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In Star Trek:TNG season 2 episode, Up the Long Ladder (the one where they have to evacuate the colony of clones and the colony of Irish farmers), Geordi reveals that, using his visor, he can tell when humans are lying to him. This seems like a very useful talent. Did they ever mention this again? Or are there specific instances where Geordi should have been able to detect a lie, and didn't?

  • It's from season 2... Can't remember exact episode, but I think its in relation to a poker game. – erdiede Oct 10 '11 at 5:13
  • I found it. I'll edit the question. – Sam Oct 10 '11 at 6:44
  • He could also see androids based on a glow around them. I wonder if that was ever used. – Wikis Oct 10 '11 at 11:32
  • @erdiede: He mentioned that he could see through some kinds of playing cards in "Ethics". – Matt Peterson Oct 10 '11 at 15:18
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Most of these early super powers were not addressed later in the show. If you think about it, having one character that can read emotions and another that can detect lies and just about anything else really make writing stories hard. Every alien race that you meet ends up being completely transparent and obvious to your team, so in order to deceive they would all need to have some cheap plot device to be able to avoid being detected.

Not only that, but you'd have to think up a new way to best them each week. What will we use this time? A lie-enhancer ray? A field of lying? A charm spell?

Combine all the silly things they used to prevent Troi from reading emotions, and now increase that to include nearly everything a body can do.

In universe, we can assume that his power was exaggerated and isn't as amazing as he let on.

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    He might well be able to detect lies in humans and maybe familiar aliens like Telar or Andorians but in a new species he'd have to learn their cues before he could use IR frequencies and the like as "tells". – World Engineer Oct 11 '11 at 0:53
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    I don't think it's a super power. We have polygraphs, and it's well known that there are lots of signs to tell if someone is lying, including elevated blood pressure, which could be seen by Geordi using his Visor. – dkuntz2 Oct 12 '11 at 1:33
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    @DKuntz2: I mean super-power from a literary stand-point. No one has this ability, so the writers could imbue it with any property. The fact that there are rational ways to produce such a device is inconsequential, the writers decided what it can and can't do. They decided what the super powers were. In this sense, his magic eyes are no different than Troi's magic brain. Or Q's magic... magic. – DampeS8N Oct 12 '11 at 12:52
  • @DampeS8N I understand where you're coming from using the term magic, but I have to point out that the 'magic' is generally explained quite well using science (sorry, it's just me). – dkuntz2 Oct 12 '11 at 15:38
  • I suppose it's similar to any of the fancy equipment on the ship. They would have to keep coming up with new ways of saying, we can't use the sensors...again. Or the transporters...again. – Sam Oct 16 '11 at 6:23
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While not mentioned again, Geordi is, throughout the series, apparently able to tell when Wesley isn't being honest, pushing for more information gently.

It's no super power, anyway; given that his visor lets him see in a wider spectrum, including IR, he would be able to notice changes in blood flow readily. Further, if focused upon a person, he's able to see much smaller details, so he'd be able to focus on pupil dilation. Given those two, there's about 1/4 of a full polygraph test.

It should be noted, tho', that he's not going to be all that much more accurate than a polygraph, either... and polygraphy is only about 50% accurate.

  • In addition, just like with polygraphs, half of the effect may be from him simply declaring that he can detect lies and to show some small ability. After that, people are more likely to get nervous and trip themselves up or to simply choose not to lie. – FuzzyBoots Feb 16 '16 at 17:58
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There's at least one other instance where Geordi successfully detects a lie by looking at someone with his VISOR, in TNG: The Enemy.

[Bochra's head weaves momentarily as though he's dizzy.]

GEORDI: What's the matter?

BOCHRA: Nothing.

GEORDI: Wrong. Your heart rate just shot way up.

[Bochra can't help his curiosity, looks at Geordi -- How can you tell? Geordi taps his VISOR in response.]

GEORDI: It translates a wide range of radiation into neural impulses. Allows me to see.

By comparison he fails to see multiple people lying to him in TNG: Starship Mine although perhaps he's more interested in the weird about-to-explode table to fully notice.

ORTON: (smiles) I'm sure we can handle this, whatever it is, Commander. There's no need to concern yourself.

GEORDI: I really think I should look at that heating element. If it overloads under --

  • so he can just detect bad liars. He also didn't detect Data's mother – NKCampbell May 25 '18 at 19:04
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    @NKCampbell -True, but she'd been designed to accurately mimic a human – Valorum May 25 '18 at 19:35

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