The neuroscience of interrogation (Why torture doesn’t work) – New Scientist

As O’Mara emphasises, torture does not produce reliable information largely because of the severity with which it impairs the ability to think. Extreme pain, cold, sleep deprivation and fear of torture itself all damage memory, mood and cognition. Torture does not persuade people to make a reasoned decision to cooperate, but produces panic, dissociation, unconsciousness and long-term neurological damage. It also produces an intense desire to keep talking to prevent further torture.

…Interrogators often escalate torture when they think a suspect is withholding information or lying, but there is no good evidence that interrogators are better than the rest of us at detecting lies. In fact, there is evidence that when people are trained as interrogators, they become more likely to think others are lying to them. This belief can lead to alarming errors, whereby people are tortured because their torturer wrongly believes they are lying. New technologies to detect lies do not work either, says O’Mara.

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