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polygraph-quackery

The lie detector is itself based on lies

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Educate yourself. Before playing Russian roulette with your reputation, learn how to protect yourself against this invalid test. Download our free book (4 mb PDF):

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The Lie Behind the Lie Detector

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The dirty little secret behind the polygraph is that the "test" depends on trickery, not science. The person being "tested" is not supposed to know that while the polygraph operator declares that all questions must be answered truthfully, warning that the slightest hint of deception will be detected, he secretly assumes that denials in response to certain questions -- called "control" questions -- will be less than truthful. An example of a commonly used control question is, "Did you ever lie to get out of trouble?" The polygrapher steers the examinee into a denial by warning, for example, that anyone who would do so is the same kind of person who would commit the kind of behavior that is under investigation and then lie about it. But secretly, it is assumed that everyone has lied to get out of trouble.

The polygraph tracings don't do a special dance when a person lies. The polygrapher scores the test by comparing physiological responses (breathing, blood pressure, heart, and perspiration rates) to these probable-lie control questions with reactions to relevant questions such as, "Did you ever commit an act of espionage against the United States?" (commonly asked in security screening). If the former reactions are greater, the examinee passes; if the latter are greater, he fails. If responses to both "control" and relevant questions are about the same, the result is deemed inconclusive.

The test also includes irrelevant questions such as, "Are the lights on in this room?" The polygrapher falsely explains that such questions provide a "baseline for truth," because the true answer is obvious. But in reality, they are not scored at all! They merely serve as buffers between pairs of relevant and "control" questions.

The simplistic methodology used in polygraph testing has no grounding in the scientific method: it is no more scientific than astrology or tarot cards. Government agencies value it because people who don't realize it's a fraud sometimes make damaging admissions. But as a result of reliance on this voodoo science, the truthful are often falsely branded as liars while the deceptive pass through.

Perversely, the "test" is inherently biased against the truthful, because the more honestly one answers the "control" questions, and as a consequence feels less stress when answering them, the more likely one is to fail. Conversely, liars can beat the test by covertly augmenting their physiological reactions to the "control" questions. This can be done, for example, by doing mental arithmetic, thinking exciting thoughts, altering one's breathing pattern, or simply biting the side of the tongue. Truthful persons can also use these techniques to protect themselves against the risk of a false positive outcome. Although polygraph operators frequently claim they can detect such countermeasures, no polygrapher has ever demonstrated any ability to do so, and peer-reviewed research suggests that they can't.

Latest News:

Oklahoma Probationer Benjamin Lawrence Petty Sentenced to 15 Years' Imprisonment for Failing Polygraph and Denying Guilt
On Friday, 23 October 2020, Oklahoma district judge Dennis Morris revoked Benjamin Lawrence Petty’s probation and sentenced him to 15 years in prison because he allegedly failed two polygraph "tests" and denied having committed the crime for which he was on probation.

Dr. Phil Replaces Jack Trimarco with Polygraph Operator John Grogan, Whom Trimarco Called "a Fraud"
The tabloid television talk show Dr. Phil, which debuted in 2002, has long used polygraphs as a ratings gimmick, especially during Nielsen sweeps, a rating period that is especially important for advertising revenue.

Polygraph Screening Sidelined Dozens of Afghan Interior Ministry Officers
In 2018, some 40 officers of the Afghan Ministry of the Interior saw their careers sidetracked after they were compelled to undergo polygraph screening at the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

Polygraph Statement of Sherzai Sulimany
An officer in the Afghan Interior Ministry shares his polygraph experience.

AntiPolygraph.org Marks 20 Years Online
Friday, 18 September 2020 marks AntiPolygraph.org's 20th anniversary online….

Accused Russian Spy Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins Evidently Beat the Polygraph to Penetrate INSCOM and the DIA
On Thursday, 20 August 2020, a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia indicted former U.S. Army Special Forces officer Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins of Gainesville, Virginia on a single count of "Conspiracy to Gather or Deliver Defense Information to Aid a Foreign Government."

Accused Spy Alexander Yuk Ching Ma Evidently Beat the Polygraph to Penetrate the FBI
On Thursday, 13 August 2020, FBI Special Agent Chris Jensen filed under seal a criminal complaint against Alexander Yuk Ching Ma of Honolulu, Hawaii, charging him with "Conspiracy to Gather and Communicate National Defense Information of the United States to a Foreign Nation."

Ignatz Theodor Griebl: The Nazi Spy Who Escaped Thanks to the Polygraph
AntiPolygraph.org has obtained archival news photographs of a Nazi spy who escaped to Germany in 1938 thanks to the FBI's misplaced reliance on polygraph chart readings.

NITV Falsely Claims Peer-Reviewed Study Shows CVSA Is Highly Accurate
The so-named National Institute for Truth Verification (NITV), which markets a putative lie detector called the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA), and its associated group, the National Association of Computer Voice Stress Analysts (NACVSA), have in recent years claimed that a 2012 independent peer-reviewed study shows that CVSA has an accuracy rate on the order of 97% or higher.

Polygraph "Tests" and How to Beat Them
AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke's talk, "Polygraph 'Tests' and How to Beat Them," presented on 31 July 2020 at the Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) 2020 conference, may now be viewed online.

San Jose P.D. Polygraph Operator Robert E. Foster Charged with Multiple Felonies
The Santa Clara County, California District Attorney’s Office has charged Robert E. Foster, a polygraph operator with the San Jose Police Department, with "with using his private security company to commit insurance fraud, tax evasion, wage theft, and about $18 million in money laundering."

Would-be Spy Elizabeth Jo Shirley: Yet Another Apparent Failure of Polygraph Screening
On Monday, 6 July 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Elizabeth Jo Shirley of Hedgesville, West Virginia, had pleaded guilty to unlawfully retaining classified information.

Charlatan v. Charlatan: NITV Sues E. Gary Baker
On Wednesday, 17 June 2020, "Dr." Charles Humble's NITV Federal Services, LLC, which markets the scientifically baseless Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA) to governmental agencies, filed in a Florida court an amended complaint in litigation against competitor Elwood Gary Baker, who runs Baker Group International, and his associate Michael Savage, who runs Expertos VSA, Inc.

TV Polygraph Operator Daniel Ribacoff Denies Falsely Branding Steve Wilkos Show Guest as a Liar, But Deletes Posts When Challenged
Polygraph operator Daniel Ribacoff, who performs for the NBCUniversal Television Distribution syndicated daytime television talk program, The Steve Wilkos Show, has publicly denied having wrongly accused show guest Anca Pennington of lying.

Book Review: False Confessions: The True Story of Doug Williams and His Crusade Against the Polygraph Industry
Author Jack Straw, a former Chicago police captain who was Doug Williams' fellow inmate in Florence, Colorado, retells Williams' life story in a book that will be of interest to all students of polygraphy.

LAPD Polygraph Policy Documents Disclosed
AntiPolygraph.org has obtained and published two previously unavailable Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) polygraph unit policy documents.

Criminal Confessions - Treason!
A message board poster claims to have lied and passed a pre-employment polygraph and to have sold classified information after his security clearance was revoked for drunk driving.

Wisconsin Court of Appeals Throws Out Post-Polygraph Confession on Grounds of Coercion
In a 19 May 2020 ruling, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals upheld the suppression of a post-polygraph confession in the child molestation case of Wisconsin v. Adam W. Vice (2018AP2220-CR).

CVSA Marketer NITV Sued for Fraud
Bianca Fletcher, a former Arkansas Department of Corrections employee who alleges that she "was fired, purportedly for being deceptive" on a Computer Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA) "test," has filed a federal lawsuit against NITV, LLC, NITV Federal Services, LLC, their founder, Charles Humble, NITV employee Gene Shook, and two "John Does."

NCCA Interview & Interrogation Manual
AntiPolygraph.org has obtained and published the November 2013 edition of the National Center for Credibility Assessment manual, Interview & Interrogation. In addition, we have published a 9-page Counterintelligence Post-Test Interview Supplement.

Neither Tara Reade Nor Joe Biden Should Take a Polygraph "Test"
In an interview with Tara Reade, who has accused Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, Megyn Kelly asked Reade if she would be willing to take a polygraph "test."

"Green River Killer" Gary Leon Ridgway's Polygraph Charts
On Monday, 7 May 1984, polygraph operator Norman R. "Norm" Matzke of the King County, Washington Sheriff's Office conducted a polygraph "test" of Gary Leon Ridgway regarding the deaths of prostitutes whose bodies had been dumped in or near the Green River beginning in 1982.

NITV Federal Services Court Filing Shows Flat Revenue, Declining CVSA Sales
Financial data disclosed in federal court by NITV Federal Services, LLC, which markets the scientifically baseless Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA) to law enforcement agencies, reflect flat revenue and a multi-year sales slump.

Updated Law Enforcement Polygraph Handbook
AntiPolygraph.org has obtained a more recent copy of the Polygraph Law Enforcement Accreditation (PLEA) Guide for Standards and Practices.

Defense Intelligence Agency Polygraph Policy Disclosed
AntiPolygraph.org has obtained an unredacted copy of the regulation governing the Defense Intelligence Agency's (DIA's) polygraph program. The document, marked "For Official Use Only" and titled "Credibility Assessment Program" is DIA Instruction 5200.002 dated 3 July 2014.

Accused WikiLeaks CIA Vault 7 Source Joshua Adam Schulte Knew the Lie Behind the Lie Detector
An exhibit submitted by prosecutors in the Espionage Act trial of Joshua Adam Schulte for allegedly providing a collection of CIA hacking tools dubbed "Vault 7" to WikiLeaks shows that Schulte understood that polygraph "testing" is bogus.

Polygraph "Test" Drives Innocent Steve Wilkos Show Guest to Attempted Suicide
On Tuesday, 10 December 2019, Anca Pennington, 30, of Omaha, Nebraska purchased three bottles of Tylenol, each containing 24 pills, after passing through security at Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey. She then proceeded to a restroom stall, swallowed all of the pills, and laid down to die.

CBP Polygraph Test for Espionage, Sabotage, and Corruption (TES-C) Standard Operating Procedure Manual
AntiPolygraph.org has obtained a copy of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Credibility Assessment Division's Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for administration of its primary pre-employment polygraph screening technique, the Test for Espionage, Sabotage, and Corruption (TES-C).

NCCA Test for Espionage and Sabotage Administration Guide
The "Test for Espionage and Sabotage" is the primary counterintelligence-scope polygraph screening format employed but he Departments of Defense and Energy. The procedure is described in detail in a 2016 National Center for Credibility Assessment administration guide obtained by AntiPolygraph.org.

NCCA Law Enforcement Pre-Employment Test (LEPET)
AntiPolygraph.org has obtained a copy of the National Center for Credibility Assessment's documentation of the polygraph screening technique "used by federal law enforcement agencies during the pre-employment process."

My PD Application and Failed Polygraph Story
"Hello. I have lurked here at AntiPolygraph.org now for a couple of years. That's how long my fail has bothered me. I've decided to come forward with my story not only to add a voice to the number of crushed hopes and dreams...but also to provide hope that one can fail and still be successful in law enforcement; you just do not give up…."

USSS Poly
"The following is my experience with the USSS polygraph exam. I will not use the name of the examiner or location of my testing site. I can honestly say that I didn't know of this site before my exam but I wish I had…."


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