Normal Topic Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5) (Read 46034 times)
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Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5)
Jul 17th, 2009 at 3:30pm
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"Lie detectors are bullshit!"


On Thursday, 23 July, Showtime aired an episode of the Emmy Award-winning series Penn & Teller Bullshit! dedicated to the bullshit of lie detectors. As a long-time fan of the show, and I was delighted when I was contacted by the show's producers late last year to talk about polygraphs. A film crew came to my home for an interview. I'm very pleased with the way the episode turned out. While there is much more that could have been said about polygraphy, I think the show did a fine job of debunking polygraphy in an entertaining fashion. Here are some highlights from the episode:


"Supposedly, lie detectors are both accurate and humane, and used properly, very sexy!"


No explanation was provided for why the woman strapped to the lie detector in this vignette is dressed in a Wonder Woman outfit with bondage fetish paraphernalia. It's an allusion to the fact that the creator of the lie detector, William Moulton Marston, also created the comic book charater Wonder Woman, whose magic lasso compels those encoiled by it to speak nothing but the truth. Marston, who lived in a ménage à trois with his wife and mistress, was fascinated by sado-masochistic sorority hazing rituals. It's worth noting that the FBI considered Marston to  be a phony and a crackpot.


Mike and Chrissy


The episode's central storyline follows the saga of Mike and Chrissy. Mike has proposed marriage to Chrissy, but she has doubts over his fidelity to her. She wants him to take a polygraph test before she'll agree to marry him.


Polygraph operator Larry Dipaolo


The polygraph examination is conducted in the office of polygrapher Larry Dipaolo. Mike fails, and Dipaolo proceeds to spin minor admissions into a full-fledged confession to "inappropriate sexual conduct."


Doug Williams


Former police polygrapher Doug Williams explains that the polygraph is not a lie detector, that it is based on a faulty premise, and talks at length about the ruses that polygraphers use to interrogate suspects.


AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke


I'm introduced as an example of a person who has suffered career harm as a result of governmental reliance on polygraphy.



I discuss my experience with the FBI polygraph. For more about that experience, see my statement, "Too Hot of a Potato: A Citizen-Soldier's Encounter With the Polygraph."


Alan P. Zelicoff, M.D.


Dr. Alan Zelicoff, who headed a research review (125 kb PDF) by senior scientists at Sandia National Laboratories, spoke about the scientific shortcomings of polygraphy.



Dr. Zelicoff explains that the polygraph is not only a worthless tool, but that it might be worse than worthless, because it tends to misclassify truth-tellers as liars. Nonetheless, the U.S. government has ignored the science on lie detectors and continues to force employees to submit to polygraph screening.


Aldrich Ames and Gary Ridgway passed the polygraph.


Penn & Teller cite Soviet spy Aldrich Hazen Ames and serial killer Gary Leon Ridgway (A.K.A. "The Green River Killer") as prominent examples of liars who fooled the polygraph. But you don't have to be a sociopath to beat the lie detector.


Doug Williams explains how to produce reactions at will.


Doug Williams explains how to artificially produce reactions by constricting one's anal sphincter muscle and trains a volunteer how to fool a peak of tension test. In what is for me the most memorable line of the show he quips: "A polygraph examiner is nothing but an asshole with a little training. In order to beat this asshole with a little training, your asshole's got to have a little training."

The show does not go into the intricacies of the polygraph "control question test" or CQT (the most commonly used polygraph procedure). An understanding of such procedure is critical for successful use of polygraph countermeasures, which may not only be used by liars trying to fool the polygraph, but also by truthful persons who want to protect themselves against the risk of a false positive outcome. For more on polygraph validity (or lack thereof), policy, procedure, and countermeasures (including a discussion of techniques that may be preferable to the anal sphincter contraction), see AntiPolygraph.org's free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (1 mb PDF).
« Last Edit: Jul 25th, 2009 at 7:30am by George W. Maschke »  

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Re: Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5)
Reply #1 - Jul 17th, 2009 at 7:04pm
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I'd like to see the legal waiver polygraphic relationship counselors make couple sign before they collect the $500 for performing this crap.  I'll bet it doesn't say the test is 98% accurate.

I think the money would be better spent on hiring a PI to snoop around.

  

"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: Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5)
Reply #2 - Jul 21st, 2009 at 2:05am
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Teller tweets:

Quote:
This Thursday on BS, we show you how to use the muscle that fools Lie Detectors. I'm doing it now. You think I'm lying?
  

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Re: Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5)
Reply #3 - Jul 22nd, 2009 at 6:30pm
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Penn Jillette tweets:

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P&T:Bullshit! 10PM Thursday, Showtime -- It's "Lie Detectors." This will amaze AND teach you how to beat a polygraph with your asshole.
  

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Re: Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5)
Reply #4 - Jul 23rd, 2009 at 9:59am
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Teller tweets:

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Lie detectors, strippers, toddlers, and caviar tonight on BS!
  

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Re: Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5)
Reply #5 - Jul 24th, 2009 at 4:28am
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George,

Its been way too long ... but I must admit that the show with Penn & Teller was most entertaining, if not the most tell tale on how much the BS the polygraph really is.

P.S.   

Busting LBCB was also a very entertaining moment.
the website speaks for itself. I should send him a postcard.

Time for me to depart again for a while. Peace

Best Regards

EosJupiter
  

Theory into Reality !!
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Re: Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5)
Reply #6 - Jul 25th, 2009 at 7:35am
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EosJupiter,

I'm glad you liked the show! I also found it entertaining. While there is more that I would have liked to have seen included, I think they did an excellent job of debunking polygraphy, and I hope this episode reaches a wide audience.

For those who may have missed it, it will be re-broadcast several times throughout the week.
  

George W. Maschke
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Re: Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5)
Reply #7 - Jul 26th, 2009 at 3:42am
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A most excellent show by Penn and Teller. Congratulations to you George on helping spread the word so that everyone will truly realize that the polygraphy is nonsense.

Dr. Zelicoff's quote "that it might be worse than worthless, because it tends to misclassify truth-tellers as liars, is dead on accurate. Doug Williams also was very impressive.

One thing though, Did they offer any member of the APA an opportunity to be on the show?


Keep up the outstanding work George.

Fred F.  Wink

P.S. Did Chrissy really dump Mike over the conjured up "confession" of his bachelor party?
  
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Re: Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5)
Reply #8 - Jul 29th, 2009 at 6:08am
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The Penn & Teller: Bullshit! lie detector episode is currently available for viewing on YouTube. I'm not sure how long this will remain available, as it likely violates YouTube's terms of service, but for the moment, the episode may be watched here (in three parts):





  

George W. Maschke
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Re: Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5)
Reply #9 - Jul 29th, 2009 at 8:43am
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Anyone asked by a partner to take a polygraph to prove fidelity should watch that episode PRIOR taking the test to see what "bullshit" it really is.  Then, when taking the polygraph, repeatedly question the so-called examiner on everything he says. 

Simply do not admit to anything, no matter how inconsequential you might think it is (because the polygrapher will blow it up like a balloon).  If the polygrapher claims or even insinuates that the machine is indicating you are not being completely truthful, tell him you don't think that is the case, and make him explain why that is so.  Question, question, question.  Accept nothing the examiner says as a "given".  Turn the interrogation into a debate over his/her claims about their little machine.

Of course, that will really piss them off.  So be it.  But in the end, they will have NO admissions, just questionable chart scribblings. 

TC

P.S.  I'll bet many partners who watch that episode will end up with some "sense" talked into them and no longer want the other person to take the polygraph.  At any rate, they will think differently about the topic after watching the program.
  

"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: Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5)
Reply #10 - Jul 31st, 2009 at 3:04am
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That was quite the show.  Pretty much tells it like it is.
  
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Re: Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5)
Reply #11 - Feb 9th, 2014 at 9:32am
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The Penn & Teller Bullshit! episode on lie detectors has been "officially" posted to YouTube (along with all episodes of the show) and may be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0r8lx2vDWB4
  

George W. Maschke
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Re: Penn & Teller Bullshit! Lie Detector Episode (Season 7, Episode 5)
Reply #12 - Feb 12th, 2014 at 6:12pm
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Penn Jillette may appear crude and profane but IMHO "Mystical Spirograph" elevates him to world class poet.
  
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