Polygraph Research

Topics: Polygraph, Lie detection, Voice stress analysis Pages: 6 (1775 words) Published: March 25, 2013
Christopher Langford
Writing II T-Th 930-1045
Writing Assignment 2


I began my research thinking I wanted to find out where we were today in our advancement of the lie detector machine and its accuracy. There was a time it was heard of often and considered quite controversial in its legitimacy. My research took me on a different journey then I had expected. A journey discovering that the Polygraph Machine is not only just as controversial today as ever, but also that there appears to be behind the controversy then simply its technology. The Polygraph Machine was traditionally known for its use in lie detection within law enforcement. So I began my search in the Criminal Justice data base of our school library. I came across an interesting article, “The Truth Surrounding Lie Detection Technology”, written by Rebecca Kanable, a freelance writer specializing in law enforcement topics for the periodical Law Enforcement Technology. Her article, although informative of the details in how the polygraph machine works, what it detects physiologically, and why it might be considered inaccurate, revealed to me there may be more behind the controversial system then simply its technology. She would reference an important sounding entity called the APA (American Polygraph Association), explaining the APA founding, their development, and purpose. After discussing the APA and its extensive research and technology, another official sounding entity was introduced, the NAS (National Academy of Sciences). The NAS reported that contrary to the APA’s pride in their more than 80% accuracy in detecting deception, a majority of the research was unreliable, unscientific, and biased. The APA responded that the NAS findings were confined to a review of the research on polygraph testing in particular, and how it relates to personnel screening. The APA said the NAS relied on 57 of more than 1000 research studies available. The NAS in turn responded that a century of research in psychology and physiology provided little basis for expecting the polygraph test could have extremely high accuracy because the physiological responses are not uniquely related to deception only. At this point a third entity was introduced, the NACVSA (National Association of Computer Voice Stress Analysis), who also bashed the APA as a flawed method and flawed technology. They would tout how they were supported in agreement by the NITV (National Institute for Truth Verification), yet another official sounding entity. This back and forth seemed a bit odd, as though one or the other had an agenda. That is what redirected my research into whom these entities were, and who was considered more reliable for the truth about lie detection. First stop was the APA web site (APA.org). I discovered it was a profit driven business selling technology, instruments, research, and advanced training and education programs, as well as advertising their APA magazine. Their primary customers were law enforcement, the legal community, and private sector security screening. It certainly was official, but only in the business sense. Ironically, in my search for the APA web site, it was paired with Antipolygraph.org web site. A location for message board discussions against the polygraph, most of which was specifically directed at the APA. I then moved on to the first entity contradicting the APA in Kanable’s article, the NAS. NASonline.org had nothing to sell, but rather a non profit society established by an act of congress signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 and extended by President Woodrow Wilson charged with the mission of providing independent objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. It definitely carried some weight in legitimacy, but to be sure it was not a bias source about this topic, I search its site database for this particular topic, and although it spoke about the technology of the polygraph, it made no specific mention of...
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