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Normal Topic Credibility Assessment Standardized Evaluation (CASE) Prize Challenge (Read 103 times)
George W. Maschke
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Credibility Assessment Standardized Evaluation (CASE) Prize Challenge
Jul 7th, 2018 at 12:24pm
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On 5 July 2018, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) posted a notice about a "Credibility Assessment Standardized Evaluation (CASE) Prize Challenge" to encourage innovation in "credibility assessment" (the latest buzzword for "lie detection," which has fallen out of favor):

Interestingly, there is no indication that the federal polygraph school, the National Center for Credibility Assessment, is involved in this project.

The CASE Prize Challenge announcement (attached to this post) includes some implicit acknowledgement of the shortcomings of polygraphy:


Knowing when someone is telling the truth plays a critical role in law enforcement and national security events, to include criminal investigations, screening new employees before hiring, and interviewing potential sources and witnesses. The polygraph is one tool that members of the Intelligence Community (IC) and law enforcement look to for help, but there is a long-standing debate among researchers and polygraph practitioners about the accuracy and reliability of this tool. How can we evaluate how good the polygraph is, and how much better new tools may be? The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), intends to launch the Credibility Assessment Standardized Evaluation (CASE) Challenge to address this critical question.

In reality, the debate over the accuracy and reliability of polygraphy is long over. Polygraphy is a thoroughly discredited pseudoscience.

Nearly a century after John A. Larson's construction of the first polygraph instrument, the field of polygraphy has contributed nothing to our scientific understanding of deception in humans. It is a research dead end.

The announcement continues:

The goal of the CASE challenge is to develop novel procedures to evaluate the accuracy, reliability, and utility of current and future credibility assessment techniques and technologies, such as the polygraph. Credibility refers to the truthfulness of information and/or to the person providing that information. Assessments of credibility are often complex and may involve an evaluation of many factors of a person and/or their information, to include, but not limited to, veracity, trustworthiness, motivation, and considerations about what may be withheld or concealed. To evaluate the credibility of an individual and/or their information the IC and law enforcement often use human judgment and complement this with additional techniques and technologies, such as specific interviewing techniques or devices, like the polygraph, to record behavioral or physiological responses when someone responds to a question.

A simple way of testing the accuracy, reliability, and utility of polygraph screening was suggested by an anonymous contributor to The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (at pp. 37-38 of the 4th edition). IARPA should try it. It won't cost a lot of money. Perhaps that's a problem. The predictable result might also be a problem:

There is a scientific way to detect whether or not the polygraph might have possibly caught Aldrich Ames. Take the records of the 100 polygraph interrogations that preceded Ames', and the 100 interrogations that followed Ames'. Remove any identifying information from the polygraph charts. Give these charts, along with Ames' chart, to a panel of the best polygraphers. See if they can pick out the one spy from the 200 polygraph charts.

This experiment could be repeated with the polygraph charts before and after those of FBI spy Leandro Aragoncillo and DIA spy Ana Belen Montes, who, like Aldrich Ames, beat the polygraph.

Unfortunately, this experiment cannot be done with the polygraph charts of any spies who were caught by the polygraph, because there doesn't seem to be any.

The announcement does acknowledge the lack of progress in the field of polygraphy, noting "The polygraph test remains the standard for using technology-assisted assessments of credibility, despite having undergone only modest improvements over roughly the last fifty years."

The announcement also includes a link at which you can register for a Participant's Day video conference to be held on Tuesday, 31 July 2018 at 13:00 hrs EDT. Registration closes on 30 July 2018 at 17:00 hrs EDT:


George W. Maschke
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