<strong>A recent issue of The Economist reported on these efforts, noting how several researchers are trying to decode the brain&#39;s neurology. There have been early successes involving subjects being able to give commands to computers merely through their thoughts.</strong>

Did I ever tell you about the time I walked on the moon? Or the winning touchdown I scored in the Super Bowl?

You don't need a machine or software to tell you I'm lying. With politics, it isn't as easy.

Let me begin by assuring you there is nothing new under the political campaign sun.

Seventy-five years ago, Republicans were accusing a sitting Democratic president of being a socialist. This didn't sit well with the Socialist-Labor Party candidate, who maintained that President Roosevelt was in fact making a futile attempt at saving capitalism, which was a flawed system.

Fifty years ago, Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson accused Republican Dwight Eisenhower of a campaign of "lies or half truths" against him, something with which President Truman heartily agreed, accusing the GOP of using "the big lie."

That led the prim and proper head of the Women's Division of the Republican National Committee to say of Truman, "He ought to recognize it. He's used it often enough."

And last week the Obama administration reacted strongly to Republican Mitt Romney's first campaign ad, calling it "a deceitful and dishonest attack."

At the same time, unrelated to any of this, Republicans and Democrats energetically accused each other for the failure of a "supercommittee" that was supposed to draft a national deficit reduction plan.

Without labels, generalizations and accusations of lying, politics would have all the fervor of a piano recital.

And yet, if someone invented a way to genuinely expose the lies in politics, would you want that?

Last week the Nieman Journalism Lab published a story about a graduate student at MIT who is building software that will alert readers when something is probably a lie.

The sentence will be highlighted. Click on it and you will be sent to a place that gives you the verifiable truth about the matter.

The student, Dan Schultz, is quoted as saying he hopes to prod Americans into reading more critically, not simply picking up what a favorite politician says and incorporating it into their worldview.

Lots of luck with that. As my inbox will attest, it's much more fun to forward lies.

Schultz isn't alone in the quest for truth. Scientists are hard at work developing ways to accurately know when someone is lying and, what's more, to even tell what people are thinking.

A recent issue of The Economist reported on these efforts, noting how several researchers are trying to decode the brain's neurology. There have been early successes involving subjects being able to give commands to computers merely through their thoughts.

It's a promising start, full of hope and promise, especially for victims of accidents or diseases who may not be able to do much more than think. But I hardly need to note the host of dangers.

"Lying," The Economist said, "is at the heart of civilization." Does the world really want a machine that tells a spouse her husband really thinks she looks fat when he has said otherwise? Do kids want to know a parent really doesn't think a mistake they made is OK, even though they've said so? As WikiLeaks already has shown, diplomats would rather not have their counterparts in other countries know what they really think about them. World peace is more important than the truth.

But do we want to know if politicians are lying?

Two good web sites, factcheck.org and snopes.com, offer reliable appraisals of this already, but it seems as if few voters ever bother to look.

Maybe that's because we've been conditioned through eons of campaigning. We don't need software. We can tell when politicians are lying. It's when they open their mouths.

But maybe we don't really care so much, as long as it furthers the side of the debate we believe is best.

Lie detectors can't tell you the precise definition of a socialist, or where a certain political philosophy will lead the nation in a generation or two. Many people will choose a scoundrel who is sympathetic with their worldview over an honest person with the wrong philosophy.

For the most part, a political lie detector would be useless.

Jay Evensen is associate editor of the Deseret News editorial page. Email him at even@desnews.com. For more content, visit his web site, www.jayevensen.com.