Another Victim Of The Polygraph

by J. Daine

I have been a sworn peace officer for the Los Angeles Police Department for a number of years, and was seeking a position in a specialized unit. During this time I never had a great deal of trust or confidence in polygraph examinations, but I believed that the exam served as a deterrent to keep the less-than-squeaky-clean officers from applying for this position. My opinion has changed dramatically ever since I became a victim of the polygraph.

When I applied for this position I was aware that I would be required to submit to a polygraph examination. It never occurred to me that I might not pass; to the contrary, I had every reason in the world to believe that I had nothing whatsoever to hide, and would pass without effort. I was terribly wrong!

I am not supposed to discuss this examination with anyone. Indeed I was required to sign a statement promising not to divulge the content or discuss the examination process at all. I consider this requirement null and void since I have discovered the fallacy of the "lie detector test", and that is why I am willingly writing this now for anyone who is willing to read it. However, I do hope the readers of my experience will excuse me for not using my real name, as I would most certainly face the consequences in the form of suspension or termination.

At the beginning of my ordeal, the examiner asked me what I knew about the exam. I made the mistake of admitting my limited knowledge of the process and equipment, explaining my understanding that the exam is not scientifically validated and the results rely heavily on the skill of the individual conducting the examination. Naive as I was, I believed that due to my truthful response I would still pass the exam.

During the course of my exam, my attempts at re-examinations, and the outcome of my failure to pass the exam, I have concluded the following:

  1. A totally innocent person can fail the polygraph. The examiner said I was breathing too slowly and accused me of employing countermeasures. I later learned that this examiner used the same "you're breathing too slow" accusation with other applicants that admitted some limited knowledge of the polygraph process.
  2. The polygraph is "spooky charlatan voodoo magic." Magic only works as long as the audience is ignorant to the clever trick. Once the trick is exposed, the event is not longer "magical." I inadvertently exposed the trick by admitting that I was aware of various facts concerning the polygraph. I was forced to deal with the outcome of my truthful knowledge from this angry charlatan, the polygrapher. I believe this is why the department requires their test subjects to sign that ridiculous agreement in an attempt to keep their "magic" a secret.
  3. The "lie-detector" test is a misnomer. It relies on the ability of the examiner to lie to you. The examiner must convince the examinee that he knows the test subject is being deceptive. It also requires the test subject to lie in order to pass the test. The test does nothing to detect what part is false. My examiner lied, I knew he lied, and we were at an impasse. What now? For him it was easy -- all he had to do was call me the liar, and he won.
  4. I was accused of being too tired and angry to be tested. I do not have confidence in a test that cannot be administered if you are tired or angry. If the test is as scientific as the examiners hope you would believe, they should be able to differentiate between a tired/angry truthful response verses a tired/angry deceptive response.
  5. I now know why the LAPD does not allow their officers to carry their firearms into the examination booths. I was infuriated that I was accused of lying. If I were the charlatan I would not want to be in a closed, sound-proofed room with someone who was angry and armed.

May this be a warning to anyone subject to this testing. Inoculate yourself with knowledge so you cannot be tested by this charlatan trick. After all, the "magicians" cannot be tested by their own craft since they know the secrets. Do your research so you won't become another victim of the polygraph.