Denver Post staff writer Ryan Morgan reports. Excerpt:
Thursday, December 26, 2002 – Ben Aragon swears he’s telling the truth.
The polygraph machine he’s hooked up to isn’t so sure.
So Aragon, who has been taking polygraph exams since he was put on probation for sexually assaulting his girlfriend two years ago, is fighting the machine.
He’s armed with a study issued by the National Academy of Sciences in October calling polygraphs junk science and urging the federal government to stop using the devices.
The Aurora man has to take the tests as a condition of his probation several times a year, but he wants that requirement thrown out. He has protested to his probation officers and shared the study with them.
“Ain’t that wild, that they can’t use it for national security or jobs at an airport, yet they’re using it as a form of punishment?” Aragon asked.
One of the study’s authors agrees with Aragon’s assessment.
“It’s an imprecise instrument,” said Kevin Murphy, a professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University. “There are circumstances where people tend to give it a lot more deference than they should, and this would be an instance of probably making high-stakes decisions on the basis of polygraph exams, which may not be the best idea.”