Their machine will tell if you’re friend or foe, they say

Veritas Scientific Corporation is — well, it must be — the rare company with technology that surpasses the limitations of what scientists understand.

Veritas is all about deception. In the promotional video here, Veritas Scientific’s founder and CEO Eric Fenn Elbot says that he “started reading incredible research about how to detect brain waves to detect deception, and how to use brain waves to go beyond that, to even, perhaps, be able to identify friend from foe.” Therefore, he went into business.

You might think that a company called Veritas Scientific has some connection to Harvard University (Harvard’s motto is veritas, the Latin word for truth). You would be right. It does have some connection to Harvard University. CEO Elbot’s official biography says he has a Master of Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. That’s not all. Elbot was also a mid-level administrator at the Kennedy School.

At the Kennedy School of Government, few if any students learn anything about advanced neuroscience. But almost all the students do learn, one way or another, about the importance of a good handshake. Veritas Scientific Corporation’s newest product is called “Handshake.”

The company’s chief operating officer, Steve C. Pak, explains, in this video, what a traditional handshake is:

The company web site explains their Handshake product in words that you might find as gripping as a politician’s handshake:

Veritas Scientific uses two technologies, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and electroencephalography (EEG), to decode three adapted tests: the Guilty Knowledge Test (GKT), the Implicit Association Test (IAT), and Hemodynamic Interrogation (HDI). Veritas Scientific’s HandShake captures brain signals in response to stimuli through multiple Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) and Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) readings, bookended by a Friend Making Interview (FMI) and a Foe Problem Interrogation (FPI).

In a second, equally spellbinding video, COO Pak waxes specific about his Handshake:

This is new technology, of a kind that few, if any other firms offer. Is it important? Veritas Scientific Corporation’s web site says, with characteristic modesty:

Had the Boston Marathon bomber been screened by Veritas Scientific’s HandShake, this neurotechnology would have identified him as a potential threat.

Veritas Scientific Corporation’ main target market is national security agencies, which struggle to identify the real-life counterparts of this famous fictional evil-doer:

But the company’s web site does not mention what seems an obvious, other use for its products. If those products are truly, reliably good, you can expect every savvy venture capitalist to buy and use them.

Potential investors in any company would, I expect, luuuuuuuuuuuv to have a machine that answers the simple question: Are the company’s officers being deceptive?

Marc Abrahams is the editor of the Annals of Improbable Research magazine and organizer of the Ig Nobel Prizes.
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