by Darcia Helle

In ancient China, a portion of rice spit from a person’s mouth revealed whether he or she was lying. Spitting out dry rice indicated the dry mouth of a liar.

In Europe, during the Middle Ages, torture was used as a means of forcing a person to tell the truth. Ken Adler’s article To Tell the Truth: The Polygraph Exam and The Marketing of American Enterprise states that the practice of torture was rooted in the theory that “the body’s agony would oblige the lying mind to croak out its secret.”

lieEurope’s tolerance for torture declined throughout the eighteenth century. In the early 1700s, Daniel DeFoe was the first to move away from torture by suggesting that deception could be evaluated by monitoring the heart rate. Cesare Beccaria, in 1764, wrote of torture, “By this method, the robust will escape, and the feeble be condemned. These are the inconveniences of this pretended test of truth.”

lie2In 1895, the Father of Modern Criminology, Cesare Lombroso, became the first person to use science as a method of detecting deception. Lombroso used devices called the plethysmograph and the sphygmograph. The suspect wore an airtight volumetric glove that was attached to a rubber membrane. This activated a pen that rolled over the surface of a smoked drum. The speed of the pen varied with the suspect’s blood flow. Lombroso believed that, when a person told a lie, the stress of deception affected his or her heart rate and blood pressure. By observing the deviations traced by the pen, an investigator would see when and if the suspect was lying.

The next advance came in 1897, when B. Sticker developed a method of measuring the amount of sweat a suspect produced during interrogation. This was determined by the electrical conductibility of the suspect’s skin.

The first “polygraph” machine was actually a copy machine invented in 1804. The name, derived from Greek, means “many writings”. In the very early 1900s, James MacKenzie, an English doctor, invented what he called the “ink polygraph”. This was used to monitor cardiovascular responses by measuring pulse and blood pressure.

lie6In 1914, Vittorio Benussi used pneumatic tubing to study an individual’s breathing rates. The device wrapped around the person’s chest and measured depth and rate of breath. Eugene Levitt, in his article The Scientific Evaluation of the Lie Detector, noted that Benussi’s discovery showed that the “ratio of inspiration and expiration was generally greater before truth telling than that before lying.” This last discovery gave scientists the final piece of their puzzle; blood pressure, pulse rates, sweat production, and breathing rates could all be linked to the act of deception.


The polygraph is almost purely American phenomenon;
no other country makes appreciable use of the technique.

~ Gordon D. Barland


lie7William M. Marston (also known as Charles Marston), a psychologist born and raised in Massachusetts, invented the true early prototype of the lie detector machine. In 1915, Marston, with the help of his wife Elizabeth, first demonstrated a lie detection test that used a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff) to measure systolic blood pressure as a means of determining whether a suspect was lying during an interrogation. Marston firmly believed that proper interrogation techniques lie8must be used along with technology in order to acquire accurate lie detection results. (An interesting side note: Marston also created the comic book character Wonder Woman.)

John Larson, who followed Marston’s work, was a University of California medical student and an employee of the Berkeley police department. In 1921, Larson invented the first instrument capable of continuously recording blood pressure, respiration, and pulse rate. The machine, which he called a cardio-pneumo-psychogram, documented all this information on a drum of paper. To be used along with the machine, he also developed an interview technique called the R/I (Relevant/Irrelevant) procedure. His technique mixed questions relevant to the crime with questions that were irrelevant. This was based on the theory that an innocent person would have a similar physiological response to both types of questions, while a guilty person would react more intensely to the relevant questions focusing on the crime.


Despite the use of the lie detector test in police interrogation, the courts did not consider its results admissible. In 1923, a federal court upheld the murder conviction in Frye vs. United States, in which the defendant had appealed on the basis that testimony from an examiner regarding a lie detector test that Frye had passed was not accepted as evidence. The court ruled that expert evidence would only be admitted once it had gained general acceptance.


lie10Leonarde Keeler was fascinated by John Larson’s work. He spent much of the early 1920s working to understand and improve the science of lie detection. Keeler used Larson’s machine as a starting point, eventually designing a new machine that he called the emotograph. Keller added a kymograph, which rotated the drum of paper at a regular speed beneath the pens. He also improved the recording of the data from the pneumographic tubes that wrapped around the suspect’s chest and abdomen in order to measure the rate and depth of breath. The biggest change Keeler installed was a psychogalvanometer, the same device that B. Sticker had experimented with in 1897, to measure the resistance of the skin to small electrical currents emitted through metal electrodes attached to two of the suspect’s fingertips. This last addition is what credits Keeler with creating the modern lie detector.

lie3Sometime in 1924 or 1925, Keeler’s handmade emotograph was destroyed in a fire. August Vollmer, an acquaintance and chief of police at the Berkeley Police Department, soon brought Keeler to William Scherer of the Western Electro Mechanical Company. Following Keeler’s written plans and instructions, Scherer developed a mechanical metal bellows, a motor drive, a pneumograph to go around the chest, and a mechanical indicator to mark the graph when a question was asked. This new polygraph machine was then encased in a mahogany traveling case.


Leonarde Keeler’s and William Scherer’s machine was the first mass produced lie detector / polygraph. In the first three months, they sold between 60 and 80 of these new polygraphs to police departments all over the U.S.

Keeler’s polygraph machine was featured in a 1938 ad for Gillette razors
to show a man’s positive reaction to using the razor.


Detectives Administering Lie Detecting Test to Ivan GrilecLeonarde Keeler’s patent ran out in the late 1930s, after which time the government and private businesses took over in further advancing the technology. The basic technology has remained the same, though the equipment is now computerized and more sensitive.

The use of the polygraph remains controversial. Physiological changes caused by emotional factors (guilt, fear, anxiety) can be remarkably similar to those of deception. Also, poorly phrased questions can be misleading and confusing for the person being tested. For the most part, lie detector tests remain legally inadmissible.


Leonarde Keeler opened the Keeler Institute, which was the first polygraph school.
He worked as a private polygraph consultant until his death in 1949.


Please click to below to view Darcia’s Helle’s previous posts:

“Don’t Behead Me, Dude!”: The Story of Beheading and the Invention of the Guillotine

Aileen Wuornos, America’s First High-Profile Female Serial Killer, Never Had a Chance

The Terror of ISO: A Descent into Madness

Al Capone Could Not Bribe the Rock: Alcatraz, Fortress of Doom

Cyberspace, Darknet, Murder-for-Hire and the Invisible Black Machine

darcDarcia Helle lives in a fictional world with a husband who is sometimes real. Their house is ruled by spoiled dogs and cats and the occasional dust bunny.

Suspense, random blood splatter and mismatched socks consume Darcia’s days. She writes because the characters trespassing through her mind leave her no alternative. Only then are the voices free to haunt someone else’s mind.

Join Darcia in her fictional world:

The characters await you.


46 Responses to Why Should I Believe You? The History of the Polygraph

  1. Pretty good “cut and paste” piece promoting the myth of “lie detection”, but I ask you, “Why should I believe you?”. You don’t tell the truth about the so-called “lie detector”.

    I am the only licensed polygraph expert who has ever told the truth about the polygraph, and the truth is, the polygraph is not a “lie detector”. I have been telling the truth about the scam called lie detection for almost forty years now in hopes of destroying the dangerous myth of “lie detection”. Carl Sagan said, “If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.” I was instrumental in destroying a large part of the polygraph industry by getting most polygraph testing outlawed in the private sector. In 1988, with the passage of the EMPLOYEE POLYGRAPH PROTECTION ACT, administering polygraph tests actually became a federal crime! Even the U.S. Supreme Court refused to admit polygraph results into evidence, and ironically it was the U.S. Justice Department who argued that the polygraph results were not reliable and should not be admitted into evidence! I was a member of the Office of Technology Assessment, (an investigative arm of the U.S. Congress), studying the validity and reliability of the polygraph – our report basically said it was worthless as a “lie detector”. I also testified in the U.S. Congress in support of the EPPA. Click here to read a transcript of my testimony:;view=1up;seq=281 (My testimony begins on pg 275) Here is an interesting piece of historical trivia: When I testified in Congress, I put my manual, HOW TO STING THE POLYGRAPH into the Congressional Record, and the Senators and Representatives distributed more copies of my manual between 1984 and 1988 than anyone has ever distributed – including me! They sent them out by the tens of thousands in response to requests from constituents. But, there were exclusions written into the law that allowed the government – local state and federal – to continue to use the polygraph. They attempt to justify these exclusions on the grounds that the government needs this tool to protect national security and the law enforcement officials need it to protect the integrity of the criminal justice system. I have proved the polygraph is not a “lie detector” – the Congress, the Justice Department, the OTA, and all those with any scientific credibility agree with me – so there is no justification for the government to continue to use it on the pretext that it protects our national security or the integrity of the criminal justice system.

    It is FOOLISH and DANGEROUS to use the polygraph as “lie detector” – the theory of “lie detection” is nothing but junk science. It is based on a faulty scientific premise. The polygraph operators have the audacity to say that there is such a thing as a “reaction indicative of deception”, when I can prove that “lying reaction” is simply a nervous reaction commonly referred to as the fight or flight syndrome. In fact, the polygraph is nothing but a psychological billy club that is used to coerce a person into making admissions or confessions. It is FOOLISH and DANGEROUS for government agencies to rely on the polygraph to “test” applicants, or to conduct any type of investigations relating to national security. It is FOOLISH and DANGEROUS for the criminal justice system to rely on an instrument that has been thoroughly discredited to determine whether or not a person is truthful or deceptive, or to use it to guide their investigations in any way – especially when the results cannot even be used as evidence in a court of law! And it is FOOLISH and DANGEROUS for anyone to believe they will pass their polygraph “test” if they just tell the truth! When you factor in all the damage done to people who are falsely branded as liars by these con men and their unconscionable conduct, this fraud of “lie detection” perpetrated by the polygraph industry should be a federal crime! The protection provided to some people by the EPPA should be extended to protect everyone from this insidious Orwellian instrument of torture! Shame on anyone who administers these “tests” – and shame on the government for continuing to allow this state sponsored sadism!

    So, here we have this diabolical dichotomy – the government protects some people from polygraph abuse and perpetrates polygraph abuse on others! The Congress outlaws the use of the polygraph in the private sector, (and distributes my manuals, teaching people how to pass their tests), the Justice Department argues that it should not be used as evidence in court, the Supreme Courts agrees and refuses to allow polygraph results into evidence, and the OTA issues a report saying all the scientific evidence proves it is not reliable – yet, after all this, many government agencies greatly expand the use of the polygraph to numbers never seen before in the history of the country!

    So what explains this schizophrenia in the government? Why do they outlaw it in one area and expand it in another? I’m afraid I know – I think President Nixon told us why the government uses it when he said, “I don’t know anything about polygraphs, and I don’t know how accurate they are, but I know they’ll scare the hell out of people, and that’s why I like to use them!” That mentality regarding the polygraph is the very reason I do what I do! I educate people about the polygraph so that the polygraph thugs can’t use it to scare the hell out of them – and even worse, call them liars simply because they have a nervous reaction on a relevant question! I teach people how to prove they are telling the truth because just telling the truth really only works about half the time! A person will probably fail their polygraph test unless they are trained to show the polygraph examiner what he expects to see from a truthful person. I have been asked this question many times: Can liars use this information to pass just as easily as truthful people? The answer to that question is YES! I have no control over who gets the information in my manual and video/DVD. But let me make this perfectly clear – I assume that people come to me for personal training because they know that just telling the truth only works about half the time. And, except for frivolous cases such as fidelity testing, or for demonstrations on television programs, speaking engagements and seminars, I will not knowingly teach a person to deliberately lie! Besides, liars can pass easily whether they have been trained or not – history is full of people who have lied and passed polygraphs with no problem. Aldridge Ames, the notorious spy, passed many polygraph exams – and he was an active spy when he took, (and passed) several polygraph tests! Recently, the government said they need to use the polygraph in order “to stop the next Edward Snowden” and “prevent leaks by keeping employees honest”. This reasoning is absolutely absurd! Snowden has said he got that job at NSA solely for the purpose of getting access to that information – information he planned from the outset to disclose – and he passed two polygraph tests knowing what he planned to do. How is the use of the polygraph going to stop “the next Edward Snowden” when it didn’t stop the first one? As a matter of fact there has never been even one spy ever caught by the polygraph! I have often demonstrated how simple it is to “beat the box” on national television programs. It is true that anyone can use my techniques to pass their polygraph test regardless of whether they are nervous or not, lying or not, no matter what. I have said that for over 40 years. I say it in hopes that those who use this instrument will realize that it is not accurate or reliable as a “lie detector” and will quit using it!

    By describing my training as “countermeasures” that people use in order to pass a polygraph as a form of cheating, or something used only by liars who are trying to “beat” the “lie detector”, polygraph operators are asserting something as a fact that is absolutely false – something that all evidence proves is false; i.e. that the polygraph is accurate, reliable, and effective in detecting truth and detecting deception. All the scientific evidence available proves that the polygraph is none of those things. The polygraph is no more accurate than the toss of a coin – in other words it is only able to detect deception approximately 50% of the time. This also means that unless truthful people get prepared to pass the test, over 50% of the time the polygraph con men will brand them as liars just because they are nervous. A sad irony is that often the people polygraph operators accuse people of using “countermeasures” are those who have no idea what that even means! As a matter of fact, polygraph operators are now so paranoid that one of the questions frequently asked on the polygraph test itself is if the subject has read my manual. Many of these unscrupulous jerks will fail or disqualify people just because they are suspected of the horrible Orwellian “thought crime” of educating themselves! But trying to “catch” anyone who uses the information in my manual and video/DVD to pass their polygraph test is an exercise in futility on the part of the polygraph operator, because everyone who uses the Sting Technique will ALWAYS PASS – and the only thing the polygraph operator will see is a perfect, natural truthful chart! As a matter of fact, the information in my manual is so effective, (and because the polygraph as a “lie detector” is so ineffective), the information in my manual and video/DVD is considered to be “contraband” – it is actually prohibited by Big Brother polygraphers in the government! This proves that polygraph operators are today’s version of the thugs employed by Orwell’s Ministry of Truth! The thugs in the ministry spread a new language amongst the populace called Newspeak in which, for example, “truth” is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants – or in the case of the polygraph operators a nervous reaction ALWAYS indicates deception. Polygraph operators, (and the agencies who employ them), are trying desperately to keep the myth of “lie detection” intact, and will do everything they can to punish anyone who exposes them for the frauds and conmen that they are! Click here to read an excerpt from the second edition of my book FROM COP TO CRUSADER and see how far the government will go to punish me for exposing the myth of “lie detection”!

    It is bad, (but perhaps understandable, and even sometimes necessary), to use the polygraph as a prop for polygraph interrogators to frighten and intimidate people in order to get confessions or admissions of wrong doing – but it is never acceptable to take it a step further and disqualify applicants, deny security clearances, and revoke probations simply because a person has a nervous reaction on the polygraph “test” or because the polygrapher accuses them of using so-called “countermeasures”. Most polygraph operators and all polygraph associations say that the polygraph should only be used as an aid to guide investigators, and that the polygraph test results should never be the sole determinant of guilt or innocence, or truth or deception, or whether or not a person gets or keeps a job or a security clearance, (see AAPP statement in footnote below) – but the sad fact is, that happens every day to thousands of people. That fact alone should be the basis for malpractice lawsuits against polygraph operators! Polygraph operators are out of control – they no longer abide by the commonly accepted protocols agreed upon by their own professional associations – they don’t answer to anyone, and they don’t give a damn about the millions of people who are traumatized, and whose lives are ruined by their arbitrary and capricious actions. That is not only wrong, it should be illegal!

    Wouldn’t responsible policy makers in the government stop the use of the polygraph if they were aware of these problems? One would think they would, but the sad fact is they already know all these things – they have known since at least 1985 when I testified in Congress and got the EPPA passed into law. But, knowing the polygraph is worthless as a “lie detector”, knowing that people were wrongly accused of lying, and knowing that many were abused by polygraph operators asking illegal questions was still not enough to convince government agencies to stop using the polygraph. In fact, these agencies demanded that they be excluded from this law in order to “protect national security” and to “assure the integrity of law enforcement and the criminal justice system”. The lawmakers caved and allowed the exclusions to be written into the law because that was the only way to be assured that even the watered down version prohibiting the polygraph in the private sector would pass. Why do government agencies still staunchly defend the use of the polygraph and even harass, intimidate and try to punish me for proving the polygraph is not a “lie detector” by demonstrating that I can teach anyone to easily control the results of the “test”? Why do they do everything in their power to prevent any information that discredits the “lie detector” from being exposed? Why do they intimidate applicants and others who are required to submit to polygraph “testing” by monitoring their internet activity and punishing them for educating themselves about the polygraph? Why does the government love to use this “Frankenstein’s Monster”, (a description given to the polygraph by its inventor Dr. Larson)? And why do they insist on continuing to use it?

    After much thought, I have come to what I consider to be the only logical conclusion that can be drawn as to why government agencies, (federal, state, & local) continue to use the polygraph even though all the scientific evidence proves it is worthless as a “lie detector”. I believe they are using the polygraph as a subterfuge to avoid complying with federal employment regulations! What else explains the 65% “failure” rate for applicants who have already passed a very thorough background investigation? These agencies can circumvent federal laws and discriminate against people, ask illegal questions, interrogate/terrorize them for hours, and use the polygraph as an excuse to deny employment to anyone they don’t want to hire. They can be totally subjective in their hiring and firing practices when they use the polygraph, because all they have to do is to say the applicant “failed” a polygraph test. By simply saying the person has “failed” a polygraph test, government agencies can hire and fire people at will and then just blame it on the “failed” polygraph test. There is no way anyone can appeal a hiring or firing decision that is based on a “failed” polygraph – and those who are denied employment or terminated have no recourse – they can’t bring a lawsuit for discrimination or wrongful termination! Do I believe the government agencies who utilize the polygraph are this nefarious? YES! And it is tantamount to criminal negligence on the part of those charged with oversight of these government agencies to allow them to continue to use this so-called “lie detector testing”!

    • PatrickHMoore says:

      This is probably the most thorough response to a post we have ever received.

      In a sense, you denounce the “polygraph exam” as pseudo-science, in some ways similar to the ancient coercive “truth-detecting” techniques.

      • That is exactly what the polygraph is, even the inventor of the polygraph, Dr. John Larson, said this about it: “The lie detector, in many places, is nothing more than a psychological third-degree aimed at extorting a confession as the old physical beatings were. At times I’m sorry I ever had any part in its development.”

        For a more thorough response, click on this link:

        • PatrickHMoore says:

          Thanks, Doug. You do misrepresent us in your tweet in suggesting we are advocating the polygraph as a feasible means of getting at the truth. If you read our post closely, you will see it is a historical recreation of the development of the polygraph; it does not advocate its use as a law enforcement tool or anything of that sort.

          • Thank you for allowing my comments. But in fairness you do tend to indicate that the polygraph is a “lie detector” when you say, “Physiological changes caused by emotional factors (guilt, fear, anxiety) can be remarkably similar to those of deception.”

            The fact is, all the scientific evidence proves there are NO physiological changes that indicate deception. There is no such thing as a “Pinocchio Response”. And in the interest of full disclosure regarding the history of the polygraph you might have mentioned that it is a violation of federal law to use the polygraph in most areas of the private sector – even asking a person to take a polygraph “test” is a criminal act!

          • PatrickHMoore says:

            If I’m not mistaken, at the Federal level a defendant can request to take a polygraph exam. I’ve had clients make that request several times and it has helped their causes for what that’s worth.

    • Darcia Helle says:

      Shall I shout… “Cut-and-paste”? Or “Shameless self-promotion”?

      At any rate, Doug, thank you for visiting and reading.

      There are times when my fingers know better than to type what my mind thinks. So I shall now politely disengage.

      • Lise Lasalle says:

        I really enjoyed this piece Darcia. It is very objective in its presentation and a very interesting read. I can say that I have learned a lot about this process today.

      • I’m sure this piece of paraphrased pablum is meant to inform the reader and is not “shameless self-promotion” on your part! I mean I didn’t see anything at all about you, or your books, or your website at the bottom of the article! :0

        • Lise Lasalle says:

          I am curious Doug. Did you expect the writer to make up information instead of using facts? You cannot rewrite history.

          • Of course you can “rewrite history” – people do it every day! And one way to “rewrite history” is to leave out important parts of it. And the parts that Darcia left out are what I am trying to tell.

            It is easy to “rewrite history”, but it is much more difficult to make history – that’s what I have done and am doing every day! Please take the time to read what I have posted and you will see how much of the history of the polygraph has not been told.

            Darcia asks “Why should I believe you?” And I say we shouldn’t unless it is the WHOLE truth. A person should only believe the truth, and writers claiming to tell “The history of the polygraph” should only tell “the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth”.

            Here is an example of a more truthful “history of the polygraph”:

          • PatrickHMoore says:

            Doug, You sound a wee bit hysterical and unrealistic. The all-or-nothing approach is fine for certain individuals but not everyone is interested in that degree of single-minded focus.

    • Rick says:

      Doug – I recently experienced the government’s schizophrenic attitude toward polygraph testing, when I attempted to use it offensively to show that my client was an innocent spouse and should not be held liable for the taxes and penalties due to her husband’s failure to report and to pay income taxes on $50 million of funds that he had deposited in offshore bank accounts. The IRS refused to consider our tender of the polygraph examination that my client had “passed” on the ground that polygraph evidence is inadmissible in the federal courts and is unreliable.

      I countered that the DOD, CIA, NSA, FBI and many other alphabetic agencies use polygraph testing in screening their employees for “national security” so that what’s good for the sauce should be good for the gander. See Giannelli, Paul C., The Supreme Court’s ‘Criminal’ Daubert Cases, Seton Hall Law Review, Vol. 33, Iss. 4, Article 7, 1071, 1093-94 (2003), available at (“The very government that argued against polygraph evidence nevertheless spends millions of dollars each year running the Defense Polygraph Institute, sponsors research on the technique, and employs the technique both in and outside of the criminal system”); see also United States v. Scheffer, 523 U.S. 303, at 318 (“ . . . as Justice Stevens points out, there is much inconsistency between the Government’s extensive use of polygraphs to make vital security determinations and the argument it makes here, stressing the inaccuracy of these tests.”) (Kennedy, J., concurring). That argument unfortunately went nowhere with the tax bureaucrats.

      I also pointed out that polygraph evidence is no less accurate than psychiatric testimony about a defendant’s “future dangerousness” in death penalty cases, Barefoot v. Estelle, 463 U.S. 880, 919 (1983) (in an amicus brief in that case, the American Psychiatric Association stated that research in the area suggested that “psychiatric predictions of long-term dangerousness are wrong in at least two out of every three cases”); and testimony as to a defendant’s hypnotically-refreshed memory, Rock v. Arkansas, 483 U.S. 44 (1987), which the Supreme Court permitted. For that matter, polygraph evidence certainly cannot be any less reliable than reading tea leaves or the entrails of slaughtered animals. :)

      By the way, the IRS attorney assigned to my client’s case pointed me to the case of Chad Dixon, a 34-year old Indiana man who on September 6, 2013, was sentenced to 8 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $17,091.07 for his role in a scheme to deceive the federal government during polygraph examinations conducted as part of federal security background investigations. United States v. Dixon, Crim. No. 1:12-CR-521 (E.D.Va.) (this is the most conservative judicial district in the U.S. and where most major defense contractors are headquartered). Mr. Dixon apparently had taught customers how to “beat” polygraph examinations and to engage in “countermeasures” to conceal material lies. See In that case, the government alleged that Mr. Dixon trained several convicted sex offenders who were on probation or supervised release and subject to regular polygraph examinations to “assure” that they would not recidivate how to “beat” their exams. In researching the Dixon case, I came across an article from the website of famed constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley which stated that the business records of both you and Mr. Dixon were seized and that those records contained the names of as many as 5,000 persons who sought advice from the two of you. See Thus, based on the witchhunt that the Feds apparently are conducting of you and your business and their obvious attempt to shut it down, I fully understand your rancor in discussing this issue.

      I am a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Tax Division, and am now in private practice defending clients who have civil or criminal tax problems. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need legal advice.

      Richard G. Stack, Esq.
      Brager Tax Law Group, A P.C.
      Telephone: (310) 208-6200
      Facsimile: (310) 478-8030
      Solutions to IRS and State Tax Problems

      • Mr. Stack:

        Thanks for the post and for your offer of help – I’ll keep your information handy in case I need it.

        But I would describe myself as righteously indignant rather than rancorous – I think the term rancorous is better used to describe polygraph operators and the government agencies who use them. What could be more rancorous than their attempt to imprison me for telling the truth about their so-called “lie detector”.

        Come to think of it, it is the ultimate irony for a lie detector operator to object to the truth!

        • Rick says:

          Doug – Good luck to you. In this “opposite” world of ours, where white is black, right is wrong, and war is peace, I’m not surprised that the Feds have gone after you, since you dare to tell the truth. We have always been at war with Oceania, haven’t we?

          • Rick – Thank you sir – I’m glad there are still attorneys like you who will champion the rights of those who are persecuted/prosecuted by our out of control government! Yes, we have always been at war with Oceania, but believe me it is much easier to pick a fight with BIG BROTHER when you are 35, than it is to continue it when you are 68. Keep up the good fight, but take care… BIG BROTHER IS ALWAYS WATCHING…


          • Rick says:

            Quite right, Doug. And remember that Big Brother is our “friend” . . . and always looking out for our interests.

  2. Darcia Helle says:

    Oh, Doug. Really. I am so past getting riled by people like you. Have you nothing better to do?

    I have learned some valuable lessons in life that I will happily share:

    1. You do not draw people to your side by dragging them by the hair or kicking them in the face.

    2. Raising your voice, and rude, long-winded attacks don’t make you more right, only more irritating.

    3. Before anyone will respect your beliefs, they must respect you.

    I have no links to this information in order to prove I’m right. For that I apologize.

    And now I will happily move on with my evening.

    • PatrickHMoore says:

      Wise advice from a wise woman. As an aside, it is odd that someone would get so riled up over polygraph exams given that they are not admissible evidence. What’s the big deal?

  3. Patrick – No one has ever achieved anything of lasting value without a “single-minded focus”! And while my fight to destroy the use of the insidious Orwellian instrument of torture known as the polygraph may seem “unrealistic” to you, allow me to point out that when I said I was going to outlaw all use of the polygraph in the private sector they said the same thing then. But in 1988 the EMPLOYEE POLYGRAPH PROTECTION ACT became a federal law, and that which was thought to be “unrealistic” became a reality!

    As to my being “hysterical”, let me assure you that my hysteria can’t hold a candle to the hysteria suffered by the millions of people who have suffered the loss of their freedom, or their jobs at the hands of the thugs who administer these polygraph “tests”. I wonder how “hysterical” you would be if you were one of these victims…

    There are millions of people who have been falsely branded as liars, simply because they had a nervous reaction when they answered a question. They have had their lives ruined because they believed the lie that the polygraph was reliable and accurate as a “lie detector”, and that the polygrapher was an honorable professional who would treat them fairly. They found out the hard way that the polygrapher was just an interrogator – that the polygraph was just a prop he used to frighten and intimidate them. And worse yet, that the polygrapher could accuse them of lying without any evidence to prove that accusation and they could not challenge or appeal his decision! That’s not fair, it is not the way things should be done in this country, but that’s the way it is and it will continue until some “hysterical and unrealistic”, crazy crusader stops it!

  4. Rick says:

    Darcia — As usual, I enjoyed your thoughtful, historical post on the polygraph. For what it’s worth, I never interpreted your post as either advocating or disagreeing with the use of polygraph tests.

    • PatrickHMoore says:

      I don’t think any of us did except for Mr. Williams. I think the rest of us were simply happy to learn about this interesting topic.

      • Darcia Helle says:

        Patrick, I did not expect this simple post to cause such commotion here on your blog. I guess we never can predict what will stir up emotions! Thanks for sticking up for me. :)

        • PatrickHMoore says:

          I know. We were all amazed by Mr. William’s shall we say “dramatic” response to what was a balanced and informative historical crime post. You’re absolutely right, though. You never know how people are going to react to even seemingly rather innocent posts.

    • Darcia Helle says:

      Thank you, Rick. I appreciate that.

      • Darcia: I apologize for my rude remarks about your article. You were only repeating the often told tale of what passes for the commonly held version of the history of the polygraph. I should have simply said I would like to amplify your article with some additional facts concerning that history. I am, as Patrick has said, “hysterical” when it comes to this – I have heard literally tens of thousands of horror stories from polygraph victims. I have been fighting the dangerous myth of lie detection for almost forty years and it has made me crazier than I already was.

        If you will email me at I’ll give you a complimentary copy of my book FROM COP TO CRUSADER: THE STORY OF MY FIGHT AGAINST THE DANGEROUS MYTH OF “LIE DETECTION”. Consider it a peace offering… You can even feel free to crucify my pathetic attempt at writing if you would like to review it on your blog

        An old goat with an attitude…
        Doug Williams

  5. Peter Prasad says:

    Ever attorney has an angle. Every client is innocent of something. We think the law impartial, until a judge asks us for a donation. A wonderful state of affairs because we made it this way. I liked Darcia’s article – she is guilty of nothing more than entertaining me.

  6. Bob Couttie says:

    Gien the accuracy of the polygraph wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper to just toss a coin?

  7. […] Why Should I Believe You? The History of the Polygraph […]

  8. […] Why Should I Believe You? The History of the Polygraph […]

  9. […] Why Should I Believe You? The History of the Polygraph […]

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