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"...the theory and methods of polygraphic lie detection are not rocket science, indeed, they are not science at all."

Emeritus Professor
David T. Lykken
(1928-2006)

"The 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."

Emeritus Professor
John J. Furedy
(1940-2016)

"The 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

"[Polygraph 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."

former Supervisory
Special Agent
Dr. Drew C. Richardson, (1951-2016)
FBI Laboratory Division

"Polygraph testing has been the gold standard, but it's obviously fool's gold."

Prof. Stephen E. Fienberg (1942-2016)
Chairman, Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph,
National Academy of Sciences

"If we had medical tests that had the same failure rate as a polygraph, then physicians that use those tests would be convicted of malpractice."

Dr. Alan P. Zelicoff, M.D.

"Polygraph is more art than science, and unless an admission is obtained, the final determination is frequently what we refer to as a scientific wild-ass guess (SWAG)"

retired
CIA polygrapher
John F. Sullivan

"If you choose to implement this astrology surrogate, and to treat us with such deep disrespect, do not confuse our contempt for arrogance."

physicist
David Dearborn
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

"People in the security community are so wedded to polygraph testing that they are just going to ignore the scientific facts about this."

scientist
Jeffrey D. Colvin
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

"Whether it is screening applicants or screening employees, the polygraph is a failure. I suspect that its days as a screening tool are deservedly near an end."

former FBI Special Agent
Mark Mallah

"The US is, so far as I know, the only nation which places such extensive reliance on the polygraph....It has gotten us into a lot of trouble."

convicted spy
Aldrich H. Ames

"[The CIA's] reliance on the polygraph is truly insane"

former CIA Director
John M. Deutch

"...the use of this highly flawed instrument should be radically curtailed."

former CIA Director
R. James Woolsey

"You have to go in there with a gladiator mentality."

retired FBI polygrapher
Jack Trimarco

"It's kind of like...confessing to a priest..."

T.V. O'Malley
Past President,
American Polygraph Association

"If you come in concerned and scared, that's normal and a good thing."

David M. Renzelman
Former DOE Polygraph
Program Chief

"I don't know anything about polygraphs, and I don't know how accurate they are, but I know they'll scare the hell out of people."

President
Richard M. Nixon

(Why not enhance your privacy by using the free Tor Browser?)

"The whole process smacks of 20th century witchcraft." U.S. Senator Sam Ervin (1896-1985)

Polygraph "testing" has no scientific basis.
The lie detector is itself based on lies...

Did you know:

Educate yourself. Before playing Russian roulette with your reputation, learn how to protect yourself against this invalid test. Download AntiPolygraph.org's free book (1 mb PDF):

The Lie Behind the Lie Detector

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 as, "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 testing has 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 against the 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.

Polygraph Countermeasure Challenge
On 28 January 2002, the late polygraph expert Dr. Drew C. Richardson, a former FBI scientist and supervisory special agent, reiterated his challenge to the polygraph community to prove their claimed ability to detect countermeasures (techniques for passing -- or beating -- the polygraph). His challenge went 14 years without any takers. What are the polygraph operators afraid of? (Listen to a personal message from Dr. Richardson.)

Lie Detectors Lie: The Pentagon's False Promise of Assured Loyalty
This 1985 Washington Post op-ed by Peter J. Ognibene remains salient today, as polygraph techniques have not improved in any significant way in the intervening years. Ognibene argues that "To increase our reliance on polygraph testing in the name of national security can only jeopardize our security."

17 Years Online
Monday, 18 September 2017 marks the 17th anniversary of AntiPolygraph.org going online. We have plans for the coming year to share.

White House May (Or May Not) Resort to Lie Detectors to Identify Leakers
On Friday, 4 May 2017, on the Fox News program Fox & Friends, presenter Steve Doocy asked President Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway why they don't use lie detectors to identify who leaked the transcripts of President Trump's phone conversations with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull...

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin Hypocritically Embraces Polygraph "Testing"
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced Senate Bill 1560 that would expand polygraph screening at the Department of Homeland Security. Specifically, the bill would block any exemptions to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) pre-employment polygraph requirement (as contemplated by House Resolution 2213) and mandate pre-employment polygraph screening at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Polygraph Critic Doug Williams Freed from Prison
Polygraph critic Doug Williams, who was targeted for prosecution in Operation Lie Busters for teaching people how to pass or beat a polygraph "test," was released this morning from the federal prison camp in Florence, Colorado and is now on his way back home to Oklahoma.

DIA Video on Ana Belen Montes Espionage Case
AntiPolygraph.org has obtained and is publishing a copy of a "For Official Use Only" video produced by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 2006 about the Ana Belen Montes espionage case.

Imprisoned Polygraph Critic Doug Williams on This American Life
Episode 618 of the popular radio program This American Life features the story of Doug Williams, the former police polygraphist who turned against polygraphy and in 1979 began providing the public with information and training on how to pass or beat a polygraph "test."

"If you fail the CIA polygraph...you are blacklisted from ever gaining CIA employment for the rest of your life."
Guest poster Snowden2 shares his or her CIA polygraph experience.

Doug Williams Argues Why He Should Be Allowed to Continue Teaching People How to Pass a Polygraph Test
On 21 February 2017, Doug Williams filed a reply to the government's opposition, challenging the Justice Department's legal arguments and arguing forcefully why his freedom of speech should not be curtailed.

U.S. Department of Justice Effectively Concedes that Polygraph Countermeasures Are Effective
The U.S. Department of Justice effectively conceded that polygraph countermeasures are effective in arguing against incarcerated polygraph critic Doug Williams' motion that he be allowed to engage in polygraph-related activities during his upcoming three-year period of supervised release.

DIA's Insider Threat Program
"On October 7th, 2011, then-President Obama established an Executive Order, “STRUCTURAL REFORMS TO IMPROVE THE SECURITY OF CLASSIFIED NETWORKS AND THE RESPONSIBLE SHARING AND SAFEGUARDING OF CLASSIFIED INFORMATION.”
The intent of this Order, was to stop any further WikiLeaks-style disclosures. As a result, the Insider Threat Task Force was formed and directed to find potential traitors. Individuals in this Task Force aggressively target employees that exhibit specific indicators...."

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Applicant Megan Brown Discusses Her Polygraph Experience
In this video statement posted to YouTube on 31 January 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection applicant Megan Brown describes her pre-employment polygraph experience, which included an accusation of attempted polygraph countermeasures.

Polygraph Screening Prevents U.S. Customs and Border Protection from Meeting Hiring Goals
Associated Press reporter Elliot Spagat reports on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's pre-employment polygraph screening program.

Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Tyree C. Blocker Scraps Polygraph Screening
Applicants for employment with the Pennsylvania State Police will no longer be required to submit to the pseudoscientific ritual of polygraph screening.

Jailed Polygraph Critic Doug Williams Appeals Ban on Post-Release Participation "In Any Form of Polygraph-Related Activity"
On 22 September 2015, federal judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange sentenced Doug Williams to 24 months in prison following his guilty plea to charges connected with his having taught undercover federal agents how to pass or beat a polygraph "test." Her sentencing order further instructs that upon release (scheduled for 26 July 2017), Williams will be subjected to three years' "supervised release" during which time he "shall not participate in any form of polygraph-related activity."

 


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