Are LIE DETECTOR TESTS a pseudo-science?
Posted: 10 February 2011 02:24 AM   [ Ignore ]
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It’s very popular on talk shows right now (e.g., The Maury Show, The Steve Wilkos Show, The Dr. Phil Show) to accuse someone of cheating or of being a pedophile or whatnot based on them failing a lie detector test.  But all those tests show is that someone had strong physiological reactions to a question.  I don’t see how they can logically move from identifying a physiological reaction, to telling with any scientific validity that someone is lying.  And they’re not admissable in court (for the most part, as far as I know).

Are lie detector tests a pseudo-science, and are these shows abusing it for sensationalism and ratings? 

Should the Center for Inquiry put out a position statement?

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Posted: 10 February 2011 05:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Well, CSI’s Skeptical Inquirer magazine has run several articles about concerns over polygraph machines. Unfortunately they aren’t all available for free on the web, but you can do a search for them HERE. E.g.: “Exploring Controversies in the Art and Science of Polygraph Testing” by John Ruscio
Volume 29.1, January / February 2005.

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Posted: 10 February 2011 06:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It’s widely rejected as pseudo science in the scientific community. (Iacono, W.G. “Forensic ‘lie detection’: Procedures without scientific basis,” Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, Vol. 1 (2001), No. 1, pp. 75-86.)

Talk shows that use them should be forced to provide a disclaimer.  They are ruining people’s lives mad

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Posted: 10 February 2011 06:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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This is an interesting article from UK skeptics: http://www.ukskeptics.com/cms/lie-detectors-the-truth-about-the-polygraph/


It also concludes it’s pseudoscience

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Posted: 10 February 2011 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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You can listen to this 5 minute Skeptics Guide to the Universe (SGU) 5x5 podcast episode on polygraphs.

The takeaway:  The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) called polygraphs, “...completely invalid as a diagnostic instrument for determining truth…”  The NAS went on to call polygraph research, “...unreliable, unscientific and biased.”

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Posted: 10 February 2011 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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This is a summary of the key article from ROCINANTE’s podcast

http://antipolygraph.org/nas/exec.pdf

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Posted: 10 February 2011 07:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I recall in the 60s the owner of a store I went to insisted the employees all take lie detector tests because he felt someone was stealing.  A very nice, but flakey young clerk was petrified and failed it.  That afternoon I stopped by and she told me she was going to be fired.  I drove home, grabbed the bottle of tranquilizers the vet had prescribed for my Samoyed who freaked out at Fourth of July fireworks.  I don’t recall if they were Valium or Equinil, but they were at the low end of the dosage.  I went back, gave her two, and told her to insist that they give her a retest, but take them about an hour before the test.  She passed with flying colors. 

I have little faith in the so called “lie detector” tests.

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Posted: 10 February 2011 09:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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The population you would REALLY want to know whether they are lying or not, sociopaths, would be the least affected by ‘lie detectors’.

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Posted: 11 February 2011 05:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Are you trying to say that people who feel no emotion could slip by such an infallible technology, Asanta?  Such audacious claims!

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Posted: 11 February 2011 05:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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One thing’s for sure.  Calling someone a pedophile on T.V. based on a lie detector test is a CASH COW, regardless of whose life it destroys.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsPUd5OfLi0

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Posted: 11 February 2011 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Exploiting moral panics has long been a lucrative business.

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“In the end nature is horrific and teaches us nothing.” -Mutual of Omicron

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Posted: 11 February 2011 06:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I would guess that a normal heterosexual male who had no quirks would have quite different neurological responses to the questions, “are you a vegetarian? and “are you a pedophile?”  I’m sure that if that were sprung on a non-pedophile male, he couldn’t help but do a bit of an internal double take, and this difference could easily be used as a justification for an unethical examiner to say, “Yep, he responded to that but not to neutral questions so he must be a pedophile.”

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