Normal Topic The morality of disseminating the truth (Read 3365 times)
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The morality of disseminating the truth
Mar 10th, 2002 at 5:39am
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A recent spate of posts by the pro-polygraph community has resulted in the creation of this thread, located in this particular folder since the majority of their collective criticisms center around post-conviction probationees and parolees using the information found in The Lie Behind The Lie Detector to somehow break the law and continue their lives of crime. [Note to Mr. Maschke: Of course if this thread belongs elsewhere, feel free to move it.]

I think a discussion of the ethics and morality of disseminating information concerning the frauds of polygraphy as well as appropriate countermeasures to help secure a scoring of 'NDI' should begin with briefly addressing the ethics and morality of both he who administers the polygraph and he who is the examinee.

Fundamentally, the pseudo-science of polygraphy depends upon the examiner deceiving the examinee. Deceptive statements or more succinctly 'lies' are propounded by the polygrapher in each of the phases of a polygraph interrogation. Thus, the 'you're a dirty liar' argument coming from the other side of the aisle fails to compel me, as the exact same observation may be made for both parties in the polygraph interrogation room. Even if the polygraph interrogation subject is determined to be entirely truthful, the polygraph interrogator expects him to lie.

The ethics of lying in order to obtain confessions or admissions one might not have obtained otherwise is discussed in superb fashion in another thread here on the boards, but I will quote Dr. Drew Richardson in part here:

"Deceptions for the average examiner would include (but not necessarily be limited to) intentional oversimplification, confuscation, misrepresentation, misstatement, exaggeration, and known false statement.  Amongst the areas and activities that such deceptions will occur within a given polygraph exam and on a continual basis are the following:

(1)      A discussion of the autonomic nervous system, its anatomy and physiology, its role in the conduct of a polygraph examination, and the examiner’s background as it supports his pontifications regarding said subjects.  In general, an examiner has no or little educational background that would qualify him to lead such a discussion and his discussion contains the likely error that gross oversimplification often leads to.

(2)      The discussion, conduct of, and post-test explanations of the “stim” test, more recently referred to as an “acquaintance” test.

(3)      Examiner representations about the function of irrelevant questions in a control question test (CQT) polygraph exam.

(4)      Examiner representations about the function of control questions and their relationship to relevant questions in a CQT exam.

(5)      Examiner representations about any recognized validity of the CQT (or other exam formats) in a screening application and about what conclusions can reasonably be drawn from the exam at hand, i.e. the one principally of concern to the examinee.

(6)      A host of misrepresentations that are made as “themes” and spun to examinees during a post-test interrogation.

(7)      The notion that polygraphy merits consideration as a scientific discipline, forensic psychophysiology or other…

This listing is not offered as complete (nor in any way are the surrounding thoughts fully developed) but merely as a starting point for the following commentary and recommendation.   You have stated that court opinions have been written which sanction the use of deception on the part of law enforcement officers.  Agreed.  I would suggest for your consideration the following points:

(1)      The deceptions cited in such decisions are generally isolated to specific actions/conversations occurring within specific investigations, not pandemic and not necessary to the day-to-day general and routine practices of law enforcement officers.

(2)      The decisions you might cite clearly refer to law enforcement officers.  On what basis would you extend this “license to lie” to civilian polygraph examiners conducting polygraph exams related to purely administrative, commercial, or domestic subjects or even to polygraphers hired by the accused in a criminal matter?"

(please see http://antipolygraph.org/cgi-bin/forums/YaBB.pl?board=Proc&action=display&am... for this thread in its entirety)

As you no doubt now gather, I am disgusted and appalled by those in authority who would depend upon such deceit, trickery, intimidation, and abuse of one's inalienable rights in order to achieve their goals, and those men and women who, as liscensed polygraphers, set themselves up as tin gods and final arbiters of truth. Deception as part of the investigative phase of judicial process? Court rulings dictate those tactics are acceptable, so I suppose it's caveat emptor.

I'm not certain who is more contemptible: the polygrapher and his deceptions, or the bureaucrat who trusts the scratchings and/or subjective opinion of the polygrapher.

Now that I have stated my viewpoint on the subject of the ethics of the opposition, I turn my attention to the morality of the examinee who employs countermeasures to help ensure a scoring of 'NDI' on his polygraph interrogation charts.
« Last Edit: Mar 10th, 2002 at 7:02am by beech trees »  

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Re: The morality of disseminating the truth
Reply #1 - Mar 10th, 2002 at 5:24pm
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(con't.)

This section is much more succinct. If a truly innocent person is 1. suspected of a crime and 2. subjected to a polygraph interrogation, then that person has a moral and ethical responsibility to himself to do everything in his power to clear his good name. Because the State in this case relies wrongly on the accuracy of polygraph charts to denote truth and falsehood, then the individual forced to undergo the travesty of a polygraph has, IMHO, no alternative except countermeasures-- physical, mental, and behavioral.

What of the person truly guilty of a crime? Citizens of the US enjoy the absolute right to avoid self-incrimination. That right is not waived even in the face of charges of heinous or despicable acts. Indeed, because of the emotionally charged nature of certain offenses (rape, child molestation, etc.), it is incumbent upon the State to proceed with even more caution lest a truly innocent person be ruined by the accusation.

The Judicial system in the US is quite clear on these points: A suspect has the absolute right NOT to incriminate himself, and the State must show a preponderance of evidence that demonstrates the accused to be guilty of the crimes with which he is charged-- guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Polygraphy has no business being a part of the system.

For the individual who's status is straddling the chasm between full citizenship and felon, the same system should apply. A person is innocent until proven guilty. If the State feels a probationee or parolee has violated the terms and conditions of his probation/parole, let them make the charges and bring it before a judge, where the scientific validity of the polygraph is known to be nil.
« Last Edit: Mar 10th, 2002 at 6:11pm by beech trees »  

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Re: The morality of disseminating the truth
Reply #2 - Mar 10th, 2002 at 6:57pm
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(con't.)

In my two previous posts I have layed out my feelings on the ethics of both sides of a polygraph interrogation:

-The 'State', in the form of the Polygraph Interrogator, is immoral and unethical in lying to the examinee. The State is immoral and unethical in relying on the polygraph to determine truth or deception.

-The Citizen examinee is moral and ethical in refusing to incriminate himself, and if forced to engage in an interrogation that is inherentley biased against the truthful, the results of which are no more scientific that the examination of sheep's offal, he or she is wise to use any and all methods at their disposal to affect the outcome.

Thus, the dissemination of information as found on antipolygraph.org is both moral and ethical.

-It will help protect the innocent against the travesty of the polygraph interrogation and hasten the destruction of the deeply-entrenched polygraph community in the US post-conviction arena.



  

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