Polygraph Operator Sally VanBeek Doesn’t Think Sociopaths Can Beat the Lie Detector

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Seattle 911 blog today featured a video report by Parella Lewis of KCPQ-TV’s Washington’s Most Wanted show. Lewis interviewed Detective Sally VanBeek, a polygraph operator with the Everett Police Department, who opined that sociopaths cannot beat the polygraph.

Is VanBeek, who is also president of the Northwest Polygraph Examiners Association, somehow unaware that Gary Leon Ridgway of King County, Washington, one of the most prolific serial killers in American history, passed a polygraph test and continued his killing spree? What about Charles Cullen, the “Angel of Death” who passed a polygraph and went on to kill dozens?

And just last week, a New Jersey man was arrested for the killing of five teenagers in 1978. He had been wrongly cleared as a suspect because he passed a polygraph test.

Parella Lewis’ credulous reporting is a good example of the puff journalism that perpetuates the myth of the lie detector in American popular culture.

Watch the video below and see the Seattle 911 blog post for critical commentary by readers: