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From: Tom ZeCat (z-cat.vegsource.com)
Subject:         ban the polygraph
Date: November 14, 2007 at 12:26 pm PST

The use of the polygraph to determine if someone is lying is pseudoscience. The Employee Polygraph Protection Act banned most uses of the instument by employers, and polygraph results are inadmissable in court. However, a polygraph can still be used in police investigations and the government can use it on government employees. There are some exceptions in the State of New Mexico where a polygraph can be used.

A polygraph examination is pseudoscience with no more validity than an astrological forecast. Its use needs to be banned for anything other than novelty/recreational purposes. In other words, people should have the right to use a Ouija board for fun, but such a thing should never be used for determining truth -- same deal with a polygraph.

Some quotes:
National Academy of Sciences:
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 of low quality. It is interesting to note that, so far, no scientific study has been published that offers convincing evidence of the validity of the polygraph test.

From http://skepdic.com:
When a person lies it is assumed that these physiological changes occur in such a way that a trained expert can detect whether the person is lying. Is there a scientific formula or law which establishes a regular correlation between such physiological changes and lying? No. Is there any scientific evidence that polygraph experts can detect lies using their machine at a significantly better rate than non-experts using other methods? No. There are no machines and no experts that can detect with a high degree of accuracy when people, selected randomly, are lying and when they are telling the truth.

From: http://antipolygraph.org/
The dirty little secret behind the polygraph is that the "test" depends on trickery, not science. The person being "tested" is not supposed to know that while the polygraph operator declares that all questions must be answered truthfully, warning that the slightest hint of deception will be detected, he secretly assumes that denials in response to certain questions -- called "control" questions -- will be less than truthful. An example of a commonly used control question is, "Did you ever lie to get out of trouble?" The polygrapher steers the examinee into a denial by warning, for example, that anyone who would do so is the same kind of person who would commit the kind of behavior that is under investigation and then lie about it. But secretly, it is assumed that everyone has lied to get out of trouble.

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