Polygraph Examinations Are Not Meant For Entertainment

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Currently, there are several television and radio shows aired which depict polygraphs as a fun, entertaining novelty.

I see polygraphs being portrayed as omnipotent and akin to star-gazing, able to tell the future.

As a polygraph examiner, I feel compelled to dispel the myths surrounding the current carnival-like atmosphere of the polygraph programs.

One such show asked questions of the person being “examined” such as “If my daughter gained 200 pounds, would you still love her” and “Do you consider yourself to be a good husband” and my personal favorite “Have you ever even thought about cheating on me?”

With the popularity of these types of programs, coupled with the  entertainment  industry’s well-documented penchant for producers copying each other’s work, we expect to see more shows such as these cropping up in time for the next ratings war.

Now,  entertainment  is  entertainment  and real life is real life. What is being portrayed in the media is absolutely unlike what actually occurs in modern, professional polygraph examinations. For example:

  • Polygraphs do not test a person’s hopes, wishes or desires. (“Do you wish your wife would drop dead?”)
  • Polygraphs do not test acts which may or may not occur in the future (“If my daughter gains 200 lbs, will you still love her”)
  • Polygraphs are not meant to test opinions (“Do you consider yourself to be a good husband?”)
  • Polygraphs are not meant to test intent (“When you told that girl you loved her, did you mean it?”)

What polygraphs excel at is testing specific acts already committed. For example, polygraphers would never test someone who thinks they might commit a crime in the future: the proper test would be to test someone to see if they had already committed a specific criminal act.

To people watching media-enhanced shows about the polygraph examination process, the difference between wanting to commit a crime and committing a crime may be insignificant, but it is crucial to the successful, accurate administration of the polygraph examination.

My fear is that by trivializing polygraphy, the general perception amongst the populace will be that polygraph examinations are some kind of parlor trick.


Source by Chip Morgan

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