Monday, June 11, 2007

Does The Polygraph Test Work?

It would be great if the polygraph test, otherwise known as the lie detector test, really worked.Certainly Melvin Foster would be happier. In 1982, when FBI profilers thought a taxi driver might be the Green River Killer, local police targeted Foster - a taxi driver - as a suspect. Foster generously agreed to a polygraph test, which he unfortunately failed.
It was unfortunate because he was entirely innocent.

Meanwhile, during a period of two to three years, the Green River Killer murdered four dozen or more women near Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. Gary Leon Ridgway was briefly a suspect, and he was given a polygraph test in 1984. It was determined that he was telling the truth about his innocence. Unfortunately, in this case, he was the killer, and he was free to keep killing, which he did.

In 2001 DNA evidence (and other evidence) finally proved that Ridgway was the killer. In 2003 he confessed, pleading guilty to 48 murders. After more than 20 years, Melvin Foster was finally cleared in the crimes.

Of course, the police never could gather enough evidence to arrest or prosecute Foster - this is usually difficult when the suspect is innocent. But Foster was under a cloud of suspicion for more than 20 years. In 2003, according to an article in the King County Journal, Foster asked the King County Sheriff's Office to finally "apologize and return his rock tumbler and all the rest of the stuff police took from his home in 1982."

It would be great if this didn't happen often, but how would we know? There are other stories about innocent people identified as suspects due to a failed polygraph test, but those are just the ones where the truth comes out. If Ridgway had not been caught, many people would still think Melvin Foster was the Green River Killer.

Perhaps many cases are left like that, with a cloud of suspicion over an innocent person. And what do people think if you fail a polygraph test? That you are guilty, or you must know something, since you are lying. And what do they think when you get the more common result of "inconclusive?" Many think, well, you didn't pass, so you must be guilty or know something. Isn't this what many of us really think when a criminal suspect or "person of interest" in the news can't pass the polygraph?

It would be of some value if the test at least consistently pointed out the real criminals along with few innocent people it wrongly identifies? But in addition to the example above, consider the numerous famous spies who passed the polygraph tests they were given (Ignatz Theodor Griebl, Karel Frantisek Koecher, and Jiri Pasovsky, among others). Many hardened criminals have also proven their ability to lie and still pass the polygraph.

"The US is, so far as I know, the only nation which places such extensive reliance on the polygraph....It has gotten us into a lot of trouble." - A quote from convicted spy (double-agent) Aldrich Ames, who passed two polygraph tests while spying for the Soviet Union.

By the way, most scientists don't believe in the effectiveness of the polygraph test. They consider it to be junk science. Of course it can "work" in some cases. Any lie detecting technique which points at enough possible liars will identify some of them, right? Even flipping a coin will produce an accurate result in some cases.

Is that good enough? What if you are telling the truth? Should you take the test just because you are innocent? Maybe not. If you rely on the polygraph test to prove your innocence, you're gambling with your reputation.

Labels: , ,

4 Comments:

Blogger Maria said...

Nice blog and nice post :).
Accountants in London

February 29, 2012 at 5:59 AM  
Blogger Moe Nawaz said...

Mastermind Group is an executive business groups who works with business people. Mastermind group can work with executives or with larger groups of executives organised in to seminars and or workshops depending on the needs of the client. Some executives might know it better as leadership or business coaching.
Mastermind Groups
Mastermind Coach
Mastermind Strategist
Time Management Skills
Business Growth Strategy
What is Mastermind Group
Why Join Mastermind Group
Mastermind Group Benefits
Business Growth Products
Business Coaching
Business Ideas
Business Coach
Business Mentor
Brand Strategist
Business Success Stories
Innovation Strategist

March 12, 2012 at 5:49 AM  
Blogger Moe Nawaz said...

UK Advice, nationally recognised as a business insolvency and business liquidation helper for business owners and company directors in UK, we arrange a meeting to your office or any place of work at no cost to you. Contact us today at our business liquidation helpline for free at 0800 24 0800.
Business Insolvency
Business Liquidation
Company Insolvency
Company Liquidation
Business Bankruptcy
Winding Up Petition
Company Debts
Pre Pack Administration
Business Debts
Insolvency Offices
Insolvency Auditor
Company Voluntary Arrangement
Birmingham Insolvency
London Insolvency
Manchester Insolvency Helpline

March 17, 2012 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger Iftekhar Ahmed said...

You have created a nice post, i wish you good luck for all of your future post.
Search Engine Marketing Company
Search Engine Optimizers | Search Engine Promotion
Search Engine Marketing | Search Engine Rankings
SEO Content Writing | SEO Services
Ecommerce Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Keyword Ranking
Real Estate Search Engine Optimization | SEO Expert
seo | Iftekhar Ahmed
Web Directory | Business Web Directory
Web Directory | Arts Web Directory
Blogs Web Directory | Business Web Directory
Computers Web Directory | Health Web Directory
Games Web Directory | Shopping Web Directory
Sports Web Directory
Water Filters and Water Purification Systems
Water Purification Systems | Water Filter Cartridges
Ultra Violet Lamps | Whole House Filtration
Reverse Osmosis Water Filters Systems
Water Filters Karachi

March 24, 2012 at 12:25 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home