Drew Richardson, RIP

Drew Richardson speaking at Georgetown University
Drew Richardson speaking at Georgetown University in 2013 (Georgetown University Journal of Health Sciences photograph)

It is with deep sadness that we report that retired FBI scientist and supervisory special agent Dr. Drew C. Richardson, who has for many years been a friend and mentor to AntiPolygraph.org’s co-founders, was killed in a tragic accident at his home in Greenville, Virginia on Thursday, 21 July 2016. He was 65 years old.

Dr. Richardson, who spent his FBI career in the Bureau’s laboratory division, was also a polygraph expert and the Bureau’s most outspoken internal critic of polygraphy. In 1997, speaking before a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Dr. Richardson testified that “[polygraph screening] is completely without any theoretical foundation and has absolutely no validity” and that “anyone can be taught to beat this type of polygraph exam in a few minutes.”

In February 2001, after the arrest of FBI Robert P. Hanssen on espionage charges, Dr. Richardson sent a memorandum to then FBI Director Louis Free advising him that “there is NO evidence whatsoever that polygraph screening has any validity as a diagnostic tool” (original emphasis) and cautioning against any temptation to embrace polygraph screening. Director Free regrettably chose to ignore Dr. Richardson’s advice.

In October 2001, Dr. Richardson was an invited speaker at a public meeting of the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph. The critique of polygraphy he provided then remains as pertinent today as it was fifteen years ago.

In 2002, Dr. Richardson issued his challenge to the polygraph community to prove their claimed ability to detect polygraph countermeasures. No polygraph operator ever exhibited the confidence to accept Dr. Richardson’s challenge.

We cherish Drew’s memory.

Among other pursuits, Dr. Richardson was an avid paraglider. We leave you with his most recent posting to his YouTube channel:

Update: A discussion thread has been started on the AntiPolygraph.org message board.

Comments 7

  • We, in the paragliding club where Drew was active, know we have lost a brother. Drew was a true friend and was always positive, supportive and a great host. Only 3 weeks ago, my wife and I joined him for a practice session with our gliders at his home, after which he and his Eleanor broke bread with us, toasted our time together, put us up for the night and made plans for many more visits.
    After that wonderfully successful practice session, Drew had invited the entire club to join in such training at his estate. Some pilots visited just days before the accident. We will miss our friend.

    Drew, you were taken too soon. Fly on my brother. Fly on.

  • The tragic accident that took Drew’s life on July 21 has shocked us all. It was a privilege for me to know Drew and to collaborate with him (and finally with Graham) on aspects of lie detection. He was a fine person and an exemplary scientist, someone who could put his scientific mind to practical issues of societal justice and good. And he was brave. Very few people have been prepared to examine issues of lie detection with detachment and to try to pull back the wool that has shaded so many eyes for so many decades. This cause has lost a great proponent. I will miss him personally and in the anti-polygraph fight.

    John Furedy
    Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Toronto
    (Resident in Sydney Australia)

  • I just found out that Drew was dead, sorry for this word, but he was so much a scientist and would not want me using an euphemisms. Back in the Russian hey days of the early 1990’s we worked together.

    Like all of my FBI counterparts, he would meet in covert places always with his gun under is arm in the nicest holster. I teased him frequently and ruffled his feathers completely. But we sent Robert Hansson to the Big House in Colorado and I saw his pride and excellent & dedication to the FBI. Ellie, I never met you, but I know he found his true love. Drew was one of the Brightest lights at the FBI, right up there with Robert Mueller. Today, In doing some work, I realized it had been a few years since I had heard from him, and now I know why and am so saddened to see his obituary. God Bless and God protect you. Xoxo, Michele Yvonne Saranovich

  • He did a show on Forensic Files. Something clicked in me. I could tell he was an honest man so I looked him up and I just found out that he was in an accident and passed away. I’m so sorry. So very sorry. I wanted to talk to him about Wayfair York Hospital. Where they murdered my boyfriend. I was going to ask him for advice. Gosh I’m so sorry he’s gone. I’ll bet our president Donald Trump would have absolutely loved him.

  • I met Drew only once..on the island where my family and I lived.we spent a day on the golf course.he made me laugh so hard when he did the “worm”.he then came out to dinner with my husband and kids and myself.they asked him so many questions and he was so patient. A few years later my family went out on a boat and never came back.six people were killed that day.drew had left me his phone number and I called him in utter pain and confusion.that lovely man called me back more than once just to make sure I was okay.drew..I was not okay then..but I am okay now.i hope you are up there with my husband and son and they are asking you a million questions.

  • We need more people like Drew Richardson in the FBI. I feel that one reason the pseudoscience polygraph and the related VSA is still hanging around is because of the FBI and other federal government departments continuing to use these devices that have been proven to have coin toss accuracy. State and local governments look up to the federal branches, and I feel if the feds would finally come clean on the bogusness of the polygraph and VSA, many state and local governments would follow their lead.
    After all, there is a great deal of mistrust of government, and government agencies continuing to use the known pseudo science of polygraphs and VSA is not helping in the credibility department.

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