Having your secrets broadcasted would be a nightmare to many. To the contestants of FOX’s “The Moment of Truth,” it’s a chance to win $500,000.
“The Moment of Truth” doesn’t require any knowledge except your own private thoughts. The contestants are given a lie-detector test (before the taping) with 50 personal questions like, “Have you ever thought your boyfriend might be gay?” or “Do fat people repulse you?” Already, it sounds like a winner. After their off-screen polygraph, the contestant is brought to the set and forced to re-answer some of the questions in front of three people of their choosing. The only way to win the game is to tell the truth – not caring about your spouses, bosses or friends couldn’t hurt, either. Winning sounds easy enough, just bring in someone who doesn’t give a shit (angsty teenagers, perhaps?) and rob Rupert Murdoch blind. But there might be some unexpected obstacles in that path.
One obvious problem is that contestants have no idea who will tune in to see their very public confessional. You wouldn’t want your mother to learn you’ve been paid for sex, would you? The humiliation of having your innermost thoughts being spread across the country is a bit daunting. At times, the host seems to exacerbate this by asking questions made to burn bridges. It’s vaguely like “The Newlywed Game” – not so much about the money as the fighting between the couples. However, if feeling shameful is a huge thing for contestants, why go on the show? The “Truth” contestant is a certain kind of apathetic American. If you blush easily, it’s best to stay away.
The show contains a few ambiguities that limit its credibility. For example, polygraph tests have questionable validity. They aren’t admitted in the courts of 31 states, and in 1997, 421 psychologists had approximated polygraph test accuracy to be roughly 61% – though new computerized polygraphs are close to 100% accurate. A few techniques such as being rested and relaxed will help them fool the polygraph. Conversely, because the contestants are likely to be nervous, the test will pick up any quickened heartbeats and report anything as a lie, regardless of whether the answer was truthful.
The questions posed to the contestants are also up for debate, as some tend to cover a lot of gray area. It could be difficult to correctly answer the question, “Did you ever receive special treatment in college while on the football team?,” because it’s possible he wasn’t aware of any special treatment.
Even though overcoming the judgment of others to win money is the purpose of the game, secrets are a part of everyone’s life. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear that most Americans have done some of the scandalous acts the contestants are chastised for – most of them at the point in their life that you’re at right now.
While watching “Truth,” viewers should remember the old proverb, “Those who live in dirty houses should not throw cleaning solution,” and enjoy the not-so-classy “Moment of Truth” and all of the red-faced confessions that go along with it.