Normal Topic Simple experiment that polies will never do (Read 7181 times)
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Simple experiment that polies will never do
Feb 7th, 2009 at 6:19am
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One of the main articles of faith among members of the Church of the Polygraph is that an organization, such as a police department, that polygraphs it's employees and potential employees will have a better work force.  I know of no evidence for this, nor have any poly that I've ever spoken with ever so much as implied that there is any evidence that this is correct; it is simply a tenant of their faith accepted as dogma.

However, it would be very easy to test this central claim.  Here's how:

Locate a number of law enforcement agencies that, within the last 10 years, either started polygraphing potential employees where they didn't previously or that stopped polygraphing potential employees where they did previously.  Hopefully there will be a number of departments, large and small, from different areas of the country in this group.  Between state, county, city, and other law enforcement agencies (i.e. Natural Resources Police, Corrections Officers, et cetera) there are at least hundreds of departments.

Then take a look at the officers hired in the few years before they started or stopped using the polygraph and the officers hired afterwards.  Look at the following:

  • Number of official complaints lodged against them;
  • How many were fired for cause;
  • How many had internal investigations launched against them;
  • Scores on any assessments or reviews;
  • Number of reprimands issued against officers;
  • Number of crimes committed by such officers;
  • And other similar metrics that can be quantified.


If the claims of the polygraphers is true, then one would expect that officers hired in the five years before polygraph screening was instituted would have more complaints against them and poorer reviews, among other things, when compared with officers hired by the same department in the five years after instituting the polygraph.  Likewise, departments that did away with polygraph screening (if any exist) should, if the claims of the polygraphers are true, have a higher termination rate for officers hired after they did away with the polygraph than before.

There are a number of variables, but all can be easily corrected for.  By comparing people hired by the same department, you're comparing apples to apples as much as possible.  Also, hopefully the change in polygraph policy didn't all happen at the same time for all the departments (maybe, due to macroeconomic conditions, better candidates were available to hire before 1997 than just after, for example--if the dates are all different, this shouldn't be an issue).

Of course, polygraphers, being the evil bastards that they are, figure that they already have got theirs, so why risk upsetting things?  They'd never countenance this sort of research being done; they'd rather just sit around getting fatter all the time, leaching off of the society that they claim the polygraph protects.  If they were really in it for society, they'd support a study such as I suggest.

Predicted polygrapher reactions (beyond ignoring that which they can't respond to):

  • Claiming it's not their job to do research;
  • Claiming that they know the polygraph helps people, so why bother with "research" and "data"
  • Claiming it'd be impossible to do such a study, for some B.S. reason or other
  • Talking about sex offenders raping little children up the ass and violating all of our women.  Repeatedly.
  • Total silence, since they'll realize they just got their asses kicked in this argument and will just make it worse if they try to reply with anything except the truth, which will totally damn them.


The data I am suggesting we look at (1) exists; (2) can be reviewed; (3) has direct bearing on the quality of law enforcement officers; and (4) should definitely be effected if polygraph claims are true.  And if such claims are true, we should know.  And if they're not, we should know.  (Keeping the information from the public, as polygraphers want to do, is undemocratic and worthy of, among other places, North Korea.)

So, polies, why don't you have any evidence that the public is getting anything for the pre-employment screening that they're spending millions of dollars on?  Anyone?
  

Is former APA President Skip Webb evil or just stupid?

Is former APA President Ed Gelb an idiot or does the polygraph just not work?

Did you know that polygrapher Sackett doesn't care about detecting deception to relevant questions?
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Re: Simple experiment that polies will never do
Reply #1 - Feb 7th, 2009 at 12:05pm
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Lethe

As the last "evil bastard" still posting here, I heartly endorse your proposal.  Find some funding and go for it!

We really missed your hateful venom while you were gone.
  

No good social purpose can be served by inventing ways of beating the lie detector or deceiving polygraphers.   David Thoreson Lykken
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Re: Simple experiment that polies will never do
Reply #2 - Feb 7th, 2009 at 3:41pm
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pailryder wrote on Feb 7th, 2009 at 12:05pm:
Lethe

As the last "evil bastard" still posting here, I heartly endorse your proposal.  Find some funding and go for it!

We really missed your hateful venom while you were gone.


It's funny how the burden of proof isn't on the people demanding millions of dollars of public money on the premise that they're doing lots of good for public safety.

It's also funny that the closest you can come to admitting that you have no evidence for your claims is "yeah, it'd be nice if we had some evidence that what we're claiming is correct."  There's no evidence that this shit works to actually improve public safety--which is the central claim, even moreso than "it can detect lies"--and yet you haven't got the slightest problem getting fat off the public dole and ruining the lives of good people.  No problem at all.  You've got yours and that's all that matters.

Putting your own narrow interests above those of others and of society at large is the very definition of evil.  The marital status of your parents is, of course, outside of my knowledge.
  

Is former APA President Skip Webb evil or just stupid?

Is former APA President Ed Gelb an idiot or does the polygraph just not work?

Did you know that polygrapher Sackett doesn't care about detecting deception to relevant questions?
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Re: Simple experiment that polies will never do
Reply #3 - Feb 7th, 2009 at 3:50pm
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Lethe

I am a private examiner and do not receive any public money.  Your idea, you fund it.  Put your money where your potty mouth is.
  

No good social purpose can be served by inventing ways of beating the lie detector or deceiving polygraphers.   David Thoreson Lykken
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Re: Simple experiment that polies will never do
Reply #4 - Feb 7th, 2009 at 3:59pm
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pailryder,

Do you admit that there is no evidence that pre-employment screening exams increase the quality of a department or agency's workforce?  A simple question.  Yes or no please (and then, if you'd like to elaborate, please do so).
  

Is former APA President Skip Webb evil or just stupid?

Is former APA President Ed Gelb an idiot or does the polygraph just not work?

Did you know that polygrapher Sackett doesn't care about detecting deception to relevant questions?
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Re: Simple experiment that polies will never do
Reply #5 - Feb 7th, 2009 at 6:29pm
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Lethe

If one hundred applicants pass all background investigations and twenty of the one hundred then make additional disqualifying admissions because of polygraph, so that only eighty are hired, does that increase the quality of the hiring agency?
« Last Edit: Feb 7th, 2009 at 6:59pm by pailryder »  

No good social purpose can be served by inventing ways of beating the lie detector or deceiving polygraphers.   David Thoreson Lykken
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Re: Simple experiment that polies will never do
Reply #6 - Feb 7th, 2009 at 7:58pm
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Lethe wrote on Feb 7th, 2009 at 6:19am:
Then take a look at the officers hired in the few years before they started or stopped using the polygraph and the officers hired afterwards.Look at the following:


Number of official complaints lodged against them;
How many were fired for cause;
How many had internal investigations launched against them;
Scores on any assessments or reviews;
Number of reprimands issued against officers;
Number of crimes committed by such officers;
And other similar metrics that can be quantified.


Lethe
Your project looks like excellent research.  However, the data would not have any relationship to pre-employment polygraph screening.  Lets just take a look at your impracticable research one point at a time.  
•      Number of official complaints lodged against them;
o      Polygraph screening is not predictive on future behavior.
As such, this data, if it could be obtained, does not relate to pre-employment screening.

•      How many were fired for cause;
o      This has nothing to do with polygraph screening.  Polygraph screening is not predictive on future behavior.  A perfect applicant and subsequent employee could be terminated for cause for acts committed AFTER they have been employed. As such, this data does not relate to pre-employment screening.  You do understand this fundamental principle, yes?

•      How many had internal investigations launched against them;
o       Pre-employment screening is not predictive of future behavior.  As such, this data does not relate to pre-employment screening.

•      Scores on any assessments or reviews;
o      Pre-employment screening is not predictive of future behavior.  As such, this data does not relate to pre-employment screening.

•      Number of reprimands issued against officers;
o      Pre-employment screening is not predictive of future behavior.  As such, this data does not relate to pre-employment screening.

•      Number of crimes committed by such officers;
o      Criminal offenses committed after being hired have nothing to do with the previously administered pre-employment polygraph.  Again, the polygraph is not a predictive device.  As such, this data does not relate to pre-employment screening.

•      And other similar metrics that can be quantified.
o      Without identifying similar and specific metrics, I can’t comment, but I suspect my response would be similar since your criteria, thus far, does not relate to pre-employment polygraph screening.

Your premise appears to be that pre-employment screening does not weed out applicants who will at some future time have problems.  Your use of the polygraph in this fashion would be useless because, that’s right………… Pre-employment screening is not predictive of future behavior.  

Now, if you really want to get an idea what, if anything, pre-employment screening is doing.  You need to look at data that is actually verifiable and readily available.

•      Number of pre-employment exams conducted during a specific time period.

•      Number of “DI” tests

•      Number of verified “DI” tests based upon confessions/admissions/or disqualifying admissions after a “DI” test.  If there is no confession/admission/or disqualifying information, it is not verified and should not be used as the sole reason to disqualify.

•      Number of disqualifying admissions prior to the administration of the test and obtained during the pre-test interview

•      Number of “NDI” test in which information later surfaced that disqualified or resulted in the termination of the applicant/employee.  This would be information in which the applicant lied to a specific question on the pre-employment polygraph test and was scored as “NDI” (This would be the most significant finding and I, for one, would be interested in this statistic)

•      And just for the sake of detailed information, the number of “NDI” tests in which the applicant was hired, and then subsequently counseled and/or terminated, and the reason for the counseling and or/termination.  Was the counseling/termination for activity that occurred prior to the pre-employment test, or was it post-pre-employment test?

So, Lethe, that is your assignment.  Do let us know the result of your research.

There was a time when I was skeptical of pre-employment screening, until I actually started running these tests.  I was concerned that they were not effective.  It did not take long for me to realize it is an invaluable process that weeds out a remarkable number of verifiable and confirmed unqualified applicants.  The scary part is this……..how many unqualified applicants were easily able to slip through the hiring process before the tests were implemented?  That number will never be known.
 
  
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Re: Simple experiment that polies will never do
Reply #7 - Feb 7th, 2009 at 9:46pm
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Actually, a better research project would be to study the quality of law enforcement, (number of serious criminal charges brought against law enforcement personnel) for an entire state that does not polygraph, vs. an entire state that does.

I submit, that polygraph screening simply has replaced thorough background checks.  So, you get employees that are savey enough to fool the polygraph if they have committed infractions that would otherwise disqualify them, or applicants who have never done anything in their lives, (have no life experience).  In the meantime, you disqualify honest and otherwise honorable people, who feel guility about minor infractions that make the machine do the squiggly line thing.  (You know the type, the ones who show up here after the false positive disqualifies them).
  

"Although the degree of reliability of polygraph evidence may depend upon a variety of identifiable factors, there is simply no way to know in a particular case whether a polygraph examiner's Conclusion is accurate, because certain doubts and uncertainties plague even the best polygraph exams."  (Justice Clarence Thomas writing in United States v. Scheffer, 523 U.S. 303, 118 S.Ct. 1261, 140 L.Ed.2d 413, 1998.)
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Re: Simple experiment that polies will never do
Reply #8 - Feb 8th, 2009 at 11:39am
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pailryder wrote on Feb 7th, 2009 at 6:29pm:
Lethe

If one hundred applicants pass all background investigations and twenty of the one hundred then make additional disqualifying admissions because of polygraph, so that only eighty are hired, does that increase the quality of the hiring agency?

I think if that were the sum total of all data then one could certainly say that the polygraph successfully weeded out less-than-desirable applicants.

However, one would also have to take into account how many excellent applicants were disqualified despite not making any admissions, not witholding any information, and not being deceptive.

I have written on this board many times that if the polygraph were used soley in an attempt to elicit a disqualifying confession I don't think I'd have any issue with the polygraph.  When it is used to determine truth or deception is when it moves into the realm of junk science and that is also when its utility in pre-employment testing is worthless.
  

Lorsque vous utilisez un argumentum ad hominem, tout le monde sait que vous êtes intellectuellement faillite.
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Re: Simple experiment that polies will never do
Reply #9 - Feb 9th, 2009 at 1:41am
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IDEA ONE:

Employ old school moms/Catholic nuns (over the age of 60), and jewish grandmas (preferably from the Bronx)  to form security screening boards.  These people can spot honesty and dishonesty in young people (45 and below) effectively, accurately and, hopefully without too much face slapping!  And they won't need no polygraph machine.  A leather strap, paddle board or ruler would work fine.  And for those few who they casted false positive, at least they'd feel bad and knit you a nice sweater or bake you some cookies, rather than accusing you of working for al qaeda if you complain!

In fact, I'd use them to run the security screening programs for the entire federal government!  They're looking to be useful and would be happy to oblige.  Send them to GITMO while you're at it!  That really WOULD BE TORTURE!

IDEA TWO:

Conduct a one hour security interview with the applicant to form a list of concerns regarding security you have with applicant.

Then set up meeting with the applicant, applicant's mother or grandmother (whom ever is oldest and living), and the same security interviewer.  Inform them that it is doubtful you can approve they be hired because of the following security concerns.  Discuss for about an hour.  Of course you'll hear a lot of why "my little Jimmy could never have done this or that...etc from the mother.  That is to be expected so...

...escort the two to another room and have them wait while you "finish the paper work".  Of course the room will be bugged.  At that point you can be pretty sure the mother/grandma will then grill the applicant big time and will get at the "real truth" (whatever it is) right then and there.  And all of it will all be on tape for later analysis!

There is absolutely NO more intuitive and accurate "lie detector" than an elderly woman when it comes to judging her own children.  They invented "body language analysis"!

TC, St. Mary's High School, Class of 1971
« Last Edit: Feb 9th, 2009 at 2:07am by T.M. Cullen »  

"There is no direct and unequivocal connection between lying and these physiological states of arousal...(referring to polygraph)."

Dr. Phil Zimbardo, Phd, Standford University
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Re: Simple experiment that polies will never do
Reply #10 - Feb 12th, 2009 at 5:19am
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nopolycop wrote on Feb 7th, 2009 at 9:46pm:
Actually, a better research project would be to study the quality of law enforcement, (number of serious criminal charges brought against law enforcement personnel) for an entire state that does not polygraph, vs. an entire state that does.


That would produce interesting data, however I think there are too many variables.  It could well be the case that a small, racially homogeneous, northeastern state that is politically liberal, like Vermont, attracts a different sort of person to be a police officer than a large, racially and geographically diverse, politically conservative state, like Texas.  While the experiment you suggest would be interesting, I think more reliable data could be obtained by comparing apples to apples, instead of oranges.

Now, I am curious about yankeedog's comments.  He seems to say that there is no measurable way in which polygraphing applicants improves the quality of the resulting workforce.  He even admits that he was initially skeptical, but then when he started earning a paycheck by using the polygraph he saw the light in the wavy lines.   He now says that "it is an invaluable process that weeds out a remarkable number of verifiable and confirmed unqualified applicants." 

So, he says it weeds out unqualified people, but seems to imply that unqualified people make just as good police officers as unqualified ones, since there is no way in which a police force with few or no unqualified people differs from one with many unqualified people.

I think one problem in this discussion is that polygraphers and I have a different idea of what a qualified or proficient police force is.  It appears the poly's definition is simply "a workforce that has been polygraphed."  Or, maybe, "a workforce that has few or no members with factors that have been declared disqualifying."  However, I define a qualified police force, for purposes of this discussion, at least, as one that solves crimes, obeys the law, is efficient, protects the community, et cetera.  Police officers that smoked dope in adolescence might make worse police officers, but that should be demonstrable through actual evidence, if so.

I am proposing actual metrics that we can use to measure how effective the polygraph is in doing what you claim it can do.  All you are doing is trying to obfuscate the issue and contradicting yourselves over whether it actually does any good or not.

Anyway, how many polies here agree that a study, along the basic lines that I've suggested, should be done or--at the very least--looked into to see how easy and costly it would be to do?  Can I get a show of hands, of the internet forum equivalent thereof?  Polygraphers only, please.  Who thinks it's a good idea to base public policy that spends taxpayer money on sound data as opposed to mere speculation?  Anyone?
  

Is former APA President Skip Webb evil or just stupid?

Is former APA President Ed Gelb an idiot or does the polygraph just not work?

Did you know that polygrapher Sackett doesn't care about detecting deception to relevant questions?
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Re: Simple experiment that polies will never do
Reply #11 - Feb 18th, 2009 at 2:38am
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While it's scary that there is--as polygraphers themselves admit!--not a single shred of evidence--none at all!--that polygraph screening improves the workforce of law enforcement agencies, it is even scarrier that polygraphers don't care about this, and keep taking money and earning accolades for doing something that we have no reason to believe is helpful.

This has nothing to do with whether the polygraph can be beaten with countermeasures.  It likewise has nothing whatsoever to do with even whether or not the polygraph can detect lies.  It would be possible for it to not be able to detect lies and to be easily beaten but for the polygraph to still be useful and a good tool to employ. 

I think that most polygraphers think that.  They tell themselves "I don't care what those 'anties' say about how accurate it is or how easy it is to beat--I know for a fact, I know!, that it's useful and good!"  But, um, there's no evidence that that is true.  And such evidence could easily be obtained.  Why don't they want to get such evidence, which, if they're being honest with themselves, they must expect will enhance even further their standing in society and the prestige of their profession?  Answer: they're all evil sons of bitches.  And, yeah, they might (generally) be our sons of bitches, but they're still evil sons of goddammed bitches.

Get the data.  Prove me wrong.
  

Is former APA President Skip Webb evil or just stupid?

Is former APA President Ed Gelb an idiot or does the polygraph just not work?

Did you know that polygrapher Sackett doesn't care about detecting deception to relevant questions?
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