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  Do We Get Beat Regularly?

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Author Topic:   Do We Get Beat Regularly?
posted 12-20-2007 01:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stat   Click Here to Email stat     Edit/Delete Message
OK. It's time for the oddball uncle to bring attention to the uncomfortable subject of successful countermeasures. I suspect that most of us have exaggerated our prowess in "cold detection" of cm's---I call it "cold detection" when you detect countermeasures without real verification---which of course isn't very scientific, if not completely unprovable. I suspect that many of us have not had tons of confessions ---unambiguous confessions mind you---to the actual implimentation of TLBTLD countermeasures rather than mere perusing the material (the more common confession).

I suspect that the subject brings out the defensiveness in us all.
riddle; How many polygraph examiners does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Zero, because polygraph examiners can purport to see in the dark---we don't need those mortal lightbulbs...muuuhahaha.

I have exercised plenty of bravado myself, so don't think I am pointing fingers per se. We know the research projects by Dr. Rovner and associate(?) and another seperate team project (it's late) indicated a lack of success for false neg cm's to be effective.

Of course no one could ever convince me that error rates and cm's justify the removal of polygraph, whether I am in the profession or not, but I would certainly like to see a more candid discussion on the subject. As D. Rumsfeld alluded, I am not altogether sure that we know what we don't know---I twisted his statement for sure, but you get the point.

I suspect that individuals have beaten me with sophisticated cm's in the past, or have at the least caused inc charts---to my unawareness.
I know how to recognize countermeasures as well as most cm trained examiners, so I will have to reject offhand that I am lacking in some key insight that I missed the train on. I have taken comfort in the moronic attempts, but real slick oral and mental countermeasures were not commonly detected by me---in fact it was very rare when I got a really smooth attempt identified.

I am really on the fence about this cm issue. Again, I am speaking directly of the false negative variety. The kind of countermeasure where the examiner's ass is on the line---where he bites a piece of his tongue far more violently than lab kids---and is far more determined to focus on mental aspects than the wondering mind of a horney volunteer.

Any thoughts?

"Are you interested in joining? The benefits are terrific. The trick is not to get killed. That's really the key to the benefit program."----Peter Falk, The In-Laws

[This message has been edited by stat (edited 12-21-2007).]

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Barry C
posted 12-20-2007 09:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Barry C   Click Here to Email Barry C     Edit/Delete Message
The research shows two things: CMs don't usually work, and it's a good thing because we can't recognize them very well.

Does that mean they can't work? No, I don't think so. I've seen people who have been beat by CMs. I was involved in a case in which I and other more experienced examiners (including Dr. Barland - and his opinion is one that should carry some serious weight in such contexts) scored the charts as DI with suspicion of CMs; however, the original examiner had no problem scoring those five or six chart division cardio rises in the CQs and going NDI. (To date,as far as I know, the examiner still considers it "a difference of opinion.")

That's the problem. We do have examiners getting beat, and the victors are sharing their war stories, which means we've got to be on alert.

I think the bigger fear is failing the innocent who get conned by the AP people.

One other thing to remember: polygraph isn't perfect. A person can use CMs and pass, but that doesn't mean the CMs are the reason. It could have been an error - errors we're going to have with an imperfect test.

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posted 12-20-2007 12:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rnelson   Click Here to Email rnelson     Edit/Delete Message
Eric, you are always good for starting the hard conversations.


While I was staring at this wondering what to do, Barry found the courage to respond.

I believe this is a very difficult topic for examiners, for several reasons.

First, no-body wants to suggest to others that they can't do their job.

Second, because we are in the business of influencing important decisions with information that is difficult to obtain, we also want to personally believe we are correct - else we'd lose a lot of sleep.

Just lookup up the work of Vrij and others in our sister sciences (testing and diagnostics), and you'll see that training, experience, degrees, gold-star certificats on our walls, and all the LMNOP and I-love-me credentials after our names does not seem to translate into accurate and reliable diagnostics. What does seem to work, over and over, is common sense and careful efforts. Doctors and psychotherapists right out of school can provide diagnostic opinions with accuracy that meets or exceeds those of more experienced professionals. High school teachers can provide risk assessment opinions that are as accurate as, and more reliable than, those of experienced forensic psychiatrists.

The real challenge for these conversations is to avoid the temptation to either snipe at or indict the work of others, or to don the giant-belt-buckle (thanks for the metaphor, stat) and pretend the invinceable hero.

Then we can examine our theoretical premises and study the data.

The practical challenge is to differentiate normal interpretable data from that which is outside normal limits and should not be interpreted. The construct challenge is to differentiate between authentic sympathetic/autonomic data and that which is augmented through behavioral/peripheral nervous system activity or mental/emotional efforts. There is also the problem that some people's psychological or physiological profiles may produce data that is odd or uninterpretable (Tourrette's, psychosis, multiple pain or psych meds, the blasted antihistamines, and other possibilities)

I think there is a lot of room for several important conversations about matters related to science, policy, and field practice.


"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the war room."
--(Stanley Kubrick/Peter Sellers - Dr. Strangelove, 1964)

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posted 12-20-2007 01:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stat   Click Here to Email stat     Edit/Delete Message
To start, I imagine that barring a parliamentary-style mass argument, a real time web paster for charts would be helpful. I invision(ed) a federal type of system where examiners can post charts in an instant with clear notes and marks for comment---not just a seperate page but a running thread without having to click back and forth to post comments.
Picture a cool poll (DI, NDI, INC, CM) for voting on charts attached to individual charts---just like the polling mechanism at anti. Hell, we could even have unofficial wagering and contests! ha
Also helpful would be that instrument manufacturers could devise a way for us to post charts from the software without the identities of examinees requiring examiners to white-out ID's.
More spoiled yet would be having state PCSOT rules that state that giving FINAL results could be delayed by a day after the tests that appear suspicious---rather than containment teams tapping their feet with impatience and guidelines stating that sex offenders need be told what their results were before they leave.
And finally, it would be helpful if we could get a better consensus on the threats of sophisticated countermeasures. There are several big belt buckles out there that think that cm's are feeble, and there are others that believe that we are being defeated constantly---and then there are the majority in between. Clearly there is a high art to detecting countermeasures---as is true for any subtle/minute observational process. Perhaps there is a little too much "gut" involved though.

All I know for absolute certainty is that I can jack my "pen stops" with severe yet secretive tongue-biting and mental countermeasures (visualizing an axe tumbling through the air at my face)---and was able to do so upon glancing at how long it takes for the graph to reflect my response (4 seconds gsr, 5 seconds cardio). Ah shucks, I dunno.

"Are you interested in joining? The benefits are terrific. The trick is not to get killed. That's really the key to the benefit program."----Peter Falk, The In-Laws

[This message has been edited by stat (edited 12-20-2007).]

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posted 12-21-2007 10:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for skipwebb   Click Here to Email skipwebb     Edit/Delete Message
I think we often fail to recognize cm attempts because one of the more ego driven aspects of comparison question testing is the ability of the examiner to “set” the comparisons or the ability to make the comparison questions meaningful. When we see huge reactions to these comparison questions, our inclination is to pat ourselves on the back for doing such a fine job.

Before assigning numerical scores to anything, what we should be doing is looking first at the reactions to the relevant questions and asking ourselves:
1. Are there clear reactions at the relevant questions?
2. Are these reactions consistent across each asking of the questions?
3. Are the reactions, timely to the presentation of the stimulus?
4. Do the reactions to the relevant questions appear to be appropriate physiologically?

If we are answering “yes” to these questions about the relevant questions then we must look at the comparison questions and ask ourselves questions 2, 3 and 4.

I think we are most often beaten (false negative calls) when we ignore the obvious. If a comparison test is working properly, there should be clear:
1. Significance – The examinee should be finding one or the other types of question to be more significant than the other.
2. Salience - The examinee should find that one or the other types of questions are more salient than the others
3. Cognitive dissonance – The comparison questions should create dissonance which is displayed by greater reaction to the comparison questions in an NDI examinee.

I become concerned when I see huge, often delayed and long lasting reactions to comparison question while seeing relatively good timely appropriate reactions to relevant question on the same test. I become concerned when I see disruption (not suppression) to the respiratory channels accompanied by large EDA reactions and long drawn out cardio reactions at comparison questions.

It has been my experience that when deceptive people answer a relevant question with “no”, the reaction is immediate and short lived. After all it takes less than a second to say no to a question that the truthful answer is really yes. They have had a long time to make the decision to lie on that question (well before the test) to decide to do so. Similarly, the truthful person should be able to answer quickly and decisively as well to the relevant questions.

Answering “no” to a comparison question, on the other hand, by an innocent examinee should create a slower, longer duration reaction as a decision and memory process is in the making and salience and cognitive dissonance are occurring. The reaction shouldn’t be gigantic, however. If the deceptive/guilty subject reacts at all to a comparison question, I wouldn’t expect it to be short lived and weak by comparison.

Unfortunately, many examiner are not adding 20-25 seconds of silent, no questions, chart data at the end of the test and prior to the test chart beginning so they have no routine non reactive physioloy to look at to see what is normal for this examinee. I noticed that many new examiners do not look at the “total chart” before jumping into numerical scoring and decision making. That’s why I believe the scoring software has shortcomings. It can’t make value judgments about the tracings like an experienced examiner can. Just an opinion from an old fart to generate comment from others.

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