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, 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.)
RCMP Applicant Read The Lie Behind the Lie Detector and Beat the Polygraph An article published in the French language newspaper Le Soleil in 2011 recounts the story of an applicant for employment with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) who read AntiPolygraph.org's free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector, and used the countermeasure techniques provided therein to pass the RCMP's pre-employment polygraph examination while lying about salient details of his history, including whether he intended to use polygraph countermeasures.
Drew Richardson, RIP It is with deep sadness that we report that retired FBI scientist and supervisory special agent Dr. Drew C. Richardson, who has for many years been a friend and mentor to AntiPolygraph.org's co-founders, was killed in a tragic accident at his home in Greenville, Virginia on Thursday, 21 July 2016.
National Border Patrol Council Official Cites Polygraph Abuse In a report by Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco published 23 June 2016, National Border Patrol Council vice president and Tucson Local 2544 president Art Del Cueto criticized U.S. Customs and Border Protection's polygraph practices.
New AntiPolygraph.org Mailing List AntiPolygraph.org is launching a new public mailing list for e-mail discussion of polygraph issues (and notifications of important news).
Sen. Jeff Flake Raises Concern Over CBP Polygraph Practices In a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary held Thursday, 30 June 2016, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) expressed concern to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson about the level of false positives in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection pre-employment polygraph program, and that such false positives amount to a "scarlet letter" for employment elsewhere in government.