“Speaker Rates Polygraphs as Unreliable”

Los Alamos Monitor assistant editor Roger Snodrass reports on a recent talk by Professor William G. Iacono at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Excerpt:

Conventional “lie-detecting” is an outdated and dubious practice that is inherently biased against innocent people. That is the conclusion of William Iacono, a psychology professor from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, who spoke Thursday at a Physics and Theoretical Division Colloquium at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Polygraph testing has been an increasingly prescribed antidote to recent security lapses and espionage fears at the laboratory and in the national defense complex in general.

Iacono, according to the lab’s announcement, “is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost clinical psychophysiologists,” and “as a national expert on polygraphic interrogation and lie detection.”

His talk, he said, would answer the question, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to worry about, right?” — a question from the cover of a vintage magazine from the 1940s with an artist’s rendering of a polygraph examination of that era. The fading respectability of the procedure was reinforced by Iacono with the information that the “lie-detector” was invented in 1924 by William Moulton Marston, and that Marston, who wrote under the pen name of “Charles Moulton,” was also the creator of the Wonder Woman comic strip. Wonder Woman, recalled Iacono, had a magic lasso that caused those encircled by its coils to tell the truth.

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