Media 'lies' face ultimate test of truth

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Known affectionately as the television programme whose studio demonstrations seem doomed to fail, Tomorrow's World will today attempt one of the most ambitious mass scientific experiments in history - the truth test.

The excercise may sound like science meets Noel's House Party, but its organisers claim to have a genuine goal. They aim to establish through which of three media - television, radio or print - it is easiest to lie and get away with it.

The programme's producer, Anne Laking, said psychologists suggest it is easier to lie on television. Her show will put this to the test in 'a genuine live experiment with the nation'. The programme will feature a live link with a family, representative of all the families taking part. They plan to show two interviews in which a psychologist will question Sir Robin Day. In one session he will lie, in the other tell the truth. Viewers will be invited to ring in and say which they believe is which.

This is also something of a broadcasting experiment, with two other live, interactive experiments during the half- hour programme. Ms Laking claims the BBC can cope with 26,000 calls a minute and has allotted between five and seven minutes during which the team will deal with incoming calls, enter the results into a computer and present them.

The outcome will be revealed at the end of the programme. 'We plan to get all the results in during the show. It's a tall order . . . but I think we can do it. We could always come back to the subject in the next programme, but that would be a bit of a disaster.'

Tommorrow's World has an average audience of 4.5 million, occasionally rising to 7 million. 'The audience will not be statistically representative because they will be self- selected,' Ms Laking conceded. 'But the more people that do it the better.'

This morning Radio 1 will broadcast Sir Robin's interviews and the Daily Telegraph will print the text. Listeners and readers will ring one of two telephone hotlines to record which interview they think contains the lies.

The truth test was the winning entry of 'Megalab UK' - a competition to find an experiment that could be tested on all three media as part of National Week of Science, Engineering and Technology.