Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) "Ask a Polygraph Operator!" (Read 15629 times)
Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box Dan Mangan
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"Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Nov 24th, 2014 at 1:56am
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Do you have polygraph questions?  I have answers!

As a qualified polygraph examiner --i.e., a Backster School of Lie Detection graduate, full member of the American Polygraph Association, and certified PCSOT (Post Conviction Sex Offender Test) examiner -- I've been monitoring this site for about ten years.

From what I've seen, it's high time for an honest Q&A thread that's facilitated by someone who does not hide behind an avatar or a fake name.

If anyone has serious questions about the polygraph "testing" process, or the political-industrial polygraph landscape, please fire away.

Nothing along those lines is off the table.

While I am not a federal examiner, I have reliable connections to that part of the polygraph world. What I don't know, I can probably find out.

So, I'd be happy to answer your polygraph-related questions in this forum.

However, for anyone who is concerned about exposure, please feel free to contact me privately.

My contact info can be found on my web site, www.polygraphman.com.

I look forward to serving you.

Daniel Mangan, M.A.




« Last Edit: Nov 24th, 2014 at 2:28am by Dan Mangan »  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #1 - Dec 12th, 2014 at 2:23pm
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Dan,

Thank you for your willingness to discuss polygraph matters frankly and openly. Numerous of your colleagues in the polygraph community claim that they can detect the kinds of countermeasures described in The Lie Behind the Lie Detector. However, I have seen no evidence that would lend credence to such claims. Indeed, polygraph community training materials made available to AntiPolygraph.org present no coherent methodology for the detection of such countermeasures.

Thus I'd be interested in your thoughts on the polygraph community's claimed ability to detect countermeasures.
  

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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box Dan Mangan
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #2 - Dec 16th, 2014 at 4:50pm
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George, I'll speak for myself as a lowly civilian polygraph operator with only ten years of experience.

Test subjects who apply mental countermeasures in a heavy-handed manner are prone to exhibit signs of their efforts.

To illustrate my point, imagine instructing a five-year-old child who desperately wants a dog for Christmas to wish with all their might -- for a period of, say, 30 seconds -- that Santa will bring them a puppy.

Anyone with experience around kids -- especially parents -- is familiar with the child's likely response: eyes shut tight, mouth clamped shut, a perceptible tremor, sometimes a clenching of the fists, etc.

And so it often is with individuals engaging in mental CMs, albeit more subtle.

On top of that, the tricky test subject's "wish with all your might" demeanor comes and goes with the CQs, as the faker is also working at achieving tranquility/detachment during the RQs.

The difference can be noticeable.

So, while mental countermeasures may be the least detectable, they are not undetectable -- in my opinion.

Of course, the operator does not know for certain; mind reading is not part of this equation. But, in the post-test phase, when the suspected subject is shown the video replay of their own shifting demeanor and asked to explain the change, admissions of fakery are not uncommon.

Another wild card is luck. That is, luck of the draw when it comes to examiner competence. The wide variance of polygraph operator capability is shocking.

For years now, I have been calling for an ongoing countermeasure challenge series, integral to APA seminars, that would pit CM-prepped challengers against randomly chosen polygraph operators. In such a scenario, I predict that about half of the fakers would prevail.

So, in my view, the successful application of mental CMs requires, at a minimum, deep knowledge of the polygraph process, a very high degree of discipline, a facile and vivid imagination, and the ability to maintain a uniform "poker face" throughout the multiple data collection phases. Obviously, such an objective is more likely achieved with the benefit of coaching and practice.

As far as a coherent methodology to detect mental CMs is concerned, I am not aware of any. If such a thing exists, it is certainly not available to rank-and-file members of the APA. That said, my hunch is that stricter-than-ever QA protocols are employed on the federal level. Of course, that also results in more FP collateral damage -- hence more victimization.

  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #3 - Dec 16th, 2014 at 10:15pm
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Dan Mangan wrote on Dec 16th, 2014 at 4:50pm:
On top of that, the tricky test subject's "wish with all your might" demeanor comes and goes with the CQs, as the faker is also working at achieving tranquility/detachment during the RQs.

The difference can be noticeable.


The problem Dan, is that unless the examinee admits to using countermeasures, all you have is a hunch. You could be looking at an innocent person who is showing strong reactions to well formulated comparison questions. But, I agree with you that it does take someone with some poise and practice to properly execute the countermeasures. And someone with the right aptitude could vary the degree of intensity from chart to chart. The fear of such a skilled individual is surely the impetus behind the government's recent prosecutions.
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #4 - Dec 19th, 2014 at 7:36pm
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Dan:

With almost all polygraphers utilizing computerized polygraph machines, I wish to bring up the following issue.

The actual polygraph questions having to be constructed by the polygrapher, but with the existence of computer-synthesized speech and the availability of low-cost hardware and software to perform same, I am surprised that all polygraphers (certainly the last one I took in 2000) continue to employ human speech, considering that personal biases, tone of voice, inflexions, sarcasm, etc. can influence the result.  I attribute the wide variance of polygraph results to the human voice.

I would like your thoughts on this subject.

Regards,
Evan S
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #5 - Dec 20th, 2014 at 1:41am
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Evan,

Although what you suggest is a good idea and may be a necessary criterion for a good "in-test" phase of examination, it is hardly sufficient for a well constructed test seeking to differentiate between examinee truths and falsehood. 

The in-test phase of a lie detection test is preceded by perhaps 30 to 45 minutes of unscripted free wheeling pre-test, in which, amongst other things, a variety of lies and misrepresentations are made regarding the question types which will be asked during the in-test phase of examination.  The impact of these lies and misrepresentations affect all that follows and would not be undone by the mere unbiased computerized verbalization of questions during the in-test phase.

Another type of examination, a concealed information test or guilty knowledge test (well beyond the scope of your question), could be fully scripted and presented as you have suggested.  Additionally it is amenable to meaningful statistical analysis not appropriate for lie detection tests.
  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box Dan Mangan
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #6 - Dec 20th, 2014 at 2:58pm
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In addition to what Drew Richardson said, I offer the following...

1. The quality of synthesized speech has been lacking. It might be better now, but for years it was criticized by some members of the polygraph community as not being natural sounding enough. A legitimate criticism is that the artificial sound of the computerized voice was more of a distraction than anything else.

2. The polygraph "test" process is largely about power and control. Polygraph operators, in my opinion, are loathe to forfeit much in the way of flexibility when it comes to how they choose to conduct an exam.

3. Generally speaking, the polygraph community is likely to resist anything that would set the stage for full automation and the elimination of the polygraph operator. One exception, though, is automated scoring, which has caught on like wildfire. Why? When deception is indicated, the whiz-bang computerized readout makes for a convincing prop from which the operator can more easily launch into a post-test interrogation.
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #7 - Dec 23rd, 2014 at 7:59pm
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Evan,

In my last reply to you I mentioned concealed information testing.  The following link will take you to a recent publication dealing with the use of the central nervous system in a concealed information paradigm to assess group association.  Although they were not, these series of examinations could've been performed/presented as you suggested… Regards...

http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fnins.2014.00410/abstract
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #8 - Dec 27th, 2014 at 10:46pm
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I have a question for you.

I have been polygraphed twice, both full scope lifestyle polys for law enforcement.  Part of a pre-screening process.  I passed the first one although the screener said "your breathing sucks," whatever that means.  The second one I failed because the examiner concluded that I was lying about my sexual history and drug use.  I was outraged because I told the truth, am an honest person, and had nothing to hide.  Despite the fact that my sexual history is difficult to talk about with a complete stranger with authority over me, but whatever.

As a result, I started investigating the polygraph to learn more about why someone who was completely honest might fail.  I learned a lot.

So, here's the question.  If ever I get polygraphed again, what do I tell the examiner?

My gut reaction is to simply say that I know about the polygraph.  I've been polygraphed twice and failed once despite being honest.  I've read the Lie Behind the Lie Detector, the NAS report on the scientific validity of the polygraph, Doug Williams' book "How to Sting the Polygraph," as well as the DOD and DOJ polygraph manuals.  I know about the "calibration" test they do at the beginning.  I know that the "control" questions are really irrelevant and that the other questions are a mix of relevant and actual control questions.  I know that the polygraph is not admissible in court except in certain circumstances.  I know that the use of the "butt pad" is a tantamount admission that squeezing your sphincter produces results.  I also know that the Chinese and the Russians-- themselves no slouches in the intelligence field-- don't use it because they think it's bunk.

I would then tell the polygraph operator that I am being completely honest in order to clear things out of the way and that I have no intention of attempting any kind of countermeasures, and want to pass the test the "legit" way.  Not being aggressive or combative, but showing what I know and trying to be honest.

How do you think he would respond?

Thanks.
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #9 - Dec 27th, 2014 at 10:58pm
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And also, would the polygraph still "work?"  I mean, I know when you ask me if the lights are on in the room it's irrelevant, when you ask me if I've ever lied to someone in authority it's a control, and if I've ever had sexual contact with a minor, it's relevant.  Even if I'm not trying to engage in countermeasures, there's nothing I can do to NOT think about those questions and their relative importances.  Thanks!
  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box Dan Mangan
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #10 - Dec 28th, 2014 at 1:28am
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In my estimation, telling the polygraph operator everything as described in your second most recent post will reduce your chances of success from roughly 50% to about 15%.

I cannot speak to responses from individual LE polygraph operators I've never met, but I'm inclined to think that, after making your polygraph knowledge disclosure --  including your impressive reading list -- you may hear something like this:

"I'm very glad you told me that, Mr. Dough. I understand your concerns. Trust me, you'll be in the best of hands. Now just relax and follow my instructions."

In answer to your latest question... Yes, from what I've seen, the polygraph still "works" -- at least it does in most cases when there's something substantial at stake -- even though the test subject knows about polygraph theory and procedure.

  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #11 - Dec 28th, 2014 at 4:04am
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So the alternative is to just lie and say that I don't know much about the polygraph?  Why would it reduce my chances of passing if I'm being honest?
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #12 - Dec 28th, 2014 at 4:09am
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But thank you for confirming what I've suspected and read about all along: the polygraph is biased against people who have naturally guilty consciences and produce a false positive, even if they are being completely honest.
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #13 - Dec 28th, 2014 at 4:56am
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Quote:
Why would it reduce my chances of passing if I'm being honest? 


It's the human animal. If it were left to a computer, then it would not be so. Years ago, in an effort to show a long time girlfriend that I would be honest with her, I admitted to having sexual relations with someone she knew. Instead of being embraced as a "new-age-honest-in-relationships" man, I was cast aside like a pair of old worn out shoes--"a man of few words is often wisest."
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #14 - Dec 31st, 2014 at 2:49am
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Dan Mangan wrote on Dec 16th, 2014 at 4:50pm:
Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #2 - Dec 16th, 2014 at 11:50am  George, I'll speak for myself as a lowly civilian polygraph operator with only ten years of experience.

Test subjects who apply mental countermeasures in a heavy-handed manner are prone to exhibit signs of their efforts.

To illustrate my point, imagine instructing a five-year-old child who desperately wants a dog for Christmas to wish with all their might -- for a period of, say, 30 seconds -- that Santa will bring them a puppy.

Anyone with experience around kids -- especially parents -- is familiar with the child's likely response: eyes shut tight, mouth clamped shut, a perceptible tremor, sometimes a clenching of the fists, etc.

And so it often is with individuals engaging in mental CMs, albeit more subtle.

On top of that, the tricky test subject's "wish with all your might" demeanor comes and goes with the CQs, as the faker is also working at achieving tranquility/detachment during the RQs.

The difference can be noticeable.

...when u say the difference can be noticeable, do u mean on the chart or only their demeanor?
  
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