so-called 'control' question 'test' polygraph is a technological flight
of fancy. It is often used as a psychological rubber hose to induce
confessions. Founded on lies, it spreads distrust while posing as the
path to truth."
lie detector, in many places, is nothing more than a psychological third-degree aimed at extorting a confession as the old physical beatings were. At times I'm sorry I ever had any part in its development."
polygraph pioneer John A. Larson
screening] is completely without any theoretical foundation and has
absolutely no validity...the diagnostic value of this type of testing
is no more than that of astrology or tea-leaf reading."
The researcher who developed the U.S. Government's polygraph Test for Espionage and Sabotage "thought the whole security screening program should be shut down?"
The National Academy of Sciences concluded that "[polygraph testing's] accuracy in distinguishing actual or potential security violators from innocent test takers is insufficient to justify reliance on its use in employee security screening in federal agencies?"
The dirty little secret behind the polygraph is that the
"test" depends on trickery, not science. The person being "tested" is
not supposed to know that while the polygraph operator declares that
all questions must be answered truthfully, warning that the slightest
hint of deception will be detected, he secretly assumes that denials in
response to certain questions -- called "control" questions -- will be
less than truthful. An example of a commonly used control question is,
"Did you ever lie to get out of trouble?" The polygrapher steers the
examinee into a denial by warning, for example, that anyone who would
do so is the same kind of person who would commit the kind of behavior
that is under investigation and then lie about it. But secretly, it is
assumed that everyone has lied to get out of trouble.
The polygraph pens don't do a special dance when a
person lies. The polygrapher scores the test by comparing physiological
responses (breathing, blood pressure, heart, and perspiration rates) to
these probable-lie control questions with reactions to relevant
questions such as, "Did you ever commit an act of espionage against the
United States?" (commonly asked in security screening). If the former
reactions are greater, the examinee passes; if the latter are greater,
he fails. If responses to both "control" and relevant questions are
about the same, the result is deemed inconclusive.
The test also includes irrelevant questions such
"Are the lights on in this room?" The polygrapher falsely explains that
such questions provide a "baseline for truth," because the true answer
is obvious. But in reality, they are not scored at all! They merely
serve as buffers between pairs of relevant and "control" questions.
The simplistic methodology used in polygraph
no grounding in the scientific method: it is no more scientific than
astrology or tarot cards. Government agencies value it because people
who don't realize it's a fraud sometimes make damaging admissions. But
as a result of reliance on this voodoo science, the truthful are often
falsely branded as liars while the deceptive pass through.
Perversely, the "test" is inherently biased
truthful, because the more honestly one answers the "control"
questions, and as a consequence feels less stress when answering them,
the more likely one is to fail. Conversely, liars can beat the test by
covertly augmenting their physiological reactions to the "control"
questions. This can be done, for example, by doing mental arithmetic,
thinking exciting thoughts, altering one's breathing pattern, or simply
biting the side of the tongue. Truthful persons can also use these
techniques to protect themselves against the risk of a false positive
outcome. Although polygraphers frequently claim they can detect such
countermeasures, no polygrapher has ever demonstrated any ability to do
so, and peer-reviewed research suggests that they can't.
January 2002, retired FBI polygraph expert Dr. Drew C. Richardson reiterated his challenge to the polygraph community to prove their claimed
ability to detect countermeasures
(techniques for passing -- or beating -- the polygraph). His challenge has gone eleven years without any takers. What are the polygraph operators afraid of? (Listen to a personal message from Dr. Richardson.)
DIA Polygraph Contractor Accused of Fraud A poster to the AntiPolygraph.org message board reports that the management of E-Merging Technologies Group, which provides polygraph services the Defense Intelligence Agency, faces fraud charges in civil litigation. Statements of complaint from two lawsuits, one by a former director of the U.S. Secret Service, are included.
Member of Congress Alleges Polygraph Abuse in Case of Special Forces Major Matt Golsteyn U.S. Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA) in an article co-authored with former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Bing West accuses the U.S. Army of wrongly relying on records of a CIA preemployment polygraph examination to criminally investigate Special Forces Major Mathew L. Golsteyn and strip him of a medal and his Special Forces tab...
NPR on Upcoming Trial of Polygraph Critic Doug Williams On Friday, 2 January 2015, National Public Radio aired a report by Martin Kaste on the upcoming trial of polygraph critic Doug Williams, who was targeted in a February 2014 sting operation led by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection polygraph unit.
Federal Polygraph School Gave Countermeasure Information to Polygraph Company Coming on the heels of an accusation that a senior official at the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA) facilitated the transfer of classified information to the government of Singapore via the Lafayette Instrument Company, AntiPolygraph.org has received information that NCCA has provided polygraph countermeasure documentation to a representative of Stoelting Co., another polygraph-manufacturing company.
CBP Withholds Operation Lie Busters PowerPoint Presentation On 1 October 2013, AntiPolygraph.org electronically filed a Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of the PowerPoint presentation on Operation Lie Busters presented by CBP polygraph chief John R. Schwartz at the American Association of Police Polygraphists' annual meeting on 3 June 2013.
NCCA Seeks Polygraph Countermeasure Detection Software A 2013 presentation by the National Center for Credibility Assessment documents that the federal polygraph school is working on a computer software project intended to automate the detection of polygraph countermeasures.
Don Krapohl Accused of Violating Espionage Act As noted yesterday on the blog, recently retired Defense Intelligence Agency counterintelligence agent Scott W. Carmichael has accused Don Krapohl, a senior official at the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA), of violating the Espionage Act by orchestrating the transfer of classified information to the government of Singapore....
Senior Official at Federal Polygraph School Accused of Espionage Scott W. Carmichael, a recently retired counterintelligence investigator with the Defense Intelligence Agency, has accused Donald Krapohl, Special Assistant to the Chief, National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA) and longtime editor of the American Polygraph Association quarterly, Polygraph, of violating the Espionage Act of 1917.