Normal Topic If more than 2 outcomes were possible... (Read 2403 times)
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If more than 2 outcomes were possible...
May 5th, 2001 at 4:11am
Mark & QuoteQuote Print Post  
Something occured to me recently as to why the polygraph hasn't already been abolished. The examiner is supposed to draw 1 of only 2 possible conclusions: truth or lie. So in general, if the examiner were to pick a conclusion at random, the examiner is right half the time.

However, if there were, hypothetically, 3 or 4 possible outcomes instead of 2, the probability of guessing correctly goes down dramatically to 1/3 and 1/4 (respectively).

So if, hypothetically of-course, the examiner had to make a determination out of multiple possibilities, the "polygraph machine"'s failings would be soooo much more blatant and apparent since the examiner would be wrong the vast majority of the time. But with only two possible outcomes, the polygraph community has been able to rally support by being right even only half the time.

The fact the polygraph has infested the government to such an extreme degree is testament to how the cocky, aggressive polygraph industry can take advantage of a government desperate and gullible enough to believe in something too good to be true (no pun intended).
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Re: If more than 2 outcomes were possible...
Reply #1 - May 8th, 2001 at 5:52pm
Mark & QuoteQuote Print Post  
Bear in mind the _principle_ reason for the employment of the polygraph is not simply some kind of test of character, but the production of information.

The true thrill for the polycrapper is the flow of babbling confessions they get from people, operating on their fear of detecting deception.

To that extent, the entire truth vs. lie thing is a dog and pony show. Cheap magic. The rabbit and hat are the props that the magician employs to create the illusion of his magical powers. His ability to pull the rabbit out of the hat is secondary to the illusion of power he creates through the trickery.

(I find magic metaphors the most apt when discussing the polycrap--incidentally, sorry to read your career may have been thwarted by the box)
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If more than 2 outcomes were possible...

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