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Countermeasure considerations for the innocent (Read 18431 times)
Paste User Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Polygraph Surprise
Reply #15 - May 8th, 2001 at 8:39am
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...if this is done using some of the luminaries in the polygraph field, those who wish to bring up the oft heard "you just ran into a bad/inexperienced examiner" will need themselves a new argument.


Suitable marks for such a polygraph countermeasures sting operation would include past and current presidents, directors, and officers of the American Polygraph Association, the American Association of Police Polygraphists, and the National Polygraph Association.

Grin
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Re: Countermeasure considerations for the innocent
Reply #16 - May 8th, 2001 at 9:26am
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Anonymous (5/5, 6:14:50) wrote: 

Quote:
A substantial percentage of those who contribute to this message board (including those who manage the antipolygraph.org web site) are individuals whose initial experience with polygraphy was not in the role of a polygraph critic or as an advocate of the use of polygraph countermeasures.  They simply began as innocent examinees who trusted their federal government and its tools for applicant evaluation.  Only after having found themselves VICTIMIZED THROUGH POLYGRAPHY (having done precisely what you suggest), did they then wish that they knew then (before the polygraph exam) what they now know regarding this pseudoscience. It is with this experience in mind that they now with unwavering purpose and clear conscience make the information and advice available that you openly question and most assuredly privately fear.


I’m well aware of the effect of false positives, and the victims have my deepest sympathy.  We humans live in an imperfect world, doing the best we can with what is available.  Without wishing to trivialize the experience of those who have suffered polygraph false positives, I must point out that no diagnostic test is perfectly accurate.  Some errors have more grievous effects than others.  Errors in the medical system have given rise to the saying “doctors bury their mistakes.”

Quote:
… there is every reason to believe that both innocent and guilty examinees who make no admissions regarding the use of countermeasures will likewise be successful in their efforts to employ them.  If this is not true, i.e., polygraph counter-countermeasures are not simply a bluff requiring an admission on the part of an examinee and can only be perpetrated with a cloak of secrecy, please explain.


You seem to be suggesting that nobody who keeps mum about using countermeasures will ever “fail” the polygraph.  That is simply not true.  Although each agency has considerable latitude in developing its own policies, those whose policies I am aware of allow examiners to report suspected countermeasures as such.  When handled and verified according to the guidelines of those agencies, they are reported to the adjudicators and are grounds for denial of employment for the reasons I stated in my original post in this thread.

Quote:
Furthermore, if polygraph counter-countermeasures are truly effectively in place, you should be able to describe how they work in such a manner as to convince this audience that (1) this is how they (counter-countermeasures) reliably work, (2) this is how we can unquestionably demonstrate them (responses to countermeasures) not to be reflective of normal physiological response (independent of an examinee making such an admission), and (3) there is no way that they (examinees) can foil polygraphers by simply being aware of  these counter-countermeasures and thereby force a non-deceptive result.


Surely you jest!  Countermeasures and counter-countermeasures are a high stakes battle which directly impacts the criminal justice system and national security.  Those who teach people how to beat the polygraph and those whose job is to detect and prevent that, are in an adversarial relationship.  Both sides are learning how to be more effective.  If I detail how we are detecting countermeasures (i.e., the mistakes the advisors are making), that would boost you considerably higher along your learning curve, hurting the criminal justice system and national security.  With time, experience, and feedback, countermeasure advisors will improve their advice.  In the meantime, the federal polygraph community needs the time to develop long range solutions to the countermeasure problem by developing a more robust test using, say, brain imaging.

Peace
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Re: Countermeasure considerations for the innocent
Reply #17 - May 8th, 2001 at 10:36am
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Gordon,

I take it from your non-responsive reply to Anonymous regarding polygraph counter-countermeasures that you won't be replying (at least not responsively) to the following question I put to you:

  • Absent an admission from the subject that he/she used countermeasures, how can a polygraph examiner "confirm" that any of the various countermeasures described in The Lie Behind the Lie Detector were employed?


If such is the case, then you leave truthful persons who face a polygraph interrogation to compare the well-documented information provided in The Lie Behind the Lie Detector with your vague and unsupported warnings about the abilities of polygraphers to detect countermeasures. Why should those truthful persons you are trying to reach believe you?

I hope you will yet provide an answer to the other question I put to you:

  • What would you say to the earnest employee or applicant for employment who wants a straightforward answer to this simple question: what will the polygrapher do if I admit to him/her that I understand "the lie behind the lie detector" (i.e., the trickery on which polygraph "testing" depends)?


Those whom you urge not to employ countermeasures deserve an answer.
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Re: Countermeasure considerations for the innocent
Reply #18 - May 8th, 2001 at 11:05am
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Gordon,

You mention that ...."Errors in the medical system have given rise to the saying "doctors bury their mistakes"........"  These doctors, when shown in a court of law to have done so, are subject to multi-million dollar damage awards/assessments against them.  We are all aware of routine reports of such awards.   You, "....having the deepest sympathy...." for these victims, I assume would approve of similar civil liability for federal polygraph examiners (and others) who have ruined the careers and lives of applicants and employees through polygraph screening, yes?? Smiley
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Re: Countermeasure considerations for the innocent
Reply #19 - May 8th, 2001 at 12:06pm
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Gordon,

Should you care to FULLY respond to my previous three posts and the other unfinished business (others' unanswered questions) before you, I thought I'd add just another thought or two for your commentary. In your next to last posted response (5/5/01 largely addressed to George Maschke, although not answering his questions), you raise the notion of examinee dissociation (by starring at a spot on a wall). Although you correctly characterize this as something that would not work, via the sin of omission, you may well give the wrong impression to the readers of this site. You know well that this would never have any theoretical possibility of working, but yet, by implication, suggest that this is just one more countermeasure tried and failed by the antipolygraph crowd. In fact, as you well know, such an effort would come under the category of trying to prevent a response (presumably to relevant questions). You further know that even those few (Buddhist monks, etc.) who can reliably manipulate the output of their own autonomic nervous system (heart rate, etc.) cannot do so within the time frame of a polygraph exam (questions being asked, separated in time by 15-20 seconds). Because you know that this clearly would not work and confuse it with meaningful activity to produce (not inhibit) reactions to control questions, one has to wonder if this is not intentional disinformation, simply a straw man, and/or a red herring to mislead those who would apply countermeasures down a wrong trail to begin with and secondarily suggesting that they will be caught if they do such a thing. If not, I fail to understand why you did not explain what, no doubt, is obvious to you.

But getting back to that which is meaningful, on the home page of this web site is an item entitled DoDPI Test Data Analysis. Within that document are the specific scoring criteria DoDPI uses for scoring the individual polygraph channels. Why would you have this audience believe that it would not be relatively simple to learn how to produce these responses within a timely manner (independent of which of several possible mid-line physical or mental countermeasure methods is employed) to control questions? The notion you raise of a separate system of scoring criteria for countermeasures is quite dubious. Examiners don't really know how to use the original scoring system in a particularly effective manner. The notion of another system on top of or in replacement appears to be nonsensical and again, in any real meaningful application, little more than a bluff.
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Re: Countermeasure considerations for the innocent
Reply #20 - May 8th, 2001 at 12:14pm
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George Maschke wrote:

Quote:
Absent an admission from the subject that he/she used countermeasures, how can a polygraph examiner "confirm" that any of the various countermeasures described in The Lie Behind the Lie Detector were employed?

There may be a problem with semantics here.  I did not mean confirm in the sense of absolute ground truth.  That is extremely difficult to do in any real world situation.  Therein lies the big advantage of laboratory research, where we made our initial breakthroughs in detecting mid- and high level countermeasures.  What I did mean was confirm to the satisfaction of the individual agency.  The steps that must be accomplished to reach that level of confirmation vary from one agency to another.  The key point is that in the Federal government, most examiners do not make such a decision arbitrarily.  They must follow their agency’s guidelines, which may require concurrence from their quality control office.

Quote:
What would you say to the earnest employee or applicant for employment who wants a straightforward answer to this simple question: what will the polygrapher do if I admit to him/her that I understand "the lie behind the lie detector" (i.e., the trickery on which polygraph "testing" depends)?


This approach is so new the field has not developed any uniform response, not in the federal community and certainly not in the police and private arenas.  The only research bearing on this has been done by Honts and his colleagues.  They have published a couple of studies which found, among other things, that subjects who are aware of the purpose of control/comparison questions are at greater risk of a false positive error.  This is another down side to making polygraph information available to the public.  In their understandable desire to help innocent people avoid false positive errors, the authors may be inadvertently increasing the risk for some people.

As for how I would deal with the situation, I would have no qualms about conducting an examination.  My personal outlook is “when in doubt, give it a try and see what happens.”  I would go into the situation with my eyes open, aware of the pitfalls, and make sure that the person receiving my report was also aware of the need for caution in relying upon the results.  When I was an examiner in private practice, I tested several polygraph examiners on real world matters.  The only thing I did differently from testing a naïve subject was to use a relevant/irrelevant (RI) test format, which is less susceptible to point countermeasures.  The RI test is far more sophisticated in design and interpretation than most critics give it credit for.  To be used successfully, I believe it requires formal training followed by an internship under experienced practitioners, so this option is not realistic for many examiners.

Peace
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Re: Countermeasure considerations for the innocent
Reply #21 - May 8th, 2001 at 12:17pm
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So many questions, so little time!

The reason I retired was to free up my time to pursue other interests and pleasures.  I am deliberately limiting the time I spend on polygraph matters.  I will get to all of your questions in time; typically one post per day.  See you tomorrow!

Peace
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A Quick Question on Terminology
Reply #22 - May 8th, 2001 at 12:38pm
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Gordon,

In this message thread, you've referred to three categories of polygraph countermeasures: low-level, mid-level, and high-level. Could you explain the distinction between the three?
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Re: Countermeasure considerations for the innocent
Reply #23 - May 8th, 2001 at 2:15pm
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Gordon Barland wrote:

Quote:
There may be a problem with semantics here. I did not mean confirm in the sense of absolute ground truth. That is extremely difficult to do in any real world situation. Therein lies the big advantage of laboratory research, where we made our initial breakthroughs in detecting mid- and high level countermeasures. What I did mean was confirm to the satisfaction of the individual agency. The steps that must be accomplished to reach that level of confirmation vary from one agency to another. The key point is that in the Federal government, most examiners do not make such a decision arbitrarily. They must follow their agency's guidelines, which may require concurrence from their quality control office.


Gordon, confirmation "to the satisfaction of the individual agency" is no real confirmation at all, is it? In your first post, which started this message thread, you wrote:

Quote:
Each Federal agency has a quality control office which reviews every examination. I know of a number of cases where the examiner cleared the person taking the test, but the quality control office detected apparent countermeasures. The persons were re-examined, and the use of countermeasures was confirmed.


All you really meant to say then, is that some federal agencies will decide (based on undisclosed criteria that vary from agency to agency) that a subject employed countermeasures, whether or not the subject admits to it?

What evidence exists that DoDPI-trained polygraphers (or, indeed, any polygraphers) can detect the countermeasures described in The Lie Behind the Lie Detector at better than chance levels?

Lastly, if you would use the relevant/irrelevant format with sophisticated subjects (i.e., those who understand the polygraph procedure), then on what scientific basis do you expect to be able to distinguish truth from deception using this (thoroughly discredited) technique? For the informed, truthful subject who heeds your advice and does not employ countermeasures but instead admits to his/her knowledge of the trickery on which "control" question "test" polygraphy depends, the promise of being treated to a relevant/irrelevant "test" instead is hardly reassuring.
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« Last Edit: May 8th, 2001 at 3:59pm by George W. Maschke »  

George W. Maschke
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Re: Countermeasure considerations for the innocent
Reply #24 - May 8th, 2001 at 7:30pm
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________________________________________________
Surely you jest!  Countermeasures and counter-countermeasures are a high stakes battle which directly impacts the criminal justice system and national security. 
_________________________________________________

No, my friend, surely you jest!  Although you wrap yourself, your former profession, and its practices in the American flag and give it the solemnity due national security, this will not continue for long.  Once stripped of this artificial association to national security (national security and criminal justice will be furthered through the elimination of polygraphy), polygraph counter-countermeasures and the like will properly be relegated to the likes and gravitas of Boris and Natasha or spy vs. spy of Mad Magazine.  The only remaining interest and purpose left standing will be the long-term employment prospects of your former associates...
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Re: Countermeasure considerations for the innocent
Reply #25 - May 8th, 2001 at 7:38pm
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Anonymous,

The root cause of our different views lies in whether the polygraph works better than chance or not.  That is a discussion I look forward to on a different thread.  It's a complex issue with many aspects, enough to keep everybody involved for months to come.

Peace.
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Re: Countermeasure considerations for the innocent
Reply #26 - May 8th, 2001 at 9:13pm
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Gordon,

     You gave the following reply to George Maschke when queried about how to deal with a potential polygraph examinee knowledgeable about (1) the examiner deception involved in CQT polygraphy and (2) publicly disseminated countermeasures to this technique.

______________________________________________________________________

As for how I would deal with the situation, I would have no qualms about conducting an examination.  My personal outlook is “when in doubt, give it a try and see what happens.”  I would go into the situation with my eyes open, aware of the pitfalls, and make sure that the person receiving my report was also aware of the need for caution in relying upon the results.  When I was an examiner in private practice, I tested several polygraph examiners on real world matters.  The only thing I did differently from testing a naïve subject was to use a relevant/irrelevant (RI) test format, which is less susceptible to point countermeasures.  The RI test is far more sophisticated in design and interpretation than most critics give it credit for.  To be used successfully, I believe it requires formal training followed by an internship under experienced practitioners, so this option is not realistic for many examiners.
_______________________________________________________________________

     Mr. Maschke then characterized the RI technique as “thoroughly discredited” and “hardly reassuring” to a knowledgeable person facing the prospect of taking such an exam.  He is correct on both counts, but because this audience is likely largely unfamiliar with the RI technique, I would like to spend some time with it---its theory of practice, suggested shortcomings (even in comparison to CQT polygraphy), its scoring, and ready methods for countermeasuring this type of exam or one with any number of single-stimulus (relevant) questions.  All of that is a bit beyond this post, though, and the time I have available to devote to it this evening, but I would like to comment on what I believe is a critical juncture in the dialogue we are now having.

     If this were a criminal interrogation, you were a criminal suspect (hopefully having been read your rights by now), and the alleged crime was fabricating the existence of a viable polygraph counter-countermeasure program for CQT polygraph screening applications, at this juncture I would stop the interview and take a signed-sworn statement.

     Although you have continually (in this thread) suggested to the contrary, through your quoted commentary to Mr. Maschke what you have done is implicitly admit that no such program exists.  When asked how you would handle the subject, instead of saying “I would proceed as planned with the CQT polygraph screening because no problem exists, i.e., I can rely on my DoD-developed countermeasure detection algorithm to sort out any countermeasure attempts…” you have done quite something else.  What you have done is to abandon CQT polygraphy as a sinking ship under the conditions Mr. Maschke presented you and to strike out with another format (again, even a more problematic one to be discussed at a later time).  The issue here is not the comparison between CQT and RI polygraph techniques, but that you would so quickly abandon CQT polygraphy.  This ready betrayal of the present mainstay of government polygraph screening programs (CQT polygraphy) plus your unwillingness (and I suspect inability) to answer my questions about counter-countermeasures can only lead a reasonable person to conclude what I have said all along----counter-countermeasures to CQT polygraphy are but a bluff and a wish of a dying industry…
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Re: Countermeasure considerations for the innocent
Reply #27 - May 9th, 2001 at 12:33pm
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Anonymous said:

Quote:
 When asked how you would handle the subject, instead of saying “I would proceed as planned with the CQT polygraph screening because no problem exists, i.e., I can rely on my DoD-developed countermeasure detection algorithm to sort out any countermeasure attempts…” you have done quite something else.


You seem to have misunderstood what I’ve been saying.  I have never said, nor implied, that no countermeasure problem exists.  On the contrary, it has expanded dramatically.  During the Cold War, the government’s main concern about countermeasures was what hostile intelligence services were doing.  That involved a miniscule number of examinations out of all that were conducted.  Today, the testing environment is completely different.  Detailed countermeasure instructions are available on the Internet to everyone.  The incidence of easy-to-detect low level CMs is diminishing, and the incidence of the more sophisticated mid-level CMs has increased dramatically.  There is no longer a real need for foreign intelligence services to spend their resources developing countermeasures, for the techniques are all available on the Internet for a nominal fee or free of charge.  The sad thing about this, in my view, is that it is American citizens who are advising sex offenders, murderers, spies, and rapists how to beat the test.

What I have said is that we have learned a lot about detecting mid-level countermeasures.  There are a number of factors which influence the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of countermeasures.  Some are under the complete or partial control of the person being examined, others by the examiner.  I have also said that we are increasingly able to detect mid-level countermeasures, and that innocent/truthful persons should be aware of that and the associated consequences when they are deciding whether to try them.  Finally, I have said that I do not know what percentage of mid-level countermeasures we are detecting in real world examinations, for I don’t know the base rate for countermeasures.  I know that an increasing number of Federal examiners have received formal training in how to detect them, and that we are in fact detecting more of them.  Whether this is due to the training, or because more people are trying countermeasures, is hard to say.  I suspect it is a combination of the two.

Anonymous’ final point was that I appear to be willing to quickly abandon the CQT.  That misconstrues my position.  I think it is important to keep all forms of the CQT in the examiners’ armamentarium.  But this does not mean that in today’s testing environment we can conduct business as usual.

The CQT was developed more than half a century ago.  As it was modified and numerical scoring systems were developed, it was all on the premise that persons taking the test were generally naïve about how the test was structured and scored.  That is no longer the case, though I’m not sure the polygraph profession fully realizes the implications of that.  There are short term fixes and long range solutions that must be developed.  I would certainly hope that the CQT is not the end point in the evolution of credibility assessment technology.

One of the short term fixes, in my opinion, is to decrease the emphasis on the CQT.  The majority of examiners today probably consider it the technique of preference in virtually every situation.  I have long advocated a greater role for other formats, such as peak of tension, guilty knowledge, and relevant-irrelevant tests.  Every testing technique has an inherent set of strengths and weaknesses, capabilities and limitations.  In a situation where the person being tested is using or is likely to use point countermeasures, it makes good sense to switch to a test which is less susceptible to them.

Peace.
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Re: Countermeasure considerations for the innocent
Reply #28 - May 9th, 2001 at 1:57pm
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Gordon,

Although you somewhat place your admission in perspective, it in no way changes its overall nature as simply that--an admission that CQT counter-countermeasures are for all practical purposes a functional myth. Although you suggest keeping the CQT in the present polygrapher's armamentarium, you give no compelling reason for doing so. In fact, your own subsequent commentary relegates the CQT to ancient history dependent upon the widespread naïveté of a gullible populace. In fact, Gordon, under cross-examination, you would make an excellent expert witness for why the national security should no longer rest with CQT polygraphy. You should be congratulated on your honesty, even though it clearly runs counter to the sort of wild claims of invincibility normally put forth by the polygraph community, e.g., numerous such posts on polygraphplace.com.

If you believe what you suggest about information-based tests, then we do have some common ground.

You still need to answer to those victimized by the CQT regarding how they should be compensated (following up on your "doctors bury their mistakes" observation). And you should very clearly understand that the reason for Americans providing the world with polygraph countermeasures is that the American population is that which has been most heavily victimized by polygraphy (American polygraphers representing a majority of the world's population of polygraphers). Although Great Britain has had spies as has the U.S., British subjects have not played a role in disseminating polygraph countermeasure information, not because they are more patriotic than U.S. citizens, but because their relatively enlightened government has protected its subjects from the victimization of polygraphy.......
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Re: Countermeasure considerations for the innocent
Reply #29 - May 9th, 2001 at 1:58pm
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 Mr.G.Barland states;
"The sad thing about this, in my view, is that it is American citizens who are advising sex offenders, murderers, spies, and rapists how to beat the test."
 Well sir, if it wasn't for the fact that Law Enforcement agencies were completly abusing this machine as a do-or-die hiring device the world probably would still be left in the dark about this atrocious beast that you call a "lie detector". This information that is being distributed is the direct result of numerous people being denied employment for false, baseless accusations made by people like yourself. Sure we don't want to see the type of people that you mentioned above get over on the system. But we all now know that your machine that has incriminated so many people in the past is full of flaws and not based on any proven scientific theory, infact it's been admonished by the scientific community.
  So don't go blaming anyone but yourself and your constituents for this valuable information posted for all of the world to see.
  Thank god we still use "beyond a reasonable doubt" in our criminal justice system. There is nothing but "reasonable doubt" in your instrument you blindly see as a lie detector.
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