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"The world is really so surreal these days that it's necessary for us to blunt it somehow in order to stay sane. The artist functions to short-circuit the buffering mechanism, so that people can occasionally perceive the weirdness of things as they are."
- William Gibson

Cephaloscope  
  A device used to detect lying.  

I don't know if Vance was aware of it, but the Cephaloscope was an actual device invented in 1842 for use by physicians who worked with hearing problems. "Cephalo" refers to the head.

Farr knew there was a cephaloscope focused on his brain. Any pulse of excitement, any flush of fear would be recorded on a chart. He brought the image of a hot bath to the brink of his mind.

“Do you plan to steal houses, Farr Sainh?”

Now: the placid cool porcelain, the feel of warm air and water, the scent of soap.

“No...”

After the samples were collected, Kirdy stepped into the saloon and made a statement. “I will question you separately. Those who so desire will be allowed to give their evidence with the cephaloscope as an adjunct, and these responses will naturally take on more weight. I remind you that cephaloscope evidence can not be introduced in court to prove guilt—only to prove innocence. The cephaloscope at worst can only fail to eliminate you from the suspects. I remind you further that refusal to use the cephaloscope is not only a privilege and a right, but considered by many a moral duty. Hence those who prefer to give evidence without cephaloscope verification incur no prejudice. Use of the instrument is optional with you.”

Technovelgy from The Houses of Iszm, by Jack Vance.
Published by Better Publications in 1954
Additional resources -

The modern lie detector was invented by Dr. William M. Marston in the 1917. The machine was also called a polygraph - literally "many writings", referring to the method of recording several physiological responses at the same time. He also wrote under the pen name Charles Moulton - creating the Wonder Woman comic strip. Wonder Woman, as you may recall, had a magic lasso that caused anyone she caught with it to tell the absolute truth.

Compare to the psychoprobe from Satellite Five (1938) by Arthur K. Barnes, the mechanical judge from The Lord of Tranerica (1939) by Stanton A. Coblentz, the quizzer from Agent of Vega (1949) by James Schmitz, the psychic probe from Foundation and Empire (1952) by Isaac Asimov, the truth meter from The Star Beast (1954) by Robert Heinlein, the veridicator from Little Fuzzy (1962) by H. Beam Piper.

Also, see the cephalochromoscope from A Scanner Darkly (1977) by Philip K. Dick.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Houses of Iszm
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Vance
  Tech news articles related to The Houses of Iszm
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Vance

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