Lie Detector Meets Data Viz: This Typographic Web App Will Deconstruct Tonight's Debate Live
“Obama was listless up there,” “Ryan’s grasp of the facts is tenuous,” and “Biden was clearly unhinged." Just some of the quotes from talking-head political pundits in reference to the recently televised Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates. A lot of the ‘analysis’ coming out of the 24-hour news cycle is often little more than self-reinforcing hyperbole and subjective name-calling. But what if there was a way to cut through the candidates’ and news agencies’ partisan smoke screens and see what was really going on inside the minds of our would-be leaders? Was Obama really daydreaming during the first debate? Does Romney actually believe anything that comes out of his own mouth?
This works because as much as we might try to mask our inner intentions and emotions, the language centers in our brain broadcast our inner secrets in subtle ways. Like a poker player’s ‘tell,’ the character and frequency of the words we use reveal a lot about our inner psychological states. Liars tend to avoid talking about themselves in the first person. Depressed and suicidal people speak a lot more about their bodies and health than happy people.
By assembling a team of the world’s fanciest psychologists, linguists, programmers, and bartenders, we have put together behavioral models that allow our system to detect lies, narcissism, depression, and senility 10 times better than any jackass in a suit can on CNN. Tune in to ReConstitution2012.com during the last two debates (Tuesday, October 16, 9:00 p.m. EST and Monday, October 22, 9:00 p.m. EST) to see our system in action live, or anytime afterwards for a recap.
Reconstitution 2012 is a web app that is best viewed in Chrome or Safari. The app receives the text of the debate—word by word—from the backend server, and constructs an animated layout of the transcript in your browser window. The server uses several language processing libraries to analyze and tag the close captioned text, which is sent to it by an application connected to a live cable feed, running in the Sosolimited studio.