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.

2 thoughts on “Drew Richardson, RIP”

  1. 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.

  2. 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)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Current day month ye@r *