Limestone Technologies Inc. Polygraph Professional Suite computerized polygraph system.

A polygraph (popularly referred to as a lie detector) measures and records several physiological indices such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity while the subject is asked and answers a series of questions. The belief is that deceptive answers will produce physiological responses that can be differentiated from those associated with non-deceptive answers.

The polygraph was invented in 1921 by John Augustus Larson, a medical student at the University of California at Berkeley and a police officer of the Berkeley Police Department in Berkeley, California.[1] According to Encyclopædia Britannica, the polygraph was on its 2003 list of greatest inventions, described by the company as inventions that "have had profound effects on human life for better or worse."[2]

Many members of the scientific community consider polygraphy to be pseudoscience .[3] Nonetheless, in some countries polygraphs are used as an interrogation tool with criminal suspects or candidates for sensitive public or private sector employment. US federal government agencies such as the FBI and the CIA and many police departments such as the LAPD use polygraph examinations to interrogate suspects and screen new employees. Within the US federal government, a polygraph examination is also referred to as a psychophysiological detection of deception (PDD) examination.[citation needed]



Early devices for lie detection include an 1895 invention of Cesare Lombroso used to measure changes in blood pressure for police cases, a 1904 device by Vittorio Benussi used to measure breathing, and an abandoned project by American William Marston which used blood pressure to examine German prisoners of war (POWs).[4]

Marston wrote a second paper on the concept in 1915, when finishing his undergraduate studies. He entered Harvard Law School and graduated in 1918, re-publishing his earlier work in 1917.[5] According to their son, Marston's wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, was also involved in the development of the systolic blood pressure test: "According to Marston’s son, it was his mother Elizabeth, Marston’s wife, who suggested to him that 'When she got mad or excited, her blood pressure seemed to climb' (Lamb, 2001). Although Elizabeth is not listed as Marston’s collaborator in his early work, Lamb, Matte (1996), and others refer directly and indirectly to Elizabeth’s work on her husband’s deception research. She also appears in a picture taken in his polygraph laboratory in the 1920s (reproduced in Marston, 1938)."[6][7] The comic book character, Wonder Woman, by William Marston (and influenced by Elizabeth Marston[8][9]) carries a magic lasso modelled upon the pneumograph (breathing monitor) test.[8][10]

Despite his predecessor's contributions, Marston styled himself the “father of the polygraph” . Marston remained the device's primary advocate, lobbying for its use in the courts. In 1938 he published a book, The Lie Detector Test, wherein he documented the theory and use of the device.[11] In 1938 he appeared in advertising by the Gillette company claiming that the polygraph showed Gillette razors were better than the competition.[12][13][14]

A device recording both blood pressure and galvanic skin response was invented in 1921 by Dr. John A. Larson of the University of California and first applied in law enforcement work by the Berkeley Police Department under its nationally renowned police chief August Vollmer. Further work on this device was done by Leonarde Keeler.[15]

Several devices similar to Keeler's polygraph version included the Berkeley Psychograph, a blood pressure-pulse-respiration recorder developed by C. D. Lee in 1936[16] and the Darrow Behavior Research Photopolygraph, which was developed and intended solely for behavior research experiments.[16][17]

A device which recorded muscular activity accompanying changes in blood pressure was developed in 1945 by John E. Reid, who claimed that greater accuracy could be obtained by making these recordings simultaneously with standard blood pressure-pulse-respiration recordings.[16][18]

Testing procedure

Today, polygraph examiners use two types of instrumentation: analog and computerized. In the United States, most examiners now use computerized instrumentation.[citation needed]

A typical polygraph test starts with a pre-test interview to gain some preliminary information which will later be used for "control questions", or CQ. Then the tester will explain how the polygraph is supposed to work, emphasizing that it can detect lies and that it is important to answer truthfully. Then a "stim test" is often conducted: the subject is asked to deliberately lie and then the tester reports that he was able to detect this lie. Then the actual test starts. Some of the questions asked are "irrelevant" or IR ("Is your name Chris?"), others are "probable-lie" control questions that most people will lie about ("Have you ever stolen money?") and the remainder are the "relevant questions", or RQ, that the tester is really interested in. The different types of questions alternate. The test is passed if the physiological responses during the probable-lie control questions (CQ) are larger than those during the relevant questions (RQ). If this is not the case, the tester attempts to elicit admissions during a post-test interview, for example, "Your situation will only get worse if we don't clear this up".[19][20]

Criticisms have been given regarding the validity of the administration of the Comparative Questions test (CQT). The CQT may be vulnerable to being conducted in an interrogation-like fashion. This kind of interrogation style would elicit a nervous response from innocent and guilty suspects alike. There are several other ways of administrating the questions.

An alternative is the Guilty Knowledge Test (GKT), or the Concealed Information Test (CIT). The administration of this test is given to prevent potential errors that may arise from the questioning style. The test is usually conducted by a tester with no knowledge of the crime or circumstances in question. The administrator tests the participant on their knowledge of the crime that would not be known to an innocent person. For example: "Was the crime committed with a .45 or a 9 mm?" The questions are in multiple choice and the participant is rated on how they react to the correct answer. If they react strongly to the guilty information, then proponents of the test believe that it is likely that they know facts relevant to the case. This administration is considered more valid by supporters of the test because it contains many safeguards to avoid the risk of the administrator influencing the results.[21]


Polygraphy has little credibility among scientists.[22][23] Despite claims of 90-95% validity by polygraph advocates, and 95-100% by businesses providing polygraph services,[24] critics maintain that rather than a "test", the method amounts to an inherently unstandardizable interrogation technique whose accuracy cannot be established. A 1997 survey of 421 psychologists estimated the test's average accuracy at about 61%, a little better than chance.[25] Critics also argue that even given high estimates of the polygraph's accuracy a significant number of subjects (e.g. 10% given a 90% accuracy) will appear to be lying, and would unfairly suffer the consequences of "failing" the polygraph. In the 1998 Supreme Court case, United States v. Scheffer, the majority stated that "There is simply no consensus that polygraph evidence is reliable" and "Unlike other expert witnesses who testify about factual matters outside the jurors' knowledge, such as the analysis of fingerprints, ballistics, or DNA found at a crime scene, a polygraph expert can supply the jury only with another opinion..."[26] Also, in 2005 the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals stated that “polygraphy did not enjoy general acceptance from the scientific community”.[27] Charles Honts, a psychology professor at Boise State University, states that polygraph interrogations give a high rate of false positives on innocent people.[28] In 2001 William G. Iacono, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Director, Clinical Science and Psychopathology Research Training Program at the University of Minnesota, published a paper titled “Forensic “Lie Detection": Procedures Without Scientific Basis” in the peer reviewed Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice. He concluded that

Although the CQT [Control Question Test] may be useful as an investigative aid and tool to induce confessions, it does not pass muster as a scientifically credible test. CQT theory is based on naive, implausible assumptions indicating (a) that it is biased against innocent individuals and (b) that it can be beaten simply by artificially augmenting responses to control questions. Although it is not possible to adequately assess the error rate of the CQT, both of these conclusions are supported by published research findings in the best social science journals (Honts et al., 1994; Horvath, 1977; Kleinmuntz & Szucko, 1984; Patrick & Iacono, 1991). Although defense attorneys often attempt to have the results of friendly CQTs admitted as evidence in court, there is no evidence supporting their validity and ample reason to doubt it. Members of scientific organizations who have the requisite background to evaluate the CQT are overwhelmingly skeptical of the claims made by polygraph proponents. [29]

Summarizing the consensus in psychological research, professor David W. Martin, PhD, from North Carolina State University, states that people have tried to use the polygraph for measuring human emotions, but there is simply no royal road to (measuring) human emotions.[30] Therefore, since one cannot reliably measure human emotions (especially when one has an interest in hiding his/her emotions), the idea of valid detection of truth or falsehood through measuring respiratory rate, blood volume, pulse rate and galvanic skin response is a mere pretense. Since psychologists cannot ascertain what emotions one has,[31] polygraph professionals are not able to do that either.

Polygraphy has also been faulted for failing to trap known spies such as double-agent Aldrich Ames, who passed two polygraph tests while spying for the Soviet Union.[28][32] Other spies who passed the polygraph include Karl Koecher,[33] Ana Belen Montes,[34] and Leandro Aragoncillo.[35] However, CIA spy Harold James Nicholson failed his polygraph examinations, which aroused suspicions that led to his eventual arrest.[36] Polygraph examination and background checks failed to detect Nada Nadim Prouty, who was not a spy but was convicted for improperly obtaining US citizenship and using it to obtain a restricted position at the FBI.[37]

The polygraph also failed to catch Gary Ridgway, the "Green River Killer". Ridgway passed a polygraph in 1984 and confessed almost 20 years later when confronted with DNA evidence.[38]

Conversely, innocent people have been known to fail polygraph tests. In Wichita, Kansas in 1986, after failing two polygraph tests (one police administered, the other given by an expert that he had hired), Bill Wegerle had to live under a cloud of suspicion of murdering his wife Vicki Wegerle, even though he was neither arrested nor convicted of her death. In March 2004, a letter was sent to The Wichita Eagle reporter Hurst Laviana that contained Vicki's drivers license and what first appeared to be crime scene photographs of her body. The photos had actually been taken by her true murderer, BTK,[39] the serial killer that had plagued the people of Wichita since 1974 and had recently resurfaced in February 2004 after an apparent 25 year period of dormancy (he had actually killed three women between 1985 and 1991, including Wegerle). That effectively cleared Bill Wegerle of the murder of his wife. In 2005 conclusive DNA evidence, including DNA retrieved from under the fingernails of Vicki Wegerle, demonstrated that the BTK Killer was Dennis Rader.[40]

Prolonged polygraph examinations are sometimes used as a tool by which confessions are extracted from a defendant, as in the case of Richard Miller, who was persuaded to confess largely by polygraph results combined with appeals from a religious leader.[41]

Law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies in the United States are by far the biggest users of polygraph technology. In the United States alone all federal law enforcement agencies either employ their own polygraph examiners or use the services of examiners employed in other agencies.[42] This is despite persistent claims of unreliability. For example in 1978 Richard Helms, the 8th Director of Central Intelligence, stated that:

"We discovered there were some Eastern Europeans who could defeat the polygraph at any time. Americans are not very good at it, because we are raised to tell the truth and when we lie it is easy to tell [we] are lying. But we find a lot of Europeans and Asiatics [who] can handle that polygraph without a blip, and you know they are lying and you have evidence that they are lying."[43]


Several countermeasures designed to pass polygraph tests have been described. Asked how he passed the polygraph test, Ames explained that he sought advice from his Soviet handler and received the simple instruction to: "Get a good night's sleep, and rest, and go into the test rested and relaxed. Be nice to the polygraph examiner, develop a rapport, and be cooperative and try to maintain your calm."[44]

Other suggestions for countermeasures include for the subject to mentally record the control and relevant questions as the examiner reviews them prior to commencing the interrogation. Once the interrogation begins, the subject is then supposed to carefully control their breathing during the relevant questions, and to try to artificially increase their heart rate during the control questions, such as by thinking of something scary or exciting or by pricking themselves with a pointed object concealed somewhere on their body. In this way the results will not show a significant reaction to any of the relevant questions.[45][46]

2003 National Academy of Sciences report

The accuracy of the polygraph has been contested almost since the introduction of the device. In 2003, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued a report entitled "The Polygraph and Lie Detection". The NAS found that the majority of polygraph research was "Unreliable, Unscientific and Biased", concluding that 57 of the approximately 80 research studies that the APA relies on to come to their conclusions were significantly flawed. These studies did show that specific-incident polygraph testing, in a person untrained in counter-measures, could discern the truth at "a level greater than chance, yet short of perfection". However, due to several flaws, the levels of accuracy shown in these studies "are almost certainly higher than actual polygraph accuracy of specific-incident testing in the field".[47]

When polygraphs are used as a screening tool (in national security matters and for law enforcement agencies for example) the level of accuracy drops to such a level that "Its 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." In fact, the NAS extrapolated that if the test were sensitive enough to detect 80% of spies (a level of accuracy which it did not assume), this would hardly be sufficient anyway. Let us take for example a hypothetical polygraph screening of a body of 10,000 employees among which are 10 spies. With an 80% success rate, the polygraph test would show that 8 spies and 1,992 non-spies fail the test. Thus, roughly 99.6 percent of positives (those failing the test) would be false positives. The NAS concluded that the polygraph "...may have some utility"[47] but that there is "little basis for the expectation that a polygraph test could have extremely high accuracy."[47]:212.

The NAS conclusions paralleled those of the earlier United States Congress Office of Technology Assessment report "Scientific Validity of Polygraph Testing: A Research Review and Evaluation”.[48]. Similarly, a GPO report to congress [49] on national security concluded that " The few Government-sponsored scientific research reports on polygraph validity (as opposed to its utility), especially those focusing on the screening of applicants for employment, indicate that the polygraph is neither scientifically valid nor especially effective beyond its ability to generate admissions..".

Admissibility of polygraphs in court

United States

In 2007, polygraph testimony was admitted by stipulation in 19 states, and was subject to the discretion of the trial judge in federal court. The use of polygraph in court testimony remains controversial, although it is used extensively in post-conviction supervision, particularly of sex offenders. In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals (1993),[50] the old Frye standard was lifted and all forensic evidence, including polygraph, had to meet the new Daubert standard in which "underlying reasoning or methodology is scientifically valid and properly can be applied to the facts at issue." While polygraph tests are commonly used in police investigations in the US, no defendant or witness can be forced to undergo the test. In United States v. Scheffer (1998),[51] the U.S. Supreme Court left it up to individual jurisdictions whether polygraph results could be admitted as evidence in court cases. Nevertheless, it is used extensively by prosecutors, defense attorneys, and law enforcement agencies. In the States of Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and Iowa it is illegal for any employer to order a polygraph either as conditions to gain employment, or if an employee has been suspected of wrongdoing. The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA) generally prevents employers from using lie detector tests, either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment, with certain exemptions.[52]

In the United States, the State of New Mexico admits polygraph testing in front of juries under certain circumstances. In many other states, polygraph examiners are permitted to testify in front of judges in various types of hearings (Motion to Revoke Probation, Motion to Adjudicate Guilt).


In most European jurisdictions, polygraphs are not considered reliable evidence and are not generally used by police forces. Courts themselves do not order or pay for polygraph tests. In most cases, polygraph tests are voluntarily taken by a defendant in order to substantiate his or her claims.

The Federal Court of Justice of Germany has ruled that polygraph evidence is not admissible in court.[53]


In Canada, the polygraph is regularly used as a forensic tool in the investigation of criminal acts and sometimes employed in the screening of employees for government organizations. In the 1987 decision of R. v. Béland, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the use of polygraph results as evidence in court. This decision did not however affect the use of the polygraph in criminal investigations. The polygraph continues to be used as an investigative tool.


The High Court of Australia has not yet considered the admissibility of polygraph evidence. However, the New South Wales District Court rejected the use of the device in a criminal trial. In Raymond George Murray 1982 7A Crim R48 Sinclair DCJ refused to admit polygraph evidence tending to support the defence. The judge rejected the evidence because

  1. The veracity of the accused and the weight to be given to his evidence, and other witnesses called in the trial, was a matter for the jury.
  2. The polygraph "expert" sought to express an opinion as to ultimate facts in issue, which is peculiarly the province of the jury.
  3. The test purported to be expert evidence by the witness who was not qualified as an expert, he was merely an operator and assessor of a polygraph. The scientific premise upon which his assessment was based had not been proved in any Court in Australia.
  4. Devoid of any proved or accepted scientific basis, the evidence of the operator is hearsay which is inadmissible.

The Court cited, with approval, the Canadian case of Phillion v R 1978 1SCR 18.

Lie detector evidence is currently inadmissible in New South Wales courts under the Lie Detectors Act [54].


The High Court of Israel, in Civil Appeal 551/89 (Menora Insurance Vs. Jacob Sdovnik), ruled that as the polygraph has not been recognized as a reliable device, polygraph results are inadmissible as evidence in a civil trial. In other decisions, polygraph results were ruled inadmissible in criminal trials. However, some insurance companies attempt to include a clause in insurance contracts, in which the beneficiary agrees that polygraph results be admissible as evidence. In such cases, where the beneficiary has willingly agreed to such a clause, signed the contract, and taken the test, the courts will honor the contract, and take the polygraph results into consideration. Interestingly, it is common practice for lawyers to advise people who signed such contracts to refuse to take the test. Depending on whether or not the beneficiary signed an agreements clause, and whether the test was already taken or not, such a refusal usually has no ill effects; at worst, the court will simply order the person to take the test as agreed. At best, the court will cancel the clause and release the person from taking the test, or rule the evidence inadmissible.


Recently an Indian court adopted the brain electrical oscillations signature test as evidence to convict a woman, who was accused of murdering her fiance. It is the first time that the result of polygraph was used as evidence in court.[55] On May 5, 2010, The Supreme Court of India declared use of narcoanalysis, brain mapping and polygraph tests on suspects as illegal and against the constitution.[56] Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution-"No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself." Polygraph tests are still legal if the defendant requests one, however.

Use with espionage and security clearances

In the American military and intelligence communities, polygraphs have been administered both as terms of qualifying for a security clearance and as part of a periodic reinvestigation to retain a clearance. There is no uniform standard for whether the polygraph is needed, as some methods of adjudication do not demand a successful polygraph test to earn a clearance. Other agencies, particularly certain military units, actually prohibit polygraph testing on their members. According to a GPO report to congress,[57] polygraphy in the security clearance context has little utility in detecting untruth, but significant utility in inducing verbal admissions. That is, polygraphy is mainly useful as a prop in the interrogation process. Further, this likely accounts for its continuing use by government agencies.

It is difficult to precisely determine the effectiveness of polygraph results for the detection or deterrence of spying. Failure of a polygraph test could cause revocation of a security clearance, but it is inadmissible evidence in most federal courts and military courts martial. The polygraph is more often used as a deterrent to espionage rather than detection. One exception to this was the case of Harold James Nicholson, a CIA employee later convicted of spying for Russia. In 1995, Nicholson had undergone his periodic five year reinvestigation where he showed a strong probability of deception on questions regarding relationships with a foreign intelligence unit. This polygraph test later launched an investigation which resulted in his eventual arrest and conviction. In most cases, however, polygraphs are more of a tool to "scare straight" those who would consider espionage. Jonathan Pollard was advised by his Israeli handlers that he was to resign his job from American intelligence if he was ever told he was subject to a polygraph test. Likewise, John Anthony Walker was advised to by his handlers not to engage in espionage until he had been promoted to the highest position for which a polygraph test was not required, to refuse promotion to higher positions for which polygraph tests were required, and to retire when promotion was mandated.[58] As part of his plea bargain agreement for his case of espionage for the Soviet Union, Robert Hanssen would be made to undergo a polygraph at any time as part of damage assessment. In Hanssen's 25-year career with the FBI, not once was he made to undergo a polygraph. He later said that if he had been ordered to, he may have thought twice about espionage.[citation needed]

Alternatively, the use of polygraph testing, where it causes desperation over dismissal for past dishonesty, may encourage spying. For example, Edward Lee Howard was dismissed from the CIA when, during a polygraph screening, he truthfully answered a series of questions admitting to minor crimes such as petty theft and drug abuse. The CIA failed to see that the firing was an action that would logically anger Howard, and in retaliation for his perceived unjust punishment for minor offenses, he later sold his knowledge of CIA operations to the Soviet Union.[59]

It is also worth noting that polygraph tests may not deter espionage. From 1945 to the present, at least six Americans had been committing espionage while they successfully passed polygraph tests. Two of the most notable cases of two men who created a false negative result with the polygraphs were Larry Wu-Tai Chin and Aldrich Ames. Ames was given two polygraph examinations while with the CIA, the first in 1986 and the second in 1991. The CIA reported that he passed both examinations after experiencing initial indications of deception.[60] According to a Senate investigation, an FBI review of the first examination concluded that the indications of deception were never resolved.[61] The Senate committee reported that the second examination, at a time when Ames was under suspicion, resulted in indications of deception and a retest a few days later with a different examiner. The second examiner concluded that there were no further indications of deception. In the CIA's analysis of the second exam, they were critical of their own failure to convey to their examiner the existing suspicions that were not addressed in the examination.

In August 2008, the US Defense Intelligence Agency announced that it would subject each of its 5,700 prospective and current employees to a polygraph interrogation at least once annually.[28]

Hand-held lie detector for U.S. military

A hand-held lie detector is being deployed by the U.S. Department of Defense according to a report in 2008 by investigative reporter Bill Dedman of msnbc.com. The Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System, or PCASS, captures less physiological information than a polygraph, and uses an algorithm, not the judgment of a polygraph examiner, to render a decision whether it believes the person is being deceptive or not. The device will be used first in Afghanistan by U.S. Army troops. The Department of Defense ordered to limit its use to non-U.S. persons.[62]

Use with sex offenders

Sexual offenders are now routinely polygraphed in many states of the United States and it is often a mandatory condition of probation or parole. In Texas, a state appellate court has upheld the testing of sex offenders under community supervision and has also upheld written statements given by sex offenders if they have committed a further offense with new victims. These statements are then used when a motion is filed to revoke probation and the probationer may then be sentenced to prison for having violated his or her probation.[citation needed]

Regular polygraph testing is sometimes also used during the rehabilitation of convicted sex offenders. Questioning the offender specifically about their inner thoughts, desires, and impulses is intended to give a general indication of their treatment progress and likelihood of future offenses. Similarly, predatory or violent offenders at some facilities may also undergo testing for involuntary physical arousal when shown provocative images relating to their past crimes. Perhaps the most well-known example of this rehabilitation technique is practiced at Coalinga State Hospital in California.[63]

A significant number of Federal appeals courts have upheld polygraph testing for Federal probationers as well.[citation needed] The most recent decision was by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals regarding a New York sex offender.[citation needed]

The UK will soon allow compulsory polygraph tests for convicted sex offenders released on licence.[64][65]

Polygraphy in popular culture

Lie detection has a long history in mythology and fairy tales; the polygraph has allowed modern fiction to use a device more easily seen as scientific and plausible. Notable instances of polygraph usage include uses in crime and espionage themed television shows and some daytime television talk shows, cartoons and films. The most notable polygraph TV show is Lie Detector, which first aired in the 1950s created and hosted by Ralph Andrews. Then in the 1960s Ralph produced a series of specials hosted by Melvin Belli, then in the 1970s hosted by Jack Anderson. In 1998 TV producer Mark Phillips with his Mark Phillips Philms & Telephision put Lie Detector back on the air on the FOX Network—on that program Dr. Ed Gelb with host Marcia Clark cleared Mark Fuhrman from the allegation that he "planted the bloody glove." Later Phillips produced Lie Detector as a series for PAX/ION—some of the guests included Paula Jones, Reverend Paul Crouch accuser Lonny Ford, Ben Rowling, Jeff Gannon and Swift Boat Vet, Steve Garner.

FOX has taken this one step further with their game show The Moment of Truth which pits people's honesty against their own sense of modesty, propriety, etc. Contestants are given a polygraph test administered by a polygraph expert in a pre-screening session answering over 50 questions. Later they must sit in front of a studio audience including their friends & family for the televised portion of the show. There they need only answer 21 answers truthfully "as determined by the polygraph" to win $500,000. The questions get more personal and/or more revealing as they advance. Most polygraph experts caution that the polygraph techniques used on Moment of Truth do not conform to any known or accepted methods of polygraphy.[citation needed]

Daytime talk shows, such as Maury Povich and Steve Wilkos, frequently use lie detectors to tell if someone is cheating on their significant other.

In one MacGyver episode 'Slow Death', MacGyver assists the Indian tribesmen by improvising a polygraph to weed out the crooked doctor. This is made possible by using an analog sphygmomanometer to monitor blood pressure change, and an electronic alarm clock to detect sweat. To test its reliability, MacGyver asked a passenger on the train a few 'placebo' questions. The culprit was only discovered when he was trying to hide his crime, thus his sweat triggered the alarm clock and blood pressure climbed up.

In the movie Harsh Times the protagonist, played by actor Christian Bale, is caught trying to "beat" a polygraph test during a pre-employment screening for a federal law enforcement job. He stores a tack in the toe of his shoe and uses the pain sensation to mask his true apprehension of certain questions. The polygrapher is immediately suspicious and the examination is ended.

In the movie Ocean's 13, one of the characters beats a polygraph test by stepping on a tack when answering truthfully, which supposedly raises the polygraph's readings for the truthful answers so they equal the deceptive ones.

In the television series Profit, there is a memorable sequence at the end of episode "Healing" where the eponymous character, Jim Profit, manages to fool a polygraph. He does that by putting a nail through the sole of his shoe and pushing it inside of his heel while answering every question in order to even out the readings. This scene is very graphic, especially for its time, 1996. During a voice over, Profit explains the theory behind the polygraph and the flaws he intends to exploit in it.

In episode 93 of the USA popular science show Mythbusters, they attempted to fool the polygraph by using pain to try to increase the readings when answering truthfully (so the machine will supposedly interpret the truthful and non-truthful answers as the same.) They also attempted to fool the polygraph by thinking happy thoughts when lying and thinking stressful thoughts when telling the truth to try to confuse the machine. However, neither technique was successful for a number of reasons. Michael Martin correctly identified each guilty and innocent subject. The show also noted the opinion that, when done properly, polygraphs are correct 80-99% of the time.[66]

In season 7, episode 5 of Penn & Teller's Showtime series Bullshit!, it was claimed and appeared to have been demonstrated that polygraphs can be confused or beaten by tightening up one's anal sphincter. Doug Williams, a former Oklahoma City police polygraph examiner, explained that many large arteries exist around the anal sphincter and that by tightening the muscles, the arteries will constrict, raising one's blood pressure, and registering a lie. It was then demonstrated by having a woman hooked up to a polygraph, having her write a number from 1-10 on a piece of paper (she chose 7), deny that she chose each number as asked by the examiner but tighten up her anal sphincter on the number 6. Doing this on the number 6 caused it to register as a lie, even though she was telling the truth. This episode also touched on people who have lost their security clearances, and subsequently their jobs, due to failing a polygraph even though they claimed to have told the complete and honest truth.

In the season 6 premiere of Psych, "Shawn Rescues Darth Vader", fake psychic detective Shawn Spencer is hooked up to a polygraph and subsequently questioned as to if he is really psychic. It is revealed that Shawn's father, a retired police officer, taught him how to beat a lie detector test by believing your lie and breathing properly. Thus, Shawn is able to fool everyone once again.


A polygraph test has been used to scrutinize six South Korean football teams in relation to a match-fixing scandal. All players suspected of wrongdoing will have to take a compulsory polygraph test. As of July 11 2011, ten players have been given lifetime bans and those who are clean will get double annual minimum wages.[67]

See also


  1. ^ "Polygraph/Lie Detector FAQs". International League of Polygraph Examiners. http://www.theilpe.com/faq_eng.html. 
  2. ^ "Editors Name Greatest Inventions of All Time". Encyclopædia Britannica News Releases. http://corporate.britannica.com/press/releases/invention.html. 
  3. ^ Iacono, W.G. "Forensic 'lie detection': Procedures without scientific basis," Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, Vol. 1 (2001), No. 1, pp. 75-86.
  4. ^ Nitv Llc
  5. ^ Marston, William M. "Systolic Blood Pressure Changes in Deception," Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2:117-163.
  7. ^ The Polygraph and Lie Detection
  8. ^ a b Who Was Wonder Woman? Long-ago LAW alumna Elizabeth Marston was the muse who gave us a superheroine
  9. ^ OUR TOWNS; She's Behind the Match For That Man of Steel
  10. ^ The Polygraph and Lie Detection, p.295
  11. ^ Marston, William Moulton. The Lie Detector. New York: Richard R. Smith, 1938.
  12. ^ "William Marston's Secret Identity". Reason magazine. 2001-05. http://www.reason.com/news/show/28014.html. 
  13. ^ Now! Lie Detector Charts Emotional Effects of Shaving - 1938 Gillette Advertisement
  14. ^ FBI File of William Moulton Marston (including report on Gillette advertising campaign)
  15. ^ Leonarde Keeler and his Instruments
  16. ^ a b c Inbau, Fred E. Lie Detection and Criminal Interrogation, The Williams & Wilkins Company, 1948
  17. ^ Troville, P. V. "A History of Lie Detection," Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 29 (6)-848 (1939); 30 (1):104 (1939)
  18. ^ Reid, J. E. "Simulated Blood Pressure Responses in Lie-Detection Tests and a Method for Their Deception," Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 36 (1):201-215 (1945)
  19. ^ For details on the intricacies of various polygraph techniques, see the Federal Psychophysiological Detection of Deception Examiner Handbook, the U.S. Government's official guide to the administration of polygraph examinations.
  20. ^ For interrogation techniques associated with polygraph testing, see the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute's Interview & Interrogation Handbook.
  21. ^ For more info on the GKT, see the The Guilty Knowledge Test (GKT) as an Application of Psychophysiology: Future Prospects and Obstacles.
  22. ^ "Scientific Validity of Polygraph Testing: A Research Review and Evaluation". Washington, D. C.: U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment. 1983. http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/polygraph/ota/index.html. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  23. ^ "Monitor on Psychology - The polygraph in doubt". American Psychological Association. 07-2004. http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug04/polygraph.html. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  24. ^ url=http://www.theftstopper.com/polygraph_employee_theft.htm
  25. ^ Vergano, Dan (September 9 2002). "Telling the truth about lie detectors". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002-09-09-lie_x.htm. 
  26. ^ United States v. Scheffer. March 31 1998. http://www.law.berkeley.edu/faculty/sklansky/evidence/evidence/cases/Cases%20for%20TOA/Scheffer,%20United%20States%20v.htm. 
  27. ^ (PDF) United States v. Henderson. May 23 2005. http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200411545.pdf.  [PDF]
  28. ^ a b c Hess, Pamela, "Pentagon's Intelligence Arm Steps Up Lie-Detector Efforts", Arizona Daily Star, August 24, 2008. Also in Fox News via AP [1]
  29. ^ William G. Iacono (2001). "Forensic “Lie Detection": Procedures Without Scientific Basis" (PDF). Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice. http://www.psych.umn.edu/faculty/iacono/2001%20forensic%20lie%20detection%20-%20procedures%20without%20scientific.pdf. 
  30. ^ Psychology of Human Behavior The Teaching Company, course No. 1620 taught by David W. Martin, lesson 19.
  31. ^ Professor Martin considers an urban legend the idea that psychologists could read people's minds or look inside their heads and know their thoughts/emotions, cf. lesson 1 of the same course.
  32. ^ Ames provides personal insight into the U.S. Government's reliance on polygraphy in a 2000 letter to Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists.Ames, Aldrich (November 28 2000). "A Letter from Aldrich Ames on Polygraph Testing". Federation of American Scientists. http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/polygraph/ames.html. 
  33. ^ Kessler, Ron. "Moscow's Mole in the CIA: How a Swinging Czech Superspy Stole America's Most Sensitive Secrets," Washington Post, April 17, 1988, C1.
  34. ^ Bachelet, Pablo (October 13, 2006). "Book outlines how spy exposed U.S. intelligence secrets to Cuba". McClatchey Washington Bureau. http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/15754464.htm.  "She first came under U.S. suspicion in 1994, when Cuba detected a highly secret electronic surveillance system. Montes took a polygraph test and passed it."
  35. ^ Ross, Brian and Richard Esposito (October 6, 2005). "Investigation Continues: Security Breach at the White House". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Investigation/story?id=1190375.  "Officials say Aragoncillo passed several lie detector tests that are routinely given to individuals with top secret clearances."
  36. ^ "Dept. of Energy, Office of Counterintelligence". : Harold James Nicholson Dossier. http://www.hanford.gov/oci/ci_spy.cfm?dossier=62#. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  37. ^ Warrick, Joby; Eggen, Dan (2007-11-14). "Ex-FBI Employee's Case Raises New Security Concerns Sham Marriage Led to U.S. Citizenship". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/13/AR2007111302033.html. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  38. ^ "What made Ridgway kill still a riddle". The News Tribune. 2003-11-09. http://www.thenewstribune.com/2003/11/09/366408/what-made-ridgway-kill-still-a.html. 
  39. ^ www.harpercollins.com
  40. ^ Oct. 1, 2005 48 Hours Mysteries: BTK: Out Of The Shadows
  41. ^ "United States of America versus William Galbreth" (PDF). 1995-03-09. http://www.afda.org/afda/news/Opinion_Miller.pdf. 
  42. ^ url=http://www.nettrace.com.au/content/nta10001.htm
  43. ^ url=http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/russ/jfkinfo2/jfk4/Hscahelm.htm
  44. ^ Weiner, Tim, David Johnston, and Neil A. Lewis, Betrayal: The Story of Aldrich Ames, an American Spy, 1995.
  45. ^ Lykken, David T. A Tremor in the Blood: Uses and Abuses of the Lie Detector, 2nd ed., New York: Plenum Trade, 1998, pp. 273-279.
  46. ^ Antipolygraph.org.
  47. ^ a b c Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences and Education (BCSSE) and Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) (2003). The Polygraph and Lie Detection. United States National Research Council. http://www.nap.edu/books/0309084369/html/  (Chapter 8: Conclusions and Recommendations, page 212)
  48. ^ Office of Technology Assessment (November 1983). "Scientific Validity of Polygraph Testing: A Research Review and Evaluation". http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/polygraph/ota/ 
  49. ^ http://www.gpo.gov/congress/commissions/secrecy/pdf/09ps.pdf%7CIV Personnel Security: Protection Through Detection
  50. ^ http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/92-102.ZS.html
  51. ^ http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/96-1133.ZS.html
  52. ^ Compliance Assistance By Law - The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)
  53. ^ Bundesgerichtshof: Entscheidungen vom 17.12.1998, 1 StR 156/98, 1 StR 258/98
  54. ^ http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/maintop/view/inforce/act+62+1983+cd+0+N Lie Detectors Act 1983 (NSW)
  55. ^ GIRIDHARADAS, Anand (September 14, 2008). "India's Novel Use of Brain Scans in Courts is Debated". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/15/world/asia/15brainscan.html. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  56. ^ Mahapatra, Dhananjay (May 5, 2010). "No narcoanalysis test without consent, says SC". The Times Of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/No-narcoanalysis-test-without-consent-says-SC/articleshow/5892348.cms. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  57. ^ IV Personnel Security: Protection Through Detection quoting Ralph M. Carney, SSBI Source Yield: An Examination of Sources Contacted During the SSBI (Monterey: Defense Personnel Security Research Center, 1996), 6, affirming that in 81% of cases, the derogatory informations were obtained through questionnaire and/or interrogation.
  58. ^ Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph (National Research Council (US)), Mark Harrison Moore (2002). The polygraph and lie detection. National Academies Press. ISBN 9780309084369. http://books.google.com/?id=USg-j9esZagC. 
  59. ^ "RPCV and CIA defector Edward Howard dies in Moscow". Peace Corps Online. 2002-07-22. http://peacecorpsonline.org/messages/messages/2629/1008570.html. 
  60. ^ The Adrich H. Ames Case: An Assessment of CIA's Role, Oct. 21, 1994 Memorandum for Heads of Agency Offices from Director of Central Intelligence
  61. ^ An Assessment of the Aldrich H. Ames Espionage Case and Its Implications for U.S. Intelligence, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, November 1, 1994
  62. ^ Dedman, Bill (April 9 2008). "New anti-terror weapon: Hand-held lie detector". Msnbc.com. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23926278. 
  63. ^ [2] Coalinga State Hospital Treatment Description
  64. ^ "Lie-test plan for sex offenders". BBC. December 1, 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6197458.stm. Retrieved January 6, 2010. 
  65. ^ "Polygraph conditions for certain offenders released on licence" (– Scholar search). Office of Public Sector Information. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2007/ukpga_20070021_en_4#pt3. [dead link]
  66. ^ For critical commentary on this episode, see Maschke, George (7 December 2007). "Mythbusters Beat the Lie Detector Episode featuring Michael Martin". AntiPolygraph.org. https://antipolygraph.org/cgi-bin/forums/YaBB.pl?num=1197009999. 
  67. ^ Match-fixing scandal

Further reading

  • Alder, Ken (2007). The Lie Detectors. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0743259882. 
  • Blinkhorn, S. (1988) "Lie Detection as a psychometric procedure" In "The Polygraph Test" (Gale, A. ed. 1988) 29-39.
  • Jones, Ishmael (2008). The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture. New York: Encounter Books. ISBN 978-1594033827. 
  • Maschke, G.W. & Scalabrini, G.J. (2005) The Lie Behind the Lie Detector. 3rd ed. Available on-line at http://antipolygraph.org.
  • Lykken, David (1998). A Tremor in the Blood. New York: Plenum Trade. ISBN 0306457822. 
  • Roese, N. J.; Jamieson, D. W. (1993). "Twenty years of bogus pipeline research: A critical review and meta-analysis". Psychological Bulletin 114 (2): 363–375. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.114.2.363.  edit
  • Sullivan, John (2007). Gatekeeper. Potomac Books Inc. ISBN 159797045X. 

External links

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См. также в других словарях:

  • polygraph — poly·graph / pä lē ˌgraf/ n: an instrument that records physiological pulsations; esp: lie detector poly·graph·ic /ˌpä lē gra fik/ adj Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • Polygraph — Pol y*graph, n. [Gr. ? writing much; poly s much, many + ? to write: cf. F. polygraphe.] 1. An instrument for multiplying copies of a writing; a manifold writer; a copying machine. [1913 Webster] 2. In bibliography, a collection of different… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Polygraph — (v. gr.), 1) Vielschreiber, Verfasser zahlreicher Werke, gewöhnlich in tadelndem Sinne; 2) s. u. Kopirmaschine 1) b) Daher Polygraphie, 1) Vielschreiberei; 2) Schrift, deren sich nicht blos eine bestimmte Sprache, sondern auch viele andere… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Polygraph — (griech.), Vielschreiber; auch eineeigenartig konstruierte Kopiermaschine …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Polygraph — Polygrāph (grch.), Vielschreiber; Kopiermaschine …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Polygraph — Polygraph, ein Vielschreiber, und in diesem Sinne oft tadelnd gebraucht, im Allgemeinen aber, jeder Autor, der Viel über Vieles schreibt …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • polygraph — (n.) 1794, mechanical device for making multiple copies of something written or drawn, from Gk. polygraphos writing much, from polys much (see POLY (Cf. poly )) + graphos writing, from graphein to write (see GRAPHY (Cf. graphy)). Meaning instru …   Etymology dictionary

  • polygraph — ► NOUN ▪ a machine for recording changes in a person s physiological characteristics, such as pulse and breathing rates, used especially as a lie detector …   English terms dictionary

  • polygraph — [päl′i graf΄] n. [Gr polygraphos, writing much: see POLY & GRAPH] 1. an early device for reproducing writings or drawings 2. an instrument for recording simultaneously changes in blood pressure, respiration, pulse rate, etc.: see LIE DETECTOR… …   English World dictionary

  • Polygraph — Ein Polygraph ist: ein Lügendetektor Polygraf, ein Beruf im Druckwesen Polygraph (Zeichnen), ein Zeichenhilfmittel Jefferson Polygraph, ein Vorläufer des Kopiergeräts das Kombinat Polygraph Werner Lamberz, ein ehemaliges Industriekombinat in… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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