It turns out that Ijapa the tortoise and his wife,Yanrinbo were skilled at fooling the test. In the book, True Lies by George Shannon and John O'Brien, Ijapa and Yanribo were accused of stealing their neighbor's yams. They were summoned by the Chief who administered a herbal drink DTT. "My hands have not picked a single yam", Ijapa said, swearing to die if he was lying. Yanribo also swore that she had never set her foot near her neighbor's storehouse. Neither one fell down and died and they were therefore exonorated from the crime. The truth was that Ijapa carried Yanribo on his back to the store house and Yanribo's hands picked the yams. They had told true lies.

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