The Miracle of Scientology's E-Meter There have been a few articles debunking Scientology's E-Meter, but most of them I've seen tend to dive off the scientific/electronic deep end very quickly without explaining how this device works in plain language. So, I'm going to take a stab at it. When you're on an E-Meter, you're essentially holding one end of a wire in your left hand, and the other end of a wire in your right hand. The E-Meter puts out a very, very small amount of electricity that passes from one hand to the other. The amount of electricity that makes it through your body is displayed on a gauge. The amount of electricity that makes it through your body is largely determined by how much contact you have with the "cans" (the two things that look, well, like cans that you hold). It is incredibly easy to alter how much electricity passes through you. Squeeze the cans tightly, and the needle will show a giant response. Hold the cans loosely, and you'll get a similar though opposite result. The box itself is measuring nothing more than that conductivity. There is one other, very small factor, that effects conductivity. That is the salinity of your skin. Your sweat has salt in it, and salt water is more conductive than just plain skin. Put another way, sweaty palms register more strongly than dry ones on an E-Meter. Some people, when they lie, do tend to sweat more. That's why skin conductance is one of the parameters that are measured when someone undergoes a polygraph test. That said, polygraph tests measure many other factors... including heart rate, respiration, tidal volume, along with skin conductance... ...and STILL are inadmissible in court because nobody has been able to conclusively show that these measures are reliable for proving anything. All a freakin' E-Meter does is measure how much electricity makes it from one hand, across a body, to the other. Squeezing the cans will easily throw off the measurement so much that it's impossible to discern whether movements in the needle were caused intentionally or due to changes in the amount of sweat someone secrets. Even small changes in how tightly the "cans" are held will cause massive jumps. This sort of junk science has been out there for decades. The same devices have been sold for years (at $20 a pop) to people who like to solder shit together. '70s vintage Radio Shack kit: Recent vintage Lego kit: These cute little kits measure EXACTLY the same thing the $4000+ E-Meter does... and are just as unreliable for measuring anything significant.