Normal Topic Biased examiner? (Read 4364 times)
Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box Feeling duped.
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Biased examiner?
Feb 15th, 2001 at 9:33am
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Hello everyone.  I need an experts opinion, if there are any here.  My problem is not with a work issued polygraph, but with one done in the private sector.  To be exact, to check for infidelity on my husband's part.

Once at the examiner's office, I spent about 30 minutes discussing my husband's past transgressions and explaining my husband's personality, background, etc.  The examiner commented that my husband was a "spoiled little rich kid", and that even if he passed, I had an uphill battle with him.  It was quite strange how many personal opinions he threw into our conversation. He mentioned how the chances of me knowing everything that my husband did before (past transgressions) were basically nil.  He was pretty much berating the hell out of him. 

I know I'm rambling, but please bear with me.

I asked him about nervousness and how it could effect the test, considering there was a lot riding on he test, namely my husband losing me and our two young sons. One important factor of my husband is that he is very, very shy.  He still, at the age of 36, gets nervous speaking to strangers. (I'm not looking to vindicate him, just trying to give you the pertinent facts of the entire experience).  At any rate, he assured me that his nervousness, nor anxiety about losing his family over the "relevant" questions would in any way mess up the results, hence no false positive.  He even said they were impossible.   

Prior to the exam, I had told my husband which questions I wanted answers to, so he knew ahead of time what they'd be.   

After the exam, the examiner called me into his office to go over the results.  My husband and I were a bit dismayed at just how jovial he seemed to be to have caught my husband lying.  Anyhow, the first two tests were nothing but a bunch of squiggly lines.  The examiner did admit that this was due to his nervousness.  There was no discernible difference between "relevant", "irrelevant" and "control" questions.  Just a garbled mess.  Apparently, by the third test my husband had calmed down considerably and the examiner was able to get readings on the "relevant" questions.  The three questions used did indeed show a marked increase in heartrate, etc.  He also showed me where he did the stim test and the results of that.  The "relevant" question results were higher.   

Anyhow, to get to my point.  Since I had been doing a lot of reading lately about polygraphs, I knew about the different types of questions and their relevance.  So, when looking at the results, I kept asking him where the control (the probable lie ones) questions were, because I know that they use that as a measure against the relevant questions.  He told me not to believe everything that I read on the internet, and that those control questions were not used for that purpose.   

The "probable lie" control question was related to whether my husband had anymore lies hidden from me in the past 4 years.  I didn't find this out till much later in the day.  As a matter of fact, other than asking about the control questions locations on the chart at his office, I blocked out the test the rest of the day due to anger and sadness.  Once I had calmed down and found out what the probable lie control question was, I realized, and my husband mentioned it first, there was not a single jump in activity on the chart when asked this question.  He was asked it between the relevant questions.  The only jumps were the three relevant questions and the stim test.  But, the three times he asked if he's lied to me, there was no jump.  So, now I'm thinking that had he failed questions about cheating, then he most assuredly would have failed that probable lie control question since it was basically related. (boy I hope I'm making since, I have a newborn and haven't slept much lately).  Anyhow, now I realize why the man wouldn't point out where those control questions were.  After my husband left the office in sadness and I stayed, the examiner continued to berate my husband's character.  Mentioning the spoiled rich kid bit again, saying how he was definitely still being "smooth" with the ladies, etc.  He was quite elated with himself over the results.  Highly unprofessional.

If this has made sense to anyone, can someone please help me understand why there was no jump during the probable lie control questions.  I can definitely imagine the anxiety involved in being asked the relevant questions, as my husband knew those were the most important.  But, if he was still cheating, he definitely would have had activity during that control question.   So, I am CONFUSED AS HELL NOW!!!  I'd love someone's opinion on this matter, PLEASE!!!  Before I drive myself crazy! 

So, to finalize my ramblings, how could this man judge the "lying" based on only the stim test, when my husband passed the probable lie control questions (which basically were relevant considering they dealt with lying, the only difference being that my husband was mulling over the relevant questions days prior to the test, hence the possible nervousness on the relevant questions, but when not nervous about a question that I hadn't previously given to him, passed the control question about lying).  That makes no sense to me.  You'd think the probable lie control question would illicite a stronger response than the direct lie stim test.  And since he must have been telling the truth about not lying, how could he fail the other questions?  UGH!  It's so perplexing!  Does it look like it's possible that nervousness caused him to fail the relevant questions?

Again, this man seemed very pleased with the results.  It was truly unprofessional how he acted after the fact.  He was definitely elated.  Also, remember that he would not show me where on the test the probably lie (about whether my husband has lied to me) control questions were.  Of course now that I know they were located between every relevant question, I know there were absolutely no other peaks on the graph than during those three relevant questions. 

I do apologize for probably confusing the heck out of all of you.  Due to the sensitive matter of the subject, it's got my emotions going in every which direction.  Feel free to ask questions in order to clarify anything.

Opinions please!!!

If you've made it this far, thanks. Smiley
  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George Maschke (Guest)
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Re: Biased examiner?
Reply #1 - Feb 15th, 2001 at 12:22pm
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Feeling duped,

The answers to your questions regarding your husband's fidelity are no more to be found in polygraph chart readings than in astrological chart readings. The "control" question "test" is not a valid psychometric test. See Chapter 1 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector and the sources cited there.

Comments:

Quote:
At any rate, he [your husband] assured me that [neither] his nervousness, nor anxiety about losing his family over the "relevant" questions would in any way mess up the results, hence no false positive. He even said they were impossible.


That your husband could make this assurance to you suggests that he did not understand the trickery and dubious set of assumptions on which polygraph "tests" depend.

You wrote regarding the polygrapher whose services you hired:

Quote:
Since I had been doing a lot of reading lately about polygraphs, I knew about the different types of questions and their relevance. So, when looking at the results, I kept asking him where the control (the probable lie ones) questions were, because I know that they use that as a measure against the relevant questions. He told me not to believe everything that I read on the internet, and that those control questions were not used for that purpose.


Your polygrapher lied to you about the "control" questions not being used for comparison purposes vis-a-vis the relevant questions. His vague admonition "don't believe everything you read on the internet" doesn't really shed any light, does it? You'll find "control" questions explained at length in Chapter 3 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector. You may wish to refer your polygrapher to this book, and ask him specifically what about it is untrue. (This, by the way, is an open challenge to all polygraph advocates: if there is anything in The Lie Behind the Lie Detector that you believe is untrue, post a message to this board for the benefit of all. Your posts will not be deleted or censored.)

You asked:

Quote:
Does it look like it's possible that nervousness caused him to fail the relevant questions?


Absolutely. The polygraph only measures physiological responses. There is no way of knowing what caused the response: for example, it could have been fear of being caught in a lie, or it could have been fear of not being believed and the attendant consequences, or it could have been anger at being asked this accusatory question. In the words of veteran polygrapher Leonard H. Harrelson (Lietest: Deception, Truth, and the Polygraph, 1998, p. 158 ):

Quote:
Polygrams [i.e., polygraph charts] are polygrams. They measure and record physiological reactions. And they do so very well, but one cannot look at a polygram and say, "That is a lie." It may be a reaction, but no one can say that it is a lie. An examiner may interpret a reaction to be a lie, but in actual practice, the examiner also is observing the subject, listening to verbal explanations, and making a judgment about the person's truthfulness. Some examiners are simply better than others.

Because of their experience in talking with people and their success in obtaining confessions, polygraph examiners may come to feel very confidant [sic] about making a determination of truth or deception based on their charts. Indeed, if a person is reacting, it is the examiner's job to determine why and to obtain a confession if they believe that deception is the cause of the reactions. But without a confession, polygrams are still just polygrams.


I agree with you that your polygrapher's joviality seems unprofessional. More unprofessional, in my opinion, is the fact that he lied to you about the purpose of probable-lie "control" questions. But polygraphy is a strange profession.

Last modification: George Maschke - 02/15/01 at 04:22:01
  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box Jane Doe III
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Re: Biased examiner?
Reply #2 - Feb 15th, 2001 at 7:42pm
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Why in the hell would you let your husband take a polygraph examination after you had obviously done some research on the subject. Don't you know that there is no scientific relevance on those readings reguarding "truth or lie". Read all of the innocent victims statements on this web site and at www.nopolygraph.com . Unless it was ordered by a court, you should've told who ever it was that recommended this examination to go take a hike. Go see a gypsy fortune teller if you want more accurate results! This whole polygraph industry is nothing more that a bunch of snake oil salesman hucksters, they can't be trusted no further than you can pick them up and throw them. I should know, I am victim #(who knows?)
  
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