for Screening. This web page maintained by Professor Charles
R. Honts of Boise State University provides studies on polygraph
screening in Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format.
The Polygraph Place.
A website run by polygraphers for polygraphers. Includes a message
board, but that board is censored. Posts that openly reject
the validity of polygraphy are deleted.
National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA). Located at the U.S. Army's
Fort Jackson, South Carolina, NCCA is responsible for the training
of all federal polygraphers, including those from non-DoD agencies
like the CIA, FBI, and U.S. Secret Service. NCCA is also responsible
for all federally-funded research
of polygraphy. The DoDPI website provides little substantive
Lie detector tests have become a popular cultural icon - from crime dramas to comedies to advertisements - the picture of a polygraph pen wildly gyrating on a moving chart is readily recognized symbol. But, as psychologist Leonard Saxe, PhD, (1991) has argued, the idea that we can detect a person's veracity by monitoring psychophysiological changes is more myth than reality....
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association believes
that there is convincing evidence to suggest that the use
of the polygraph is arbitrary, subjective, biased toward
accusations of guilt and claims of very high validity are
scientifically indefensible. However, even if one is not
willing to be persuaded by evidence on these matters, one
must admit, at the very least, that there is no scientific
opinion whatsoever concerning the validity of polygraph
testing. In fact, there is extremely wide divergence over
the validity of the test.
The so-called "control" question "test"
(CQT) has been criticized on methodological and ethical
grounds by psychophysiologists. The ethical analyses have
focussed on the possibility that the CQT's interrogative
features may elicit false confessions, but an empirical
problem is that the rate of these false confessions is difficult
to establish. In this conceptual note I raise a *logico-*
ethical problem for the CQT, called The Polygrapher's Dilemma
(PD). The two horns of PD are damage the innocent examinee
classified as deceptive, and damage to those examinee's
psychological well being who are classified as non-deceptive
to the relevant questions, and who are not even debriefed
concerning their feelings of unease about issues raised
by the comparison, so-called "control" questions. Although
there may be arguments about which of the PD's two horns
are more serious, there is no doubt that both are, in an
absolute sense, ethically negative. Nor is there an ethically
justifiable third alternative available. It is also contended
that not only practitioners but also researchers (who use
the CQT in laboratory, "mock-crime" situations) are affected
by PD. Finally, I note that PD exists only for the CQT procedure,
and not for the more standardized and scientifically based
Guilty Knowledge Technique.
Within a few days of each other in June,
Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and Attorney General Janet
Reno had to respond to internal security breaches. Both
were faced with the option of hooking their employees up
to polygraph equipment that would measure their blood pressure,
pulse, respiration, and sweat gland activity-and ostensibly
would uncover guilt.
McCarthy, Susan. "The
Truth about the Polygraph,"Salon, 2 March 2000.
This is one of the few published articles that exposes the trickery
on which polygraph "testing" depends. The author also discusses
polygraph policy. The following is an excerpt:
Why does the Department of Energy want
to do polygraph testing if it's junk science? Is it so stupid
it doesn't know that?
It is not stupid, though some congresspeople
When the scientists at the nuclear labs
went public with their protest against being given polygraphs,
retired Air Force Gen. Eugene Habiger, in charge of the
DOE's security, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the
test is a powerful deterrent.
Polygraphs don't have to work to be a deterrent.
People just have to believe that they work and can reveal
whether they have committed crimes. The DOE doesn't have
to believe they work, either.
A lawyer for the Central Intelligence Agency,
suspended from duty under suspicion of unauthorized contact
with Israel, is preparing an unprecedented suit challenging
the validity of the spy agency's "lie detector" test, which
he claims stereotypes Jews as security risks.
Taylor, Marisa. McClatchy reporter Marisa Taylor has authored an excellent series of investigative articles on federal polygraph policy. They may be found by searching the McClatchy DC website for keyword "polygraph."