Polygraph-related Sites and Pages
American Polygraph Association. Back issues of the APA quarterly Polygraph and other APA publications may be ordered from this site.
Federation of American Scientists Polygraph Resource Page. Provides government documents as well as commentary on polygraphs.
Beijing Police College Polygraph Center. In Chinese.
Israel Polygraph Examiner Association. In Hebrew. Limited English content.
The James Madison Project. Dedicated to promoting government accountability and the reduction of secrecy, this site includes a “polygraph documents vault.” The site’s important links section also contains useful information on polygraph abuses.
NoPolygraph.com. This site provides a wealth of information on polygraph screening, especially as used by the FBI. In the process of merging with AntiPolygraph.org
Polygraph Association of South Africa. In English.
Polygraph 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 polygraphs are deleted.
Sting Publications. Doug Williams’ manual, “How to Sting the Polygraph” may be ordered via this website. Mr. Williams also provides a frequently asked questions list and testimonials from his customers.
StopPolygraph.com. Provides documentation of polygraph abuse, especially by the U.S. Secret Service.
U.S. Department of Defense Polygraph Institute (DoDPI). Located at the U.S. Army’s Fort Jackson, South Carolina, DoDPI is responsible for the training of all federal polygraphers, including those from non-DoD agencies like the CIA, FBI, and U.S. Secret Service. DoDPI is also responsible for all federally-funded research of polygraphs. The DoDPI website provides little substantive information, however.
U.S. Department of Energy. This Department of Energy page provides the Department’s polygraph examination regulation and implementation plan, as well as transcripts of the Department’s public hearings on polygraph policy. It also provides other government documents relevant to polygraph
How to beat a sting
American Polygraph Association
British Civil Liberties Association
Catholic University Law Review
Supreme Court 1998
International Journal of Psychophysiology
DOD Polygraph Institute
Ninth Circuit Case
Polygraph in U.S. v Gillard
Anti Polygraph web site
DOD & DOE Polygraph Program
Survey of Psychologists on Polygraphs
Some Polygraph court cases
Journal of Credibility
Information on CVSA
COMPUTER VOICE STRESS ANALYZER Comparison Study
PDD & Psychology Testing Research Center, Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Content available in both Chinese and English)
American Civil Liberties Union. Briefing Paper Number 4. “Lie Detector Testing.” Undated.
The ACLU has long favored protective legislation against indiscriminate “lie detector” testing in the American workplace, not only because it is unreliable, but also because it is an extreme invasion of privacy. For example, in order to establish “normal” physiological reactions of the person being tested, “lie detector” examiners ask questions that purposely embarrass, frighten and humiliate workers. An ACLU lawsuit in l987 revealed that state employees in North Carolina were routinely asked to answer such questions as “When was the last time you unintentionally exposed yourself after drinking?” and “Who was the last child that got you sexy?” Polygraphs have been used by unscrupulous employers to harass union organizers and whistle-blowers, to coerce employees into “confessing” infractions they did not commit, and to falsely implicate fellow employees.
American Psychological Association. “Psychologists Surveyed on Lie Detectors Say Most Are Not Valid: Not Scientifically Sound and Can Be Easily Deceived.” News release dated 10 June 1997.
WASHINGTON — The use of the polygraph (lie detector test) is not nearly as valid as some say and can easily be beaten and should never be admitted into evidence in courts of law, say psychologists from two scientific communities who were surveyed on the validity of polygraphs. This survey appears in the June issue of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Journal of Applied Psychology.
Beardsley, Tim. “Truth or Consequences: A polygraph screening program raises questions about the science of lie detection,” Scientific American, October 1999.
Aldrich Ames, passed routine polygraph exams as an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, as did another former CIA employee and convicted spy, Harold J. Nicholson.
He [Edward Curran, the Department of Energy’s head of counterintelligence] hotly denies that the polygraph failed to raise suspicions about Ames: the polygrapher in that case made errors, Curran maintains, because subsequent examination of Ames’s polygraph charts shows evidence of deceptiveness.
British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. Position Paper. “The polygraph as a truth detector.” 1984.
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.
Budiansky, Stephen. “Lies that bind,” New Scientist, 19 June 1999.
EARLY THIS CENTURY, a box with a few wires sticking out and flickering needles that jumped across a chart recorder would probably have impressed the average person. Electric gadgets were newish inventions back then. An uncritical enthusiasm for science was in the air. These are the most charitable explanations for the origin of the lie detector.
Faller, Kathleen Coulborn. “The Polygraph, Its Use in Cases of Alleged Sexual Abuse: An Exploratory Study” (74 kb PDF). Excerpt:
Results: Polygraph findings were unrelated to other evidence of likelihood of sexual abuse, that is to the child’s statements or demonstrations of sexual abuse, medical evidence, psychological symptoms, or indicators of sexual abuse from sources other than the child. When alleged offenders passed polygraphs, criminal prosecution was not sought. However, failing polygraphs was not predictive of criminal prosecution. Decisions by child protective services to substantiate or not were not consistently related to any indicators of possible sexual abuse. Decisions by professional evaluators about sexual abuse were best predicted by children’s psychological symptoms.
Fitzpatrick, Robert B. “Lie Detectors Belong in Museums, Not in Sexual Harassment Trials” (188 kb PDF file). From the conclusion:
The use of polygraph results should not be permitted in civil trials. In this regard, even if both parties agree to stipulate as to the polygraph results, courts should not admit the results into evidence due to issues concerning inaccuracy and prejudicial effects. In particular, there is a tremendous potential for abuse in sexual harassment trials. Although the typical sexual harassment case may result in a swearing match between the alleged victim and the alleged harasser, the introduction of polygraph results as evidence would be an invitation to disaster for many plaintiffs. While at first blush plaintiffs’ attorneys may salivate at the thought of putting a polygrapher on the stand to testify that the plaintiff is a truth teller, one can foresee that, given the imbalance of resources, defendants will trot out polygrahers, more often than plaintiffs.
Furedy, John J. “The CQT Polygrapher’s Dilemma: Logico-Ethical Considerations for Psychophysiological Practitioners and Researchers,” International Journal of Psychophysiology, Vol. 15 (1993), pp. 263-67. Abstract:
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.
Furedy, John J. “Some elementary distinctions among, and comments concerning, the ‘control’ question ‘test’ (CQT) polygrapher’s many problems: A reply to Honts, Kircher, and Raskin ,” International Journal of Psychophysiology, Vol. 21 (1996), No. 2-3 (spring/summer). From the abstract:
Although the title of Honts et al.’s paper suggests that it will be a reply to the specific, logico-ethical problem of the CQT polygraph (the Polygrapher’s Dilemma), the text deals only tangentially with this logico-ethical problem, and engages, instead, in a diffuse discussion of related, but different, ethical, methodological, and empirical problems of the CQT polygraph. This paper seeks to restore some clarity to the discussion by reminding us of certain basic distinctions among logico-ethical, ethical, methodological, and empirical problems. In the light of these distinctions, the *relevant* literature, and the essential characteristics of the CQT (which continue to be obscured by the use of systematically misleading terminology), I stand by my claim that, on the ethico-logical grounds (i.e., the CQT Polygrapher’s Dilemma formulated in my 1993 paper ), as well as ethical, methodological, and evidential grounds (which have been detailed elsewhere), the CQT should be abandoned as a serious method of *detecting* deception, no matter how useful it may be to practitioners as an interrogatory prop.
Furedy, John J. “The North American Polygraph and Psychophysiology: Disinterested, Uninterested, and Interested Perspectives,” International Journal of Psychophysiology, Vol. 21 (1996), No. 2-3 (spring/summer). Abstract:
From both a scientific and an applied psychophysiological point of view, the related but different ideas of using physiological measures to differentiate and detect deception are of considerable potential interest. This paper’s primary concern is with psychophysiological detection, and it is mainly focussed on the North American “Control” Question “Test” (CQT). The treatment is disinterested in the sense that there is an insistence on employing fundamental terms in a logically consistent way. Following a detailed description of the CQT, and an analysis of it and related psychophysiological deception procedures, it is suggested that, by and large, the North American research psychophysiological community has failed to measure up to the standards of disinterestedness with respect to the psychophysiological detection of deception. Instead it has adopted an _uninterested_ perspective, which has allowed the _interested_ community of professionals who employ the CQT to hood-wink both themselves and others (including the American Psychological Association) that the CQT is a controversial, but scientifically-based, test for detecting deception. As the most cognate organization, the international psychophysiological research community needs to take a more active and disinterested role in this salient purported application of psychophysiology–the detection of deception.
Government Executive Magazine. “Agencies, employees spar over lie detector tests.”11 September 2000. An unusually well-researched article on polygraph security screening.
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.
Honts, Charles R., Kircher, John C., & Raskin, David C. “Polygrapher’s Dilemma or Psychologist’s Chimaera: A Reply to Furedy’s Logico-ethical Considerations for Psychophysiological Practitioners and Researchers,” International Journal of Psychophysiology, Vol. 20, pp. 199-207. Abstract:
We respond to Furedy’s (1993) article in this journal where he raised an issue he referred to as the “Polygrapher’s Dilemma.” Furedy claimed that the control question test, the most commonly applied psychophysiological detection of deception test, is inherently subjective and harmful to subjects in both the field and the laboratory. Fortunately, Furedy’s arguments were based on inaccurate representations of the control question test and on flawed logic. To correct Furedy’s misrepresentations, we present an accurate description of how the control question test is used and evaluated. We then examine the results of empirical research that address Furedy’s concerns. Furedy’s concerns are found to be lacking on almost all counts. Finally, we discuss the findings from several studies that Furedy failed to mention but are directly relevant to the issues he raised.
(See also Furedy’s reply to Honts, et. al.)
McCarthy, Susan. “Passing the polygraph: Professional criminals are the ones most likely to beat the lie detector,” Salon, 2 March 2000. But for a better explanation of how to pass a polygraph “test,” see chapter four of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.
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 may be.
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.
Sheldon I. Cohen & Associates. “Use of the Polygraph in Security Clearance Determinations.” Security Management Magazine, September, 1998.
Stein, Jeff. “Does the CIA stereotype Jews as security risks?” Salon, June, 1998. Discusses especially the case of CIA lawyer Adam P. Ciralsky:
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.
Stein, Jeff. “Spies and lies: Scientist Wen Ho Lee passed a polygraph test, but the feds want to depend more on them to detect espionage,” Salon, 27 May 1999.
Stone, LeRoy A. “Using the Polygraph to Detect Lying and Deception: The Hoax of the Century.” Electronic Journal of Forensic Psychonomics, 2003. The author is a retired National Security Agency senior clinical psychologist. Excerpt:
…[W]hen I was employed by the Federal intelligence agency, I had considerable contact with many of that agency¹s polygraphers, many of whom became ‘at-work’ friends. With most of these associations, I usually was able to, at least once, ask whether they thought they might be able to obtain the results they were after, even without ever turning on the machine (i.e., the polygraph). Almost all, admitted that not only that they believed that any good polygrapher could be successful even with a machine that was never turned on, but that in some cases they had actually proven to themselves that one could successfully carry off such a charade. To me this could be considered that the polygraphers themselves were fully aware that what they were doing was interrogation and that the polygraph merely was a prop that could be used to encourage the subject individual to confess.
Walters, Scott. “The Rise in the Use of Countermeasures in Pre Employment and Specific Issue PDD Tests,” Florida Polygraph Association website, 29 August 2000. Excerpt:
Today, there is a vast amount of reference materials available on the subject of PDD testing. These reference materials are being published in an effort to improve the validity and accuracy of the Polygraph Examination, and to improve standards within the community of Polygraph Examiners as a whole. Unfortunately, it is also providing individuals with a greater knowledge of how the examination is administered and how the results are determined. How many times have you heard a subject make reference to his/her understanding of what the Comparison question is and why it is used. Thus, rendering any attempt at a Zone Comparison Technique (ZCT) all but useless as a means of determining the truthfulness of that subject.
(For more on the ZCT polygraph format, see George Maschke’s post to the Antipolygraph.org message board dated 17 November 2000.)
Americans for Effective Law Enforcement: Polygraph Exams. This page provides a list of legal cases upholding and rejecting mandatory polygraph “tests,” as well as admissibility and other legal issues.
Criminal Justice Legal Foundation Amicus Curiae brief in U.S. v. Scheffer (United States Supreme Court No. 96-1133). Excerpt from summary of argument:
The polygraph is a scientifically invalid machine that does not deserve the constitutional protection given by the court below. The problems with polygraphy are old and continuous; polygraphers and polygraphs have a long history of promising much more than they deliver. There is no reason to believe that recent innovations change the validity of the polygraph as a lie detector, as the last substantial changes in polygraph techniques are over 30 years old.
The polygraph is not a valid lie detector. Its greatest problem is that there is no valid theoretical explanation for the polygraph as a lie detector. Because there is no specific physiological response for lying, polygraphy must rely on an indirect method measuring changes in relative stress levels to determine whether the suspect is lying. The problem with this measure is that many other emotional states such as fear or anger can cause such changes. Because the polygraph cannot discriminate between these emotional states and deception, any attempt by a polygrapher to classify a subject as truthful or deceptive is little more than a guess.
DaubertOnTheWeb.com. The linked page on this website provides summaries of federal cases where rulings on polygraph admissibility were made.
Henseler, Timothy B. “A Critical Look at the Admissibility of Polygraph Evidence in the Wake of Daubert: The Lie Detector Fails the Test.” Published in Catholic University Law Review, Summer 1997.
Imwinkelried, Edward J. and James R. McCall. “Issues Once Moot: The Other Evidentiary Objections to the Admission of Exculpatory Polygraph Examinations,” (168 kb PDF) Wake Forest Law Review, Vol. 32 (1997), No. 4, pp. 1045-1081. Abstract:
The Supreme Court’s 1993 decision in Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals opened the door for courts to reconsider the general rule, adopted after Frye v. United States, that held polygraph evidence inadmissible. As courts become increasingly willing to reject the per se exclusion of polygraph evidence under rules relating to the admissibility of scientific evidence, they must grapple with other potential evidentiary objections to the evidence. These objections have gone largely unconsidered under the per se rule of exclusion. In this article, Professors Imwinkelried and McCall consider several “nonscientific evidence” objections to the admissibility of exculpatory polygraph evidence offered by an accused. The authors argue that objec-tions based on relevancy considerations, the hearsay rule, and Rule 608’s limitations on evidence regarding a witness’s character for truthfulness should be rejected. They conclude that the admissibility of polygraph evidence should turn solely on a court’s assessment of the evidence’s empirical validity under Daubert.
Polygraph Law Resource Page. Maintained by Professor Charles R. Honts of Boise State University, this page provides transcripts of polygraph-related testimony and other legal documents.
Missouri Union of Law Enforcement. MULE 57 is a police officers’ benevolent association that opposes polygraph “testing.” The MULE site includes a form which members have designed to protect officers that are forced to submit to polygraph “exams.”
Society of Professional Scientists and Engineers. Provides links to documents regarding the Department of Energy’s polygraph screening program.
Virginia Coalition of Police and Deputy Sheriffs. The Virginia COPS organization is working hard on the state level to prevent police officers from being forced into submitting to polygraphs. Their site has a page condemning polygraphs.