As of 4 August 2003, Doug Williams has removed from his website the language attacking AntiPolygraph.org quoted in this article. For discussion of the issues raised here, see the AntiPolygraph.org message board discussion thread, A Response to Doug Williams.
A Response to Doug Williams
by George W. Maschke
1 August 2003
Douglas Gene Williams, author of "How to Sting the Polygraph," a manual on polygraph countermeasures that is available for sale on his website, www.polygraph.com, has published a veiled attack against AntiPolygraph.org and myself on his Frequently Asked Questions page:
THERE IS EVEN ONE WEBSITE OUT THERE THAT EQUATES BEING "ANTI" WITH BEING AN EXPERT. HE FREELY ADMITS THAT THE ONLY EXPERIENCE HE HAS WITH THE POLYGRAPH IS THAT HE HAS FLUNKED TWO TESTS. BUT THAT DOESN'T STOP HIM FROM GIVING ADVICE ON HOW TO "BEAT" THE POLYGRAPH. HE EVEN HAS A BULLETIN BOARD WHERE YOU CAN GET "ADVICE" FROM ANONYMOUS POSTS PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW ANY MORE THAN YOU DO - NOW THAT OUGHT TO MAKE YOU FEEL CONFIDENT! HE'S BASICALLY HARMLESS JUST ANOTHER POOR POLYGRAPH VICTIM TRYING TO BUILD UP HIS WOUNDED EGO - BUT THE POORLY WRITTEN, CONFUSING, AND OUT OF DATE INFORMATION IN HIS "BOOK" IS NOT SO HARMLESS. AS THE SAYING GOES, "A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS A DANGEROUS THING". I HAVE READ HIS STUFF AND IN MY EXPERT OPINION, IT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO PREPARE YOU TO PASS THE POLYGRAPH TEST. THE ONLY THING OF VALUE IS WHAT HE GOT FROM AN OLD EDITION OF MY MANUAL AND HE DIDN'T EVEN GET THAT RIGHT. BUT AT LEAST IT'S FREE HE IS SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW WHAT HIS INFORMATION IS WORTH. (original emphasis)
It is not clear why Mr. Williams chooses not to name the website and person to whom he is referring above, but it is clear that the website to which he refers is AntiPolygraph.org, and that the "he" to whom he refers is myself. Perhaps the reason Mr. Williams chooses not to name the website of which he speaks is that he would prefer that any who have not yet visited AntiPolygraph.org not discover this non-profit website?
Mr. Williams begins his attack with the claim that AntiPolygraph.org "equates being 'anti' with being an expert." This is utter nonsense. Neither I nor anyone else has equated a person's opposition to polygraphy with a person's being an expert.
Mr. Williams is apparently referring to myself when he writes, "He freely admits that the only experience he has with the polygraph is that he has flunked two tests. But that doesn't stop him from giving advice on how to 'beat' the polygraph." Indeed, it was my experience of "flunking" two polygraph examinations -- when I had in fact been truthful -- that first led me to research polygraphy. It seems that Mr. Williams would like visitors to his website to discount what I have to say about polygraph matters because of my negative experience with the polygraph. But the information about polygraphy and polygraph countermeasures that is available on AntiPolygraph.org, and especially in our free e-book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector, is based not on any claimed personal experience -- either my own or that of others -- but rather on extensive research of the polygraph literature. The Lie Behind the Lie Detector is well-annotated with citations that skeptical readers may check for themselves.
Although I make no specific claim to being an "expert," neither would it be correct to characterize me as entirely uninformed with regard to polygraph matters. (At the risk of appearing immodest, I think it appropriate to note that the National Academy of Sciences' Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph saw fit to invite me to Washington, D.C. to deliver a presentation at the second in their series of public meetings.)
Doug Williams continues: "He even has a bulletin board where you can get 'advice' from anonymous posts people who don't know any more than you do - now that ought to make you feel confident!" AntiPolygraph.org maintains a message board that has become the Internet's leading forum for uncensored discussion and debate of polygraph matters. Everyone is welcome to participate, including both polygraph opponents and supporters. Even Mr. Williams himself has occasionally posted on the AntiPolygraph.org message board. We allow anonymous posting because it fosters the free exchange of ideas, allowing some persons to participate who might otherwise fear retaliation for candidly expressing their views. We even have a forum dedicated to discussion of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector where everyone is free to post any commentary or criticism they may have. Indeed, we welcome such criticism. Mr. Williams's website, by contrast, provides no such discussion forum.
Mr. Williams characterizes me as "basically harmless just another poor polygraph victim trying to build up his wounded ego." I am certainly not attempting to cause harm to anyone. But Williams' unsupported allegation that I am just "trying to build up [my] wounded ego" is simply not true. Gino Scalabrini and I created AntiPolygraph.org in order to expose and end polygraph waste, fraud, and abuse. The website exists to educate the public, and especially those who may someday face a polygraph examination. We don't want others to suffer the same harm that we have because of our government's misplaced faith in the pseudoscience of polygraphy. I am particularly troubled by Mr. Williams' characterization of me as "just another poor polygraph victim." Does he genuinely care about the plight of polygraph victims?
Speaking of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector, Williams continues "but the poorly written, confusing, and out of date information in his 'book' is not so harmless." It is not clear why Mr. Williams puts the word "book" in quotation marks. Perhaps he is somehow convinced that The Lie Behind the Lie Detector is not really a book?
Mr. Williams does not tell us just what it is in The Lie Behind the Lie Detector that he considers to be "poorly written, confusing, and out of date," so it is difficult to respond to this criticism. Perhaps Mr. Williams would be so kind as to post any specific criticisms he may have on the AntiPolygraph.org message board? This way, visitors to AntiPolygraph.org would be warned against the harm that Mr. Williams would have them believe may befall them if they read our "book."
Williams contends that in his expert opinion, the information in The Lie Behind the Lie Detector "is not good enough to prepare you to pass the polygraph test." But he does not explain why he believes this to be the case.
Williams claims that "the only thing of value is what he got from an old edition of my manual and he didn't even get that right." Not true. The countermeasure information in The Lie Behind the Lie Detector is based on a variety of sources, including Williams' manual, "How to Sting the Polygraph." But it is also based on other sources, including peer-reviewed countermeasure studies by Professor Charles R. Honts and collaborators, Professor David T. Lykken's seminal treatise, A Tremor in the Blood: Uses and Abuses of the Lie Detector, Department of Defense Polygraph Institute documentation, and articles published in the American Polygraph Association quarterly publication, Polygraph. All these sources are appropriately referenced where relied upon in the book and are included in the bibliography.
Williams concludes his diatribe saying, "but at least it's free - he is smart enough to know what his information is worth." Unlike Mr. Williams's website, AntiPolygraph.org is not a profit-seeking enterprise. As Gino Scalabrini and I note in the introduction to The Lie Behind the Lie Detector, we have distributed this book in electronic format free of charge in order to reach the broadest audience possible. We didn't write it to make money, and our only request is that if readers find it informative and useful, that they tell others about it.
In summary, I don't think that Mr. Williams has offered any rational argument as to why anyone should disregard any information on AntiPolygraph.org in general or in The Lie Behind the Lie Detector in particular.