Most people have seen lie detector tests in the movies, but never in real life. Usually it’s some intense FBI thriller, and they’re trying to catch a bad guy. Because in the movies, good guys are never subjected to polygraph tests. Oh and in the movies, the polygraphs are always completely accurate and 100% certain. If only real life was that straightforward.
Lie detector tests aren’t infallible.
In reality, polygraph tests, which are also called lie detector tests, are somewhat controversial. According to George Maschke, the co-creator of Antipolygraph.org, “The public needs to know that polygraph testing has no scientific basis and is inherently biased against truthful people, yet liars can train themselves to pass.” So yes, it’s not an exact science.
In fact, even Raymond Nelson, the president of the American Polygraph Association, admits that it’s not as accurate as people have been led to believe. In an interview with Business Insider, Nelson admitted that the name ‘lie detector’ is “a term of convenience, not science.” So how does this not-very-reliable machine claim to tell if you’re being honest, and why would a CPS worker want to use one?
Polygraph tests monitor three physical reactions
That’s how they work. In this case, a polygraph operator hired by CPS hooks you up to the machine, which monitors your heartbeat and blood pressure, your respiration (your breathing), and your sweat. All of these things are supposed to respond in a specific way when you don’t tell the truth. Said differently, when you’re being deceptive, your body reacts differently than when you’re being truthful.
They start by establishing your ‘baseline’ by answering questions they already know the answers to, which establishes how you’ll react physically when lying, and when telling the truth. So, based on the answers you give, the polygraph operator is supposed to be able to tell if you’re lying or not. But can they? Can a lie detector test really detect lies?
Lie detector tests are NOT rock solid proof of anything.
At best, they’re suggestions. Because when you think about it, the idea that when someone lies their body experiences certain physiological responses that they can’t control is so convenient. A spike in blood pressure, an increase in respiration, or a marked increase in pulse rate. Such a handy way to catch a liar in the act.
Except for the part where people can be trained to beat the test. And the fact that the test results aren’t always accurate. Why? Because not everyone responds the same way to the same stimuli. And research has proven that people don’t all respond in the same way to the act of lying. So it’s a lot of supposition based on not very accurate data. (Which sounds exactly like something CPS would rely on!)
CPS is used to presenting sketchy data as fact in court.
The fact that polygraph tests aren’t very reliable doesn’t make any difference to them. After all, many CPS workers make a daily practice of taking questionable data and pretending it’s a rock solid fact they can build a case off. So why should this be different?
Join us next time for a breakdown of exactly why polygraphs are so unreliable, why CPS uses them anyway, and what your rights are. Until then, if CPS has made contact with you in any way, you should call us at 866 766 5245. Nothing good comes from CPS sending you letters, calling you, or showing up on your doorstep. But our skilled and experienced CPS defense attorneys can help you protect your rights and your family.