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"...the theory and methods of polygraphic lie detection are not rocket science, indeed, they are not science at all."

Emeritus Professor
David T. Lykken

"The so-called 'control' question 'test' polygraph is a technological flight of fancy. It is often used as a psychological rubber hose to induce confessions. Founded on lies, it spreads distrust while posing as the path to truth."

Emeritus Professor
John J. Furedy

"The lie detector, in many places, is nothing more than a psychological third-degree aimed at extorting a confession as the old physical beatings were. At times I'm sorry I ever had any part in its development."

polygraph pioneer
John A. Larson (1892-1965)

"[Polygraph screening] is completely without any theoretical foundation and has absolutely no validity...the diagnostic value of this type of testing is no more than that of astrology or tea-leaf reading."

former Supervisory
Special Agent
Dr. Drew C. Richardson, (1951-2016)
FBI Laboratory Division

"Polygraph testing has been the gold standard, but it's obviously fool's gold."

Prof. Stephen E. Fienberg (1942-2016)
Chairman, Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph,
National Academy of Sciences

"If we had medical tests that had the same failure rate as a polygraph, then physicians that use those tests would be convicted of malpractice."

Dr. Alan P. Zelicoff, M.D.

"A polygraph is nothing more than a psychological billy club used to coerce and intimidate people."

Former police polygraphist
Doug Williams

"Polygraph is more art than science, and unless an admission is obtained, the final determination is frequently what we refer to as a scientific wild-ass guess (SWAG)"

CIA polygrapher
John F. Sullivan

"If you choose to implement this astrology surrogate, and to treat us with such deep disrespect, do not confuse our contempt for arrogance."

David Dearborn
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

"People in the security community are so wedded to polygraph testing that they are just going to ignore the scientific facts about this."

Jeffrey D. Colvin
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

"Whether it is screening applicants or screening employees, the polygraph is a failure. I suspect that its days as a screening tool are deservedly near an end."

former FBI Special Agent
Mark Mallah

"The US is, so far as I know, the only nation which places such extensive reliance on the polygraph....It has gotten us into a lot of trouble."

convicted spy
Aldrich H. Ames

"[The CIA's] reliance on the polygraph is truly insane"

former CIA Director
John M. Deutch

"...the use of this highly flawed instrument should be radically curtailed."

former CIA Director
R. James Woolsey

"You have to go in there with a gladiator mentality."

retired FBI polygrapher
Jack Trimarco (1947-2018)

"It's kind of like...confessing to a priest..."

T.V. O'Malley (1951-2013)
Past President,
American Polygraph Association

"If you come in concerned and scared, that's normal and a good thing."

David M. Renzelman (1939-2016)
Former DOE Polygraph
Program Chief

"I don't know anything about polygraphs, and I don't know how accurate they are, but I know they'll scare the hell out of people."

Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994)

(Why not enhance your privacy by using the free Tor Browser?)

"The whole process smacks of 20th century witchcraft." U.S. Senator Sam Ervin (1896-1985)

Polygraph "testing" has no scientific basis.
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 AntiPolygraph.org's free book (4 mb PDF):

The Lie Behind the Lie Detector

(Also available in EPUB and MOBI/Kindle formats)

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 pens 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 polygraphers 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

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Suspected Serial Killer John Arthur Ackroyd Beat the Polygraph While Woman He Raped, Marlene K. Gabrielsen, Failed It
In June 1977, John Arthur Ackroyd raped Marlene K. Gabrielsen off Highway 20 in Oregon. Gabrielsen promptly reported the rape to police, who polygraphed both her and Ackroyd. Gabrielsen, a Native American, "failed" while Ackroyd, a white army veteran, "passed." Prosecutors declined to press charges.

The Polygraph Interrogation of Christopher Lee Watts (And How He Could Have Beaten It)
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Personal Statement of a CIA Analyst
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Polygraph "Testing and the Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings
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Depositions of U.S. Secret Service Polygraph Operators Ellen Ripperger and Edward D. Alston
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The AntiPolygraph.org Podcast: Episode 1 - Polygraphs and the Kavanaugh Nomination
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Complaint and Affidavit Concerning Malfeasance by U.S. Secret Service Polygraph Operator Ellen Ripperger
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DHS OIG Whitewashes CBP Polygraph Complaints (or, CBP Dismisses 5 out of 6 Valid Complaints Against Its Polygraph Operators)
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Polygraph Place Bulletin Board Private Forum
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Google De-Lists AntiPolygraph.org on Key Search Terms
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