Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb (Read 45451 times)
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A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb
Mar 5th, 2001 at 11:01pm
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American Polygraph Association president Milton O. "Skip" Webb, Jr. appeared with Doug Williams, author of "How to Sting the Polygraph" on ABC News' Sam Show webcast on Friday, 2 March 2001. To view the half-hour show, go to http://more.abcnews.go.com/onair/dailynews/samdonaldson_index.html. You will need RealPlayer to view the show.

President Webb has previously declined to state how polygraph examiners should handle subjects who understand the trickery on which polygraph "testing" depends (See my questions and his replies at http://antipolygraph.org/read.shtml#informed-subjects)

During the course of the Sam Show, President Webb made several dubious claims, and I challenge him to either support or retract them here (I will notify Mr. Webb of this challenge by e-mail):

Quote:
Skip Webb: "There's a... a wealth of research that clearly shows that polygraph is in the neighborhood of 90 plus percent accuracy upwards to 98 percent accuracy."


Challenge to APA President Skip Webb: list all studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals that purport to establish the validity of the control/comparison question technique under field conditions. (Hint: as of 1998, there were only four, and they do not establish that the procedure works at better than chance levels of accuracy. See Chapter 8 of David T. Lykken's A Tremor in the Blood: Uses and Abuses of the Lie Detector, 2nd edition, pp. 133-35.)

Quote:
Sam Donaldson: Skip, what about this? Some other emotion other than a lie is engendered when you ask me a question and you read it as a lie?

Skip Webb: Well, first of all, we do an extensive pre-test interview with the individual. We make sure that the room itself, that the interview itself, and that the protocol that's followed prior to the actual testing does away with those types of things that Mr. Williams is referring to. We're gonna make sure that there are no outside noises. We're gonna try to do it in a private setting. We're gonna try to explain in great detail the instrument. So we're gonna take away a lot of that anxiety of doing something new and foreign. If you were taking that test, what you would find, Sam, is that by the time you go through that hour or so pre-test, we've explained all of the instrument functions; we've explained the questions that we're going to ask; we've gone over those questions to ensure that there are no communications problems or misunderstandings; we've given you an opportunity to vent those frustrations or emotions or anger or fear that Doug was referring to. So the test is not done in a vacuum. It's not done by simply walking you into the room, attaching you to the instrument, and conducting a test. Those things we take care of in the pre-test.


Skip Webb failed to mention that in the pre-test, the explanation of the procedure provided to the examinee is false and misleading. (See pp. 42-44 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.)

Challenge to APA President Skip Webb: Prove that the pre-test procedure you described prevents polygraph examiners from "reading as lies" physiological reactions arising from causes other than deception. Cite peer-reviewed scientific research to support your arguments.

Quote:
Skip Webb: ...in the federal government, both the Department of Defense and in other areas of the government, we do not make any decision based solely on the adverse results of a polygraph. So no adverse action is every taken on anyone based simply on the results of a polygraph....


Mr. Webb's claim that "no adverse action is ever taken on anyone based simply on the results of a polygraph" is untrue. Applicants for employment with federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, and the Drug Enforcement Agency are routinely denied employment based simply on a "failed" polygraph "test." Eleven plaintiffs have pending lawsuits  against the government for this very reason. (See filings in Croddy et al. v. FBI et al. and John Doe #6 et al. v. FBI et al. at http://antipolygraph.org/read.shtml#litigation)

In addition, the FBI launched a massive espionage investigation against former Special Agent Mark  E. Mallah based solely on a "failed" polygraph "test," ruining his career, even though he was eventually cleared. (See his statement:  http://antipolygraph.org/statements/statement-002.shtml.) And hundreds of  CIA employees have reportedly had their careers put on hold because they "failed" a polygraph "test."

Challenge to APA President Skip Webb: The American Polygraph Association motto is "Dedicated to Truth." Your assertion that no adverse action is ever taken against anyone based simply on the results of a polygraph is untrue, and you know it. Show your dedication to truth by contacting Sam Donaldson of ABC News to correct yourself. (Whether or not you choose to do so, you can rest assured that I will be contacting him.)

Last modification: George Maschke - 03/05/01 at 15:01:20
  
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An idea
Reply #1 - Mar 5th, 2001 at 10:41pm
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George,

As I'm sure you well know, Webb appeared on national TV at the behest of all federal polygraph examiners (reading between the lines). His appearance was meant to buttress public confidence in polygraphs, wich leads to the re-election of legislators who push for polygraphy, which in turn leads to the examiners keeping their jobs.

[Just an incidental side note: has anyone ever noticed that an examiner is never at risk of being accused of not doing his job right? Since a polygraph is administered in situations where there is no conclusive proof either way of the question or issue at hand, the examiner can come up with any conclusion of his choosing, and there's nothing out there to refute it. The rest of us of course have real performance standards and results to achieve.]

Anyway, returning to the whole public confidence issue, I think it would be great if, when you contact ABC, you offered to be interviewed about the polygraph. You could cite all your knowledge about peer-reviewed literature which lambasts polygraph validity; and you could refute all of Webb's fallacious reasoning. I'm sure it would really really help make a dent in the public's perception of the polygraph. The thing is, our cause needs media attention for it to pan out!!
  
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Re: A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb
Reply #2 - Mar 5th, 2001 at 11:55pm
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FP,

I concur completely.  Polygraphers currently enjoy insulation from oversight that is unparalleled in our society. 

Basically, the only available outlet for complaints is to contact polygraph boards.  Since membership in these groups is almost exclusively limited to polygraphers, one can see how they tend not to be the most objective of bodies.

Hopefully, the media will eventually pick up on this. 
  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb
Reply #3 - Mar 27th, 2001 at 10:59am
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Three weeks have now passed since I notified American Polygraph Association president Skip Webb of this public challenge by e-mail. For reasons he surely knows best, he has not responded.

However, in the absence of any clarification from Mr. Webb, those who are interested in polygraph policy may draw their own inferences.
  

George W. Maschke
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Re: A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb
Reply #4 - Mar 28th, 2001 at 12:07am
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Dear George
Shocked I sent a post re: this interview, as you know my first response was sent to you via e-mail.
I later sent a reply (the same note as the e-mail)
to this forum.  Did I send that one incorrectly also.  Did you receive it? what did I do wrong.

Rat Latimer
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Re: A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb
Reply #5 - Mar 28th, 2001 at 4:27am
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I found it very insightful to read the comments
of "Skip" Webb Jr., on your website. Mr Webb is one
of the first persons who I contacted after my polygraph. I had written to the American
Polygraph Association asking for any advice, direction, knowledge, opinion or anything and was fortunate enough to receive his compassionate reply. In effect he told me to write a letter to my Congressman and that he didn't want to get involved.

I cannot help but think that when good people have been robbed of their rights then contempt, belligerence, and malicious disinterest are part of the accepted social discourse. Mr Webb's
response left me disgusted, and although I have never met him, his reply fits my perception of everything that is wrong with the
polygraph.




  
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Re: A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb
Reply #6 - Mar 28th, 2001 at 6:02am
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Anon,

Excellent point.  You found out the hard way that it does little good to complain to Polygraphers' Associations about erroneous results or misconduct.  I think "Wild Bill" put it very well when he said that the polygraphers associations amount little more than "the farmer with the shotgun guarding the turkeys" when it comes to complaints against members.

And yes, it does seem that there is at least tacit acceptance of behavior in the polygraph community that would be considered unprofessional to say the least in almost any other realm.

Lastly, I could not help but notice that Mr. Webb chose to make personal attacks against George Maschke in his December 15thresponse to a letter Mr. Maschke sent requesting clarification of the APA's position on an issue.  The response attacked Mr. Maschke's background and stated that "It appears that [Mr. Maschke's] intense
interest in polygraph stems from [his] inability to pass a polygraph!"  Meanwhile, Mr. Webb made a dodgy response when actually fielding the question posed to him.  It is truly unfortunate that he has chosen to resort to ad hominem attacks instead of adding to the open discussion of polygraph policy.
  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb
Reply #7 - Mar 28th, 2001 at 6:59am
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Quote:
Dear George
Shocked I sent a post re: this interview, as you know my first response was sent to you via e-mail.
I later sent a reply (the same note as the e-mail)
to this forum.  Did I send that one incorrectly also.  Did you receive it? what did I do wrong.

Rat Latimer
a proud NTC graduate


Ray,

I didn't see the note you e-mailed me on this forum. You'll want to post it in the specific message thread to which you were responding. As I recall, your opening remarks were on CBS News' reference to people being "strapped into polygraph chairs." That appeared in the following message thread:

http://www.antipolygraph.org/cgi-bin/forums/YaBB.pl?board=Policy&action=display&...

If you load that page, you can hit either "Reply" button at the right-hand side of the top and bottom of the page, or, alternatively, you can hit the "quote" button at the bottom of the message I posted which includes an excerpt from the CBS News report in order to include in your post a quotation from the specific message to which you're replying. (I used this option to quote your message here.)
  

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Re: A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb
Reply #8 - Mar 28th, 2001 at 10:20pm
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I recently seen a video of the Sam Donaldson Interview.  What a shame!  Mr. williams allowed himself to be introduced as a former White House employee who conducted polygraph examinations on all types of Federal Agents, he claims to have conducted over 6000 and he allowed Mr. Donaldson to believe that he, Mr. Williams, had conducted research on the validity and reliability of the polygraph instrument.  I do not know Mr. Williams and I have no personal knowledge as to whether or not he conducted and research/studies or how many exams he conducted. I did observe however that when the president of the APA refuted these "facts", Mr. Williams hdid not defend himself.  I was surprised to hear that Mr. Williams was a police officer and a polygraph examiner for"almost" 5 years and that in that short time he had administered over 6000 polygraph examinations.  Why, I wonder did it take Mr. Williams "almost"5 years and over 6000 polygraph examinations to come to the conclusion that he could "no longer condone the abuse of personal freedom and the violation of the right to privacy" that he was engaging in by administering Polygraph examinations.  He must be a slow learner.  I am glad that he didn't go to medical school.  I am sure that he is making a lot more money now, peddling his pamphlet.
Why would one have to read a book(?) on how to"beat" something that doesn't work?  I sent Mr. Williams an e-mail sometime ago asking this same question and I never received an answer.
I was recently given a copy of his pamphlet.  I took the full 10 minutes required to read it thoroughly and I immediately felt a sense of relief.  If thsi is the best there is, polygraphists should have no fear.  At the risk of being accused of making ad hominem attacks, I can agree with one "fact" inthe "ABOUT THE AUTHOR" blip on the back cover of Mr. William's pamphlet, I am quite sure that he holds a B---S--- degree.  Nuff said!!
I also read the download from this forum, and I must say that it is well written and much more informative and well worth the cost- ZERO!

Ray Latimer

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Re: A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb
Reply #9 - Mar 29th, 2001 at 12:29am
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Ray,

You wrote in part:

Quote:
Why would one have to read a book(?) on how to"beat" something that doesn't work? I sent Mr. Williams an e-mail sometime ago asking this same question and I never received an answer.


I'll be happy to answer this question. Because "control" question "test" (CQT) polygraphy hasn't been shown by peer-reviewed scientific research to be capable of distinguishing between truth and deception at better than chance levels of accuracy in the field (and indeed, because the CQT is not even a standardized psychometric test to begin with), truthful persons run a significant risk of being wrongly branded as liars when they submit to polygraphic interrogation.

You also wrote:

Quote:
I also read the download from this forum, and I must say that it is well written and much more informative and well worth the cost- ZERO!


If you intend this as a criticism of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector, it would be more instructive if you were to point out anything therein that you believe to be untrue.

On a final note, while you questioned Doug Williams' credentials and character (without commenting on anything he had to say about polygraphy), you did not address the challenge I put to American Polygraph Association president Skip Webb in the first message of this thread. I would be interested in your thoughts regarding Mr. Webb's above-referenced representations.
  

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Re: A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb
Reply #10 - Mar 29th, 2001 at 7:58pm
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Hi George,
A quick reply.  Since I have no idea as to what a "Standardized psychometric test" is, I cannot comment on the answer that you were "happy" to give.  Yes! I was referring to "The Lie Behind The Lie Detector"  and my criticism, I thought, was somewhat complimentary.  I am going to read this book again, this time I will highlight that, which in my opinion, is untrue.  When I have completed this task i will do my best, with my limited time and resources, to put together an intelligent rebuttal.  I drive a car every day and yet I am neither an automotive engineer nor a mechanic.  I know for a fact that my car starts when I turn the key and it gets me to the office.  As long as maintain the car, obey the traffic rules and use common sense the car performs as it was designed to do.  My neighbor has a different make of auto and he spends (wastes) a lot of time telling me how surprised he is that my car works.  He referrs me to all kinds of consumer reports,user complaints and criticisms etc. and offers these as reasons why my 10 year old car is unreliable and dangerous  and should not get me the office every day.  Not being an engineer or a mechanic, I can only reply that it works for me.  I suppose that I could spend some time investigating and reading manuals etc. and that I could probably come up with some logical and persuaive explanations as to why my car works.  However no matter what I come up with, I know that I will never convince Frank that my car is safe and reliable.  I hope that you can recognize the anology that I am trying to make.  I recognize the fact that I am leaving myself open here to a rash of pseudo intellectual comments.  (this is not a reference to you, I find your remarks and statements to be well thought out and courteously delivered)  On a final not, I did not address the challenge put to Skip Webb, because I believe that Mr. Webb should respond to it.  Thanx for your patience and help in getting my posts on this forum.

Ray L.

  
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Re: A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb
Reply #11 - Mar 29th, 2001 at 11:10pm
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Ray,

A psychometric test is one that takes some kind of mental measurement. Standardization, in this context, means that the test is administered the same way each time. The IQ test is an example of a standardized psychometric test. But the polygraph "control" question "test" (CQT) lacks standardization. Each subject receives a different pre-test interview and a customized set of "control" questions (which provide no control in the scientific sense of the word). And an unstandardized post-test interrogation may follow. As a result of this lack of standardization, no true validity rate can be established for the CQT: it is not a valid "test."

This fundamental shortcoming notwithstanding, CQT polygraphy can serve as a useful aid to interrogation to the extent that it induces naive and gullible subjects to make admissions that they might not otherwise make. But that is all. One cannot say with any specificiable degree of certainty that a subject is truthful or deceptive based on the interpretation of polygraph charts. In the words of Leonard Harrelson, longtime director of the Keeler Polygraph Institute:

Quote:
Polygrams [polygraph charts] are polygrams. They measure and record physiological reactions. And they do so very well, but one cannot look at a polygram and say, "That's a lie." It may be a reaction, but no one can say that it is a lie. An examiner may interpret a reaction to be a lie, but in actual practice, the examiner is also observing the subject, listening to verbal explanations, and making a judgment about the person's truthfulness. Some examiners are simply better at this than others.

Because of their experience in talking with people and their success in obtaining confessions, polygraph examiners may come to feel very confident about making a determination of truth or deception based on their charts. Indeed, if a person is reacting, it is the examiner's job to determine why and to obtain a confession if they believe that deception is the cause of the reactions. But without a confession, polygrams are still just polygrams. (Lie Test: Deception, Truth, and the Polygraph, Jonas Publishing, 1998, p. 158)


Although APA president Skip Webb claimed to Sam Donaldson of ABC News that "[t]here's a... a wealth of research that clearly shows that polygraph is in the neighborhood of 90 plus percent accuracy upwards to 98 percent accuracy," the "research" to which he referred does not appear in peer-reviewed scientific publications. For further reading on the validity of CQT polygraphy, I refer you to chapter 1 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector and the sources cited therein.

I do appreciate the analogy you made between your car just working despite your neighbor's criticism of the model. But I respectfully submit that your analogy is simplistic, and that methodologies that purport to be science-based are not customarily validated in this manner.

In addition, I do look forward to any specific criticism of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector you may provide, and to continuing our exchange of ideas.

(And, of course, I would be grateful if Skip Webb, as the senior representative of those who profess to be "Dedicated to Truth," might find it within him to publicly substantiate or withdraw the claims he publicly made to Sam Donaldson.)
  

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A New Public Challenge to Skip Webb
Reply #12 - Jul 16th, 2001 at 9:37am
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Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn wrote about polygraphy in a 14 July 2001 column titled, "Truth is elusive in debate over lie detectors":

http://chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/zorn/

Zorn spoke with both Doug Williams, author of "How to Sting the Polygraph" and American Polygraph Association President Skip Webb. Zorn writes in part:

Quote:
Williams, 55, sells an instructional booklet over the Internet (polygraph.com) that explains how to manipulate one's physical responses in ways to appear honest to the person administering a polygraph. He and others who sell such material say the purpose is not to aid lawbreakers and liars, but to protect the innocent by discrediting highly overrated technology.

American Polygraph Association president Skip Webb said it's Williams who's highly overrated. His methods are "outdated," Webb said, and his customers have the same slim chance as anyone else of fooling a polygraph examiner--the APA Web site (polygraph.org) cites research showing tests are up to 98 percent accurate.


Challenge to Skip Webb: cite any research supporting your contention that the methods Williams describes in "How to Sting the Polygraph" are "outdated" and that his customers have the same chance as anyone else of fooling a polygraph examiner. If you're truly "dedicated to truth" (American Polygraph Association motto), you should be able to support your statements to Mr. Zahn, whom I will notify by e-mail of this challenge.

A peer-reviewed laboratory study by Charles R. Honts, David C. Raskin, and John C. Kircher titled "Mental and Physical Countermeasures Reduce the Accuracy of Polygraph Tests" and published in the Journal of Applied Psychology (Vol. 79 [1994], No. 2, pp. 252-59) showed that about 50% of test subjects who received no more than 30 minutes of training in how to beat the polygraph were successful in doing so. And similar results were obtained in an earlier experiment by Honts, Robert L. Hodes, and Raskin: "Effects of Physical Countermeasures on the  Physiological Detection of Deception," Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 70 (1985), No. 1, pp. 177-87. Abstracts of both articles are included in the bibliography of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.
  

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Re: A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb
Reply #13 - Jul 16th, 2001 at 11:32am
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Apparently Mr. Zorn was not fooled by Mr. Webb's lack of candor and misrepresentations.  His (Zorn's) last statement/paragraph is quite revealing:
    "Under the circumstances, anyone who would willingly trust his reputation, his career, his freedom or his fortune to a lie detector is a fool. Honest."

  
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Re: A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb
Reply #14 - Aug 29th, 2001 at 9:11pm
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Given the usually articulate responses I see on this site I was very distressed to see how inaccurately the results of the two Honts studies quoted by Mr Maschke were portrayed.  I would suggest that anyone truely interested in the findings and conclusions of these studies obtain them for themselves and read them.  Those conclusions are protrayed in a VERY misleading way by Mr Maschke.
  
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A Public Challenge to APA President Skip Webb

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