As the author of The Clapper Memo, a book in which I share findings from my exhaustive four-year investigation of credibility assessment technologies, I subscribe to online alerts for articles in which century-old polygraph technology is mentioned. And, let me tell you, Monday was a banner day! Below, I share what I call “golden nuggets” from three articles that came to my attention.
According to a Mashable article, Monday marked the 80th anniversary of the first occasion on which the polygraph was used to help bring about a conviction in a U.S. court. The golden nugget I took from the piece appeared in the fourth paragraph:
While the technology has improved, polygraph tests are still considered by many to be unreliable forms of evidence.
Beginning on the same trail, a Bloomberg article by Matt Stroud appears under the headline, Will Lie Detectors Ever Get Their Day In Court Again? The golden nugget appears seven paragraphs into the piece:
“The political and legal argument some make in favor of the polygraph is that it’s very accurate depending on who the examiner is,” says Dr. Judith G. Edersheim, co-director of Harvard’s Center for Law, Brain & Behavior. “But for a scientist, saying it’s examiner-dependent means it’s not reliable.”
Also notable about the Bloomberg piece is Stroud’s inclusion of news about other credibility assessment technologies, including the AVATAR screening system — short for Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time — at the University of Arizona. It’s notable to me, because I devote an entire chapter of The Clapper Memo to the work of Dr. Jay Nunamaker, the man leading the project at the National Center for Border Security and Immigration (a.k.a., “BORDERS”) at the university in Tucson.
Finally, in an editorial published Monday in the Butler Eagle, the newspaper of record in Butler County, Pa., Nic Landon offered applause for Butler County District Attorney Richard Goldinger and his decision “not to honor the polygraph deal” for a man accused of committing some sort of sexual offense. Though the editorial contains several golden nuggets, one stands as my favorite. It appears in the next-to-last paragraph:
The only current literature I have found supporting the use of the polygraph for purposes of “lie detection” comes from the community of polygraph examiners who, like psychic-detectives, appear to spend their time defending the false claims of magical thinking.
To learn the truth about credibility assessment technologies, including one that’s enjoying widespread use in law enforcement while being kept out of the hands of our nation’s military and intelligence warfighters by top Department of Defense officials, order a copy of my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo.
WORTH NOTING: Today, I also came across a piece by Josh Gerstein. Published under the headline, Intelligence agencies tout transparency, it prompted me to add a comment about government transparency. In case Politico opts to moderate my comment out of existence, I share it below for posterity:
TRANSPARENCY? HARDLY! After waiting almost two years for Defense Intelligence Agency officials to respond transparently to my Freedom of Information Act request for copies of unclassified contract documents related to the Department of Defense’s purchase of polygraph equipment since 2000, I finally ran out of resources to continue my pursuit. Why wouldn’t they be transparent with me? Because they know that sharing the information with me would make them look bad. Either way, they still look bad as a result of my four-year investigation into the federal government’s use of credibility assessment technologies, including the polygraph. The findings of my investigation appear in The Clapper Memo, my second nonfiction book and a book David P. Schippers said “represents perhaps the most thorough investigative reporting I have encountered in years.” FYI: Schippers served as the U.S. House of Representatives chief investigative counsel during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. I hope you, Mr. Gerstein, will read it before you write your next piece on this topic.
UPDATE 2/4/2015 at 6:37 a.m. Central: A Daily Beast article today includes the following golden nugget quote about the polygraph from Northwestern University Professor Dr. Ken Adler: “The lie detector is essentially used in practice as a way to get people to confess to crimes.”
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