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Technology

Leaked Documents Confirm Polygraph Operators Can't Detect Countermeasures (antipolygraph.org) 125

George Maschke writes: AntiPolygraph.org has published a document (14 MB PDF) on polygraph countermeasures that is allegedly derived from classified information. The document suggests techniques that polygraph operators might use in an attempt to detect efforts to beat the polygraph, but fails to offer any coherent strategy for detecting sophisticated countermeasures such as those outlined in AntiPolygraph.org's The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (1 MB PDF) or Doug Williams' How to Sting the Polygraph. Ominously, the leaked document avers that an examinee's stated lack of belief in polygraphy is a marker of deception. AntiPolygraph.org has also published an older U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations polygraph countermeasure handbook (3.2 MB PDF) that similarly offers no methodology for detecting sophisticated countermeasures (such as any actual spy, saboteur, or terrorist might be expected to use).
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Leaked Documents Confirm Polygraph Operators Can't Detect Countermeasures

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  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @01:26PM (#50941061)
    Really, there is zero scientific processes behind "lie detectors". They are intended as an intimidation tool to coerce a confession, nothing more. There's a reason they are not admissible as evidence.
    • by Raseri ( 812266 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @01:46PM (#50941231)
      Lie detector results are always backed up by empirical phrenological data. Lie detectors don't lie. /s
      • Lie detector results are always backed up by empirical phrenological data. Lie detectors don't lie. /s

        You lie.

        • Lie detector results are always backed up by empirical phrenological data. Lie detectors don't lie. /s

          You lie.

          You have a short brain-case.

      • by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
        Lie detector results are always backed up by empirical phrenological data.

        Reverse phrenology works. "You tell us the truth, or we'll make some bumps in your skull with this hammer."

    • Really, there is zero scientific processes behind "lie detectors". They are intended as an intimidation tool to coerce a confession, nothing more. There's a reason they are not admissible as evidence.

      Well, there is statistical evidence that they manage to fool stupid people.

      • Better than a trained interrogator? I highly doubt that.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Well, yeah. But giving someone an intimidating looking box with a bunch of strap-on sensors is faster and cheaper than training them.

        • A solidly trained and experienced interrogator will get all of the information that he wants out of you –and you will provide it willingly. THAT is what real interrogation is about.

          OTOH, the torture thing (as is the fashion in this day) produces nothing of value, only statements that the tortured person thinks are likely make the torture stop.

          I mean, yeah, torture is a War Crime and all. Sure. To each his own. And don't even bother trying to use moral arguments against torture. All you need do is

          • A solidly trained and experienced interrogator will get a confession out of you â"and you will provide it willingly. THAT is what real interrogation is about.

            FTFY

            The way US police are trained to interrogate people is focused entirely on eliciting a confession. It results in a shockingly high false confession rate.

            • The way US police are trained to interrogate people is focused entirely on eliciting a confession. It results in a shockingly high false confession rate.

              You are spot-on. This is indeed shockingly quite true.

              We differ only in our application of the word "interrogator."

              I never use the "P-word" to refer to US 'law-enforcement' officers. Thus, I do not consider them to be interrogators, because they are not, at least by the true meaning of the word.

            • The person you're responding to didn't use the word "US" anywhere in his discourse. Why did you?
    • There's a reason they are not admissible as evidence.

      ... and also a reason polygraph they're still in business.
      http://www.truthorlie.com/whopoly.html
      http://criminologycareers.about.com/od/Forensic-Science-Careers/a/Polygraph-Examiner-Career-Profile.htm

      • Is it my imagination or does 90% of the list of "non-chart related markers of deception" read as things that an innocent person who's nervous and stressed because they're unjustly accused and having to take a polygraph test?
        • That's not your imagination kind sir or madame, it's a fact. This "device" is less effective than someone trained to pickup "tells". But it's quite effective on idiots and people who don't know it's a scam, and are being told it will TELL THEM WHEN YOU LIE. The polygraph results aren't admissible in court, but the bullshit confession they get from you after 15 hours of questioning, sure as hell is.
          • That's not your imagination kind sir or madame, it's a fact. This "device" is less effective than someone trained to pickup "tells".

            Yep. Learn to read micro-expressions. They are true tells. For example, sudden pupil dilations, flushing, or the few other tells that are autonomic.

            Just don't confuse these with the witch-doctor "tells", such as: "If the subject looks to the right before replying, then he is lying." Ugh. Those generalizations are voodoo, and have nothing to do with human physiology. If your current manager believes in those things, then you should: (1) Exploit them to the max, while (2) Finding a better job.

            PS

            • by twokay ( 979515 )
              Actually I remember reading an article (maybe even from a Slashdot story) about how the UK Boarder Agency has far better results revealing liars by simple asking detailed questions and getting them to elaborate on their "story", rather than using "tells". The idea being that pretty soon they trip themselves up with inconsistencies.

              The border agents didn't need the months-to-years of experience required to quickly and accurately pick up on micro-expressions which can easily result in false positives.
              • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

                The difference there is the right to silence. If you wish to enter the UK and the Border Agency officer pulls you out the line then you have to answer the questions put to you. If you don't you will be put on a plane/boat back to whence you came from, or simply won't be allowed on the train (for those coming through the chunnel).

                If you are being "questioned" by the police you can just sit there and remain silent.

                • The difference there is the right to silence. If you wish to enter the UK and the Border Agency officer pulls you out the line then you have to answer the questions put to you. If you don't you will be put on a plane/boat back to whence you came from, or simply won't be allowed on the train (for those coming through the chunnel).

                  If you are being "questioned" by the police you can just sit there and remain silent.

                  Standard advice I've gotten from lawyers of all types right up to and including prosecutors: Get yourself a lawyer. Even if you're innocent, a lawyer will be able to best advise you of your rights, and you have a right to have one before you answer any questions--and it may be in your benefit to answer questions, since the cops may be out to rule you out--they don't want their actual suspect's lawyer using you as an alternate suspect, they want to be able to show that you were elsewhere.

                  If they try to refu

        • by Sir Holo ( 531007 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @06:54PM (#50943673)

          Yes.

          An intelligent person will recognize when the 'polygrapher' has moved from the baseline questions to the particular 'question(s) of interest.'

          I would notice, and would be nervous simply because of that realization, regardless of the 'true' answer to the question(s). Like you, I can tell an innocuous question from a 'gotcha' type of question, and those things, in such a situation, would stress me out. Just knowing that a trained monkey is firing what he thinks is his secret bullet will peg the body-signal charts. The correlation of my answer to 'truthiness' will be irrelevant to the operator's "decision based on the quantitative (but unrelated) data taken during questioning."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There's a reason they are not admissible as evidence.

      Not in a court of law, no, but they certainly thrive in the court of public opinion. If you're charged with a crime and consent to a polygraph, and the examiner determines that you were being "deceptive," the news media will be awash with stories about how you "failed" your "lie detector test." To a large portion of the population, that means you're guilty without question. If that news gets out before your trial, you're sunk.

      The polygraph can make ignorant people confess, but it's also a very effective too

    • Which is more effective ? the meter or 5 ml of Sodium Pentothal ?
      • Whoever taught you that a space should precede a question mark would have probably sent the traces flying all over the place.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Note that the US Government REQUIRES that people pass a polygraph test to gain certain clearances (those above the basic SECRET level). Yes, that's right. Anyone with a TOP SECRET (or any of the more specialized) clearanced must pass a polygraph test, where they are asked about, well, their general "moral fiber", and whether they are fit to know and keep military secrets.

      TRANSLATION: Only those who play along with a game that they know to be stupid witch-doctoring are allowed to know the most closely hel

      • by jcochran ( 309950 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @07:15PM (#50943777)

        About the US Government requiring a polygraph to hold a Top Secret clearance and higher....

        That's both true and false.

        If the person is in the military, then a polygraph isn't taken. The reason is that duty assignments are considered "involuntary" and as such requiring a polygraph would be unjust. However, civilian employees are required to pass a polygraph. In fact, there have been a few cases where a military member left the service and immediately came back to the same organization as a civilian and was required to take a polygraph .... and failed ... so were denied employment at the very same organization that they just left.

        I used to be active duty military and at the end of my career was working in WHCA (White House Communications Agency). That position required a TS/SCI Yankee White investigation (they tend to be a bit paranoid when you're in a position where you could physically touch the president without the Secret Service batting an eye). It was an interesting assignment, but eventually I left the service and took employment with a government contractor and was required to obtain another TS/SCI clearance. And yes, a polygraph was required.

        The first polygraph that I took had "issues" and I was rescheduled to take a second polygraph. I too had issues with the polygraph since it felt to me that a game was being played where I wasn't informed as to the rules. So in my typical fashion, I researched polygraph technology and found out quite a few interesting things. One item I encountered was a reference to a classified study on polygraphy. I wasn't able to obtain the study itself, but assuming that the study reflected the publicly available information on the polygraph and if I were to be a classification authority, then I too would have classified the study.

        Why?
        Because simply, the publicly available information boils down to this.
        Polygraphy as a means of detecting true or falsehood, it's totally worthless. But as a means of eliciting voluntary confessions from naive subjects, it is extremely effective.

        Notice the phrase "naive subjects."

        Let's just say that on my followup polygraph, I understood the rules of the game, informed the polygrapher and she was the one who had an unhappy time. The results were inconclusive and I did get my TS/SCI clearance.

        Yes, as a civilian employee in the United States, you are required to take a polygraph to obtain a TS or higher clearance, but that it just one element of the clearance process and it doesn't require the subject to actually believe in the effectiveness of the polygraph.

      • by RyuMaou ( 162745 )

        Actually, the drug testing from hair is not at all the way you describe. Residue from the drugs end up in your hair, processed out of your body and the hair grows, and it will detect things months after use. Is it more expensive than a regular piss test? Yes. Is "...the cost to do so would be phenomenally prohibitive"? No, not at all. At least, not for the government.

        Also, there are brilliant people who play by the rules to accomplish goals, even if they realize that things like polygraph tests are ho

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Tell that to the numerous probation/parole departments that use them on probationers/parolees as a means of testing rules compliance. Sex offenders in TN (and other states) are required to take them every six months. Questions such as: "Do you masturbate to deviant thoughts?" are common fare during polygraphs administered to sex offenders.

    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      Exactly. You don't have to trick a lie detector. They don't work in any way or form. Reading tea leaves is just as accurate. The fact that the FBI requires to take one, give me a lot of strong evidence they are incompetent.
  • Let's face it ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @01:29PM (#50941085) Homepage

    Polygraph operators can't detect that the magic devices they claim work are nothing but voodoo.

    The stunning lack of science and empirical evidence for a lie detector "fails to offer any coherent strategy" for this being real in any meaningful sense of the word.

    There's a reason it's not admissible in court.

    Ominously, the leaked document avers that an examinee's stated lack of belief in polygraphy is a marker of deception.

    And what they're trying to do is suggesting their useless tool is an utterly useless tool is evidence that you are being deceptive. So, it's saying "I think your lie detector is crap" is being equated with being dishonest.

    Tell you what, prove the fucking thing works first. What's that? You can't?

    Then piss off and stop blaming your own incompetence and reliance on bogus technology on the rest of us.

    Basically this is a tool, which doesn't work as advertised, which is used to bully people into giving the answer you have decided they should be giving. It in no way has anything at all to do with detecting the truth, and never has.

    • Lie detectors are like homeopathy for law enforcement. They'll keep pushing their magic sugar pills hoping people will believe in them enough to work.

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      In some states of the US, it still is admissible, via roundabout methods.

      But, as my favourite saying - in all CIVILISED countries, such bunkum isn't admissible in court.

      It's nonsense. And they're using it to "detect terrorists". Which thus equates nonsense with what's supposed to be a serious, life-critical, global problem. That's how seriously they take it.

      So either every sensible scientist in the civilised world is wrong and lie detectors are actually NOT a load of bunkum, or seeking out terrorists and

    • Well it works exactly as designed. It measures your temperature and breathing. This has nothing to due with lie detection of course, but the device technically does function. It's the PURPOSE of the device that they are lying about. If they were honest they'd tell you it measures perspiration, blood pressure and a few other things that *COULD* help detect deception. It is in no way a lie detector. The scary part is they are 100% subjective to the person operating the machine, and these idiots are 100
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Polygraph operators can't detect that the magic devices they claim work are nothing but voodoo.

      'It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.'
      - Upton Sinclair

    • Polygraph operators can't detect that the magic devices they claim work are nothing but voodoo.

      Does anyone know how many polygraph operators are also Scientologists or homeopathic medicine fans?

      Really. If such a study has ever been done, by actual scientific researchers, then I would be thrilled to hear of its findings.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    But the idiots will keep believing it works. Or there is a 'truth serum'. Or that the FBI can read minds. Or whatever.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bobbied ( 2522392 )

      Oh come on... Polygraphs are not 100% pointless, they *do* work for *some* people so there is actually a benefit to their use.... Now, if you *depend* on a polygraph to tell you the truth in 100% of cases, you are stupid.

      As with all tools, polygraphs have their application where they are useful and situations where they are not. So polygraphs are not infallible, neither are background checks or surveillance, but we use them. They are all tools with their limitations and provisos which can be used in the

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Beating confessions out of people works too. As does sleep deprivation, starvation, etc.

        Polygraphs are just voodoo for intimidating people. Calling them "lie detectors" is outright fraud.

        Intimidation works, but it doesn't have anything to do with the truth.
      • They work for telling if you someone was nervous/stressed/hot/itchy/cranky/dumb enough to drink the offered coffee beforehand. Some dumb people might confess because you scared them with "science." They absolutely do not indicate whether or not someone is currently speaking truth or a lie... for anyone, anywhere, ever.
        • Re:Old news (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @02:57PM (#50941995)

          I propose a little test then, being you are so convinced you can beat the polygraph, that you take one...

          MythBusters did a segment on this and they where not able to demonstrate a way to beat the test that was reliable. In fact, I don't think any of their "test subjects" where able to do so. Can some people do it? I think so. But I seriously doubt *you* could beat it unless you are a pathological liar who just doesn't care anything about truth, ethics or morals.

          So it's more than just those who are susceptible to believe the polygraph, it does have some success. Efforts to beat the polygraph are largely ineffective and usually very detectable. Most of these techniques take practice to effectively use and even though folks like you walk around thinking you can easily manipulate the test, you really can't, even if you don't believe in the test.

          So, back to my point.. Polygraphs may not be a perfect tool, they *can* be manipulated by sufficiently trained people, they are never the less a useful tool in the tool box of those tasked with securing information and things. While not admissible as evidence, can assist investigators in confirming or eliminating suspects in crimes. They are still useful part of the tools in the box.

          • I've never compromised myself to the point of being polygraphed, but a relative, a friend of his, and a friend of mine made off with a small fortune in total, and were polygraphed, and all passed. This is conjecture, but they had the quality of feeling superior to the companies they were bilking, so weren't ambivalent in the slightest as to what they were actually doing. If you feel morally justified for speeding, you may very well pass a polygraph around have you ever speeded.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            60% of the time it works every time.

          • Re:Old news (Score:5, Informative)

            by George Maschke ( 699175 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @03:15PM (#50942151) Homepage

            MythBusters did a segment on this and they where not able to demonstrate a way to beat the test that was reliable. In fact, I don't think any of their "test subjects" where able to do so. Can some people do it? I think so. But I seriously doubt *you* could beat it unless you are a pathological liar who just doesn't care anything about truth, ethics or morals.

            The MythBusters "Beat the Lie Detector" segment was particularly bad, and the producers of the show should be ashamed of it. You'll find a detailed critique here [antipolygraph.org]. In peer reviewed research on countermeasures, about half of programmed guilty subjects were able to fool the polygraph after a maximum of 30 minutes of instruction, and experienced polygraph examiners were unable to detect the countermeasures. See the studies by Charles R. Honts and others cited in the bibliography of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector [antipolygraph.org].

            • The salient points here is that beating the polygraph takes training... I don't dispute that... However, It's just not common to run into people who are trained and can actually beat the test and the vast majority of people don't walk in off the street and can lie to a polygraph.

              Polygraphs remain a useful screening tool even with training available. They are but a tool which can help in specific situations, limited as those situations may be, and being helpful, they are useful.

            • by Cutriss ( 262920 )

              I was always convinced that the polygraph episode was just a propaganda piece, and that the producers were basically pitched the episode as a hook to keep the support of law enforcement with the show (so that they could blow up more stuff and have access to detonation ranges, etc).

              • The show quite often would start with a conclusion and work back from there. But the fact that they had the participation of law enforcement and the polygraph industry made it quite clear on this one.

          • "So it's more than just those who are susceptible to believe the polygraph, it does have some success. Efforts to beat the polygraph are largely ineffective and usually very detectable."

            It has nothing to do with "beating" a polygraph. A polygraph isn't something you beat or don't beat. A polygraph in no way shape or form tests whether or not you are telling the truth and under normal circumstances it's results have zero relationship to whether or not you are telling the truth. It's just some random coincide
            • Poly's are NOT nonsense, they are very real, they do work in some ways. They are not reliable enough to be legal evidence, but they do provide useful information most of the time.

              Don't fool yourself, they have some scientific basis in their application, it's not all just smoke and mirrors, there are reasons this device works. No, it's not 100%, but the science theory tells us that, the fact that it's basically a human judgment call when interpreting the results says it's not totally accurate. Humans can b

              • "Don't fool yourself, they have some scientific basis in their application, it's not all just smoke and mirrors, there are reasons this device works."

                There don't need to be reasons because the devices don't work. Just like the training for detecting lies using body language given to TSA investigators and police have been proven not to work over and over again. I've devised a lie detection system in which I have conversations with you while you make coffee and covertly take pictures of your coffee. Using sev
                • Seriously? There is a bit more to this than tea leaves or coffee grounds and creamer...

                  I'm no expert, I don't give examinations, but it's not hard to understand how these things work. I don't discount that part of the exam is for show, that the examiners put on an act designed to elicit the responses they are looking for, but the measurements of the physiological involuntary responses to their questions IS quite real, and without training and effort to fool the examiner, quite effective. I also don't dis

                  • , but the measurements of the physiological involuntary responses to their questions IS quite real

                    So you can cite some peer-reviewed research that shows this can you? Thought not.

                    • , but the measurements of the physiological involuntary responses to their questions IS quite real

                      So you can cite some peer-reviewed research that shows this can you? Thought not.

                      I don't have the resources on hand to get it, but the problem is that the same physiological involuntary responses can be connected to so many different things it's not funny--the results can be thrown off by all sorts of things, like a calm person who feels no nervousness at all or the polygraph examiner weirding you out by staring at you creepily.

                      Basically, it's measuring things that many people feel when they lie, but is not unique to lying nor consistently present.

                    • "the problem is that the same physiological involuntary responses can be connected to so many different things it's not funny"

                      Which is the point I was making with the creamer example. You are measuring involuntary responses are generated by many things, a list which does not include deception. You may or may not be nervous as a consequence of lying but it is hard to imagine someone not being worried about the result of the key questions whether they are lying or not. They try to pump you with coffee before
                    • Except I'm pretty sure you've got 'casual relationship' wrong.

                      Let's take the example of burns. There is a casual relationship with 'having been on fire' and 'having burns.' However, there is not relationship being 'having burns' and 'having been on fire.' The fact you have burns doesn't mean you were on fire: they might have been caused by something else, such as hot liquids, hot metal, or corrosive chemicals. However, if you have been on fire, you probably will have burns.

                      This is what's going on with p

          • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

            "Meanwhile, Kari, Grant, and Tory put their lying skills on the line to test mythical ways to beat a lie detector."

            look, those three would not be able to beat a dead horse and would probably lie about it without knowing because of their incompetence.

            and well, god damn, if you can't beat it easily why the fuck would you sentence someone 8 years in prison for telling how to do it.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            Some people can beat the polygraph, even accidentally. Especially if they're on beta blockers. Many can't.

            The greater concern is that it's much much easier to actually be telling the truth and be judged to be lying. And I do mean judged. At the end of the day, it is the polygraph examiner rather than the machine that decides truthful or not. Their results are not reproducible BTW. The machine is just there to intimidate the subject and lend and air of scientific infallibility to what is really nothing but a

            • Not disputing the judgment call part of this, but if done properly, records can be kept and reviewed at a later date and review the testers judgment.

              Like I've said elsewhere (above) depending only on a polygraph result is STUPID. It's an imperfect test and the results need to be treated with a grain of salt. It may raise or lower suspicions but you must ALWAYS work to confirm the test results before you trust them. That being said, if you are looking for the quickest and cheapest way to conduct an invest

              • by sjames ( 1099 )

                but if done properly, records can be kept and reviewed at a later date and review the testers judgment.

                Yes, but research has shown that when examining just a transcript and the polygraph output, different examiners will agree at a rate no better than chance and, in fact, after a couple weeks individuals re-examining the same data will often reach a substantially different conclusion. That is, they don't even agree with themselves.

                That doesn't mean that interrogation can't point an investigation in the right direction, it just means that the polygraph doesn't really bring anything to the party. They could sav

                • Research has indicated that polygraphs are up to 90% accurate. Even critical research find that the test is right the majority of the time (more often than simple chance). The actual truth is someplace in between.

                  Polygraphs are usually never used alone and are almost always used in conjunction with other things to make life changing decisions about people. Nobody I know claims that polygraphs are 100% accurate, everybody admits they are not, some say 90%, some say less but even the worst studies admit it'

                  • by sjames ( 1099 )

                    Without the false positive rate, it means nothing. I can produce a playing card that catches 100% of liars. It says "It's a lie". Notably, it's false positive rate is terrible but it will surely catch the liars.

                    The figures are also useless without comparing the success of a good interrogator without the polygraph.

      • "Polygraphs are not 100% pointless, they *do* work for *some* people so there is actually a benefit to their use...."

        The problem is that you have to know whether a person being tested is one of those "some people".

        • How so? Background checks are not 100% effective, yet we use and trust them to some extent..

          There is nothing that's 100%.. And polygraphs are certainly not 100%, but when used on a group, or even an individual it's an indicator with value. They have their use..

          • How so? False negative versus false positive rate. With a background check, you risk missing something. With a polygraph, there is the additional risk that you fire someone who did nothing wrong.
            • What part of "it's a single tool in a tool box full of tools" do you not get? If you fire somebody who fails a poly and don't investigate, you deserve the lawsuit coming your way.

              False positives and negatives come out of background checks too, shall we stop using them? Of course not. Background checks are still used, but they have limits. You can lie on the forms, mislead the investigators and you may even be able to fool them if you are sufficiently cunning, not to mention that they can simply miss stuf

      • by Anonymous Coward

        If you can't detect between the people it works on and the people it doesn't work on, it is a useless test.

        If you know enough details to know if a person is going to fail or pass prior to the test, then performing the test is a useless effort.

        Say I have a polygraph confirmed to tell me the truth 70% of the time. I test a subject. The polygraph indicates he is telling the truth. Is he? There is a 30% chance he is lying. Let's say it tells me he is lying. Is he? There is a 30% chance he is telling the

        • If you can't detect between the people it works on and the people it doesn't work on, it is a useless test.

          Stop right there... IF you know a test is effective say 80% if the time, it's NOT useless, it's actually a fairly reliable indicator that is useful most of the time. Now if you are saying we should be careful interpreting the results because we don't always know if they are accurate, I'm with you. But it can give you a way to quickly winnow down the likely candidates you may need to investigate a bit deeper than others, when you don't have time to do the same for everybody. Polygraphs are a tool, nothing

      • The people who pass fall into two groups:

        the People who are not worried by the test, because they have nothing to worry about - They are fine
        the People who are not worried by the test, because they can beat it - These are the very people you are trying to detect!

        The people they detect are mostly those who stress about minor issues, and are often the people who are most valuable ...

        So it not only does not work, it weeds out people you want to keep, and fails to d

        • It's not a perfect tool, but it quickly weeds out a whole swath of people who have nothing to worry about and lets you zero in on the ones who fail the polygraph for some reason. Polygraphs are NOT sufficient on their own. There still must be active surveillance, background checks and procedures in place to continually review. Polygraphs just give you a general idea of where you might want to investigate first and can usually save you time and money because they are usually right.

          Nobody is calling it a

          • A Medical test that had a failure rate of 10% would be considered useless...but the failure (in both senses) of polygraphy is much worse than this ...

            A medical test that only indicated the people who had similar conditions but not the one you were looking for, and did not spot the people with the condition in the majority of cases would be never used ...

            Polygraphy is not effective or an aid to other methods, it does not spot the very people you should be investigating, and instead highlights a large number

      • by delt0r ( 999393 )
        No they don't. If the logic of intimidating is good then well perhaps we should upgrade to waterboarding. I hear that can be invaluable as well. How many good people have been professionally harmed by voodoo polygraph people? Not to mention just how stupid it makes the government look.
    • But the idiots will keep believing it works. Or there is a 'truth serum'. Or that the FBI can read minds. Or whatever.

      Or that a "gay bomb" can actually be developed.

      Or that LSD might still, quite possibly be used as a mind-control agent.

      The stupid. It hurts.

  • Find a book called "Big Secrets". It's got recipes for coke, kfc, etc.and a whole chapter on polygraphy: the whole sordid story. I loaned it to a friend that was really worried about a mandatory polygraph for job. When the interview started _exactly_ as described in the book she almost broke out laughing. Aced the test, took the job.
    • Find a book called "Big Secrets". It's got recipes for coke, kfc, etc.and a whole chapter on polygraphy: the whole sordid story. I loaned it to a friend that was really worried about a mandatory polygraph for job. When the interview started _exactly_ as described in the book she almost broke out laughing. Aced the test, took the job.

      Did she lie?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Did she lie?

        Of course not she aced the polygraph.

  • Then maybe I should inform everyone that phrenology has been debunked, too. Can I please get a /. headline?

    • There is someone here at Slashdot who has a bee in his bonnet with regards to polygraphs. If past history is any guide, we will see a cluster of these stories over the next few weeks - then it will die down again.

      • Please, you seem to be insinuating some organized campaign on behalf of Slashdot.

        I'm sorry, but Slashdot posts articles written by other companies. I'm sure if this appears cyclically it's because the rest of the media covers it cyclically.

        Suggesting a coherent editorial policy? Not buying it.

    • You really hit the nail on the head there.

      Or the head with a nail, or whatever.

      Err, wait I am thinking of reverse-phrenology.

  • offers no methodology for detecting sophisticated countermeasures (such as any actual spy, saboteur, or terrorist might be expected to use)

    It may not work against sophisticated countermeasures, but it may still detect unsophisticated ones.

    The argument implied by the write-up is like trying to say, soldiers should dispense with personal weapons altogether, because they can't penetrate the armour of some of their targets anyway.

    • Saying lie detectors work is like a soldier using his finger as a gun. Yeah, it might work if he keeps his hand in his pocket...

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        Saying lie detectors work is like a soldier using his finger as a gun.

        Now that may be a valid argument, but that's not, what the write-up says (haven't read TFA, sorry). The write-up repeatedly mentions only the sophisticated adversaries.

    • soldiers should dispense with personal weapons altogether, because they can't penetrate the armour of some of their targets anyway.

      Except that polygraphs are utterly ineffective in any event, other than as a prop to induce facilitate the Milgram effect.

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        Except that polygraphs are utterly ineffective in any event

        Whether that's true or not, the write-up makes no such claim. The argument they do make remains BS.

  • Leaked Documents Confirm Polygraph Operators Can't Detect Countermeasures

    Well, that's what they say...

  • I wonder how many relationships have been ruined because the show "determined that was a lie" when testing it's guests?

Truth is free, but information costs.

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