The Polygraph Lie

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the prime accuser in the Brett Cavanaugh fiasco, took a polygraph claiming Judge Cavanaugh had sexually assaulted her 36 years ago when they were 15 and 17 years old, respectively. Setting aside other facts concerning the case, this appears to validate the accuser, because the examiner concluded that Dr. Ford was telling the truth.

     As famed newsman of yore, Paul Harvey, used to say, “Here’s the rest of the story.”

     First of all, there is no such thing as “passing” a polygraph. Polygraphs do not detect lies or truths, they detect stress or the absence of stress. Type A personalities may respond to polygraph testing much differently than Type B personalities.

     The results of a polygraph are determined solely by an opinion rendered by the examiner, based on physiological reactions to questions. Often, there may be no “pass” or “fail” if the test results are unclear. These are deemed “inconclusive.” I know all this because I worked in Miami-Dade Homicide 16 of my 30 years on the job where I often watched or assisted examiners testing witnesses and/or suspects.

     Later in my career, I attended polygraph school to become a licensed examiner. Now relegated to administrative assignments, I worked nights and weekends in the twilight of my police career as an apprentice polygraph examiner in preparation for my retirement. I had attended at least a hundred polygraph tests plus I conducted many more in the private sector.

     Can polygraph tests be beat? Absolutely, in a myriad of ways, the most common of which is self-medicating. Another is how stalwart the subject may react to hot button questions, or if the subject has had psychological issues, particularly in recent times. Another might be when subjects are sociopathic, unable to feel guilt. Another might be if the examiner happens to be predisposed.

     A knowledgeable examiner could conceivably prepare someone on how to alter physiological reactions before they are tested. Hopefully, that’s very rare but it is doable. It is a very inexact science, but definitely useful as a valuable tool in criminal investigations.

     It was after I had an experience with my teacher/mentor who checked over my charts in a particular test involving an employment application. He declared I was wrong and ordered me to denote the test as “passed.” I refused, quit the part-time job and never conducted another polygraph. The man got the position. Turns out, my mentor was on friendly terms with the company hierarchy.

     The test given to Dr. Ford is very disturbing. According to a USA Today report on September 26, the examination consisted of a one-page, handwritten statement by Ford, an interview and two questions:

     “Is any part of your statement false?” And, “Did you make up any part of your statement?”

     What? One-page handwritten statement? Two questions?  No specificity? Something very wrong there.

     Ask any experienced major crimes prosecutor, cop or FBI agent, the preparation of questions in any polygraph is very important, particularly in investigations as important as this. That normally includes a series of insignificant control questions and then very specific questions regarding the hot-button issue, such as “Were you sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh in 1982?” Or, “Are you absolutely certain your assailant was Brett Kavanaugh?” Apparently, such specific questions were not asked which, to me, sends up a very red flag.

     Dr. Ford faced, what we call, two brief softball questions.  The only relevant questions asked were whether she was telling the truth. If so, my knowledge and experience tells me it was an incompetent and/or deliberately improper test whereby it lends an appearance that the outcome may have been the goal, regardless of the truth.

     Can that happen? It happened to me, but not in the national arena.

     It’s nice to say the witness had a taken a polygraph and passed. It’s another thing to realize there may be much more to the story. 

 Conclusion:  The polygraph test was a hoax. Because if a test is not properly conducted according to set standards in the profession, especially by an experienced ex-FBI examiner, then it had to have been deliberate. Thus raising the question; How deliberate were all of Dr. Ford’s other non-corroborated allegations? And will anyone be held accountable for putting the congress, the media, Judge Kavanaugh and the American people through a nightmare based on falsities. 

7 Responses to The Polygraph Lie

  1. Alan October 5, 2018 at 6:33 pm #

    You ask: “And will anyone be held accountable for putting the congress, the media, Judge Kavanaugh and the American people through a nightmare based on falsities.”

    I believe Sen. Dianne Feinstein should pay all cost incurred by the tax payer (out of her own pocket) after Dr. Ford’s letter was released to the public. The Senator held the letter for close to two months before it was released. All the investigations into the allegation could have been completed prior to the hearings.

  2. Don Mathews October 6, 2018 at 11:12 am #

    Marshall, as you know I was an examiner for about 15 years. I conducted 155 homicide test while I was the Captain, after getting promoted to Major. I was assigned the airport, shortly after I was contacted by Bobby Rojas a Lt on BSO, who wanted me to conduct test for private attorneys in Broward Country who had cases with BSO, as he was ordered not to take any arrest made by BSO.

    At the same time I was working one day a week at Graymark, running pre-employments. During the next 5 weeks, until 1990 I had more than 525 test from both jobs.

    I agree with you 100% that this test given to Dr. Ford was outside any professional standard on Polygraph testing. Asking two questions is total incompetence by the examiner.

    Testing within the professional guidelines means setting up the people with known lies and know trues. Having around 10 questions and going over each with the person prior to hooking them to the instrument.

    In most cases, if the examiner is professional and conducts the pre-test correctly, the person will tell you the truth before conducting any examine. However, there are those who will not admit to anything.

    The old saying goes “You can beat the Examiner, but you can not beat the instrument”

    Great article Marshall.

  3. clearstory October 6, 2018 at 6:28 pm #

    If a women is raped or sexual abused going to the police is often degrading for the women and rarely is anything done. Next C.Thomas would never have become a Supreme court judge if Anita Hill was was a White women. Republican’s have less respect for Black women than they have for White women and that goes for the police as well. The best solution is like in the GODFATHER when the funeral director ask the Godfather for justice or do it yourself. I expect if a cops daughter was raped the solution would be as in the Godfather or worst.

  4. clearstory October 6, 2018 at 6:41 pm #

    Alen; I’am for Senator Feinstein paying for the investgation. As soon as the Republican’s pay for the 10 investigations of H.Clinton regarding Benghazi that found nothing. What Republican’s did to Obama regarding his nomination for the Supreme court was pure hypocrisy .Republican’s can sure dish it out ,but can’t take it.

    • adamsalan October 7, 2018 at 12:09 pm #

      clearstory, have you ever heard of apples and oranges? You can’t even get the spelling of my name correct.

  5. Don Mathews October 7, 2018 at 12:12 pm #

    Marshall, as you know I was an examiner for about 15 years. I conducted 155 homicide test while I was the Captain, after getting promoted to Major. I was assigned the airport, shortly after I was contacted by Bobby Rojas a Lt on BSO, who wanted me to conduct test for private attorneys in Broward Country who had cases with BSO, as he was ordered not to take any arrest made by BSO.

    At the same time I was working one day a week at Graymark, running pre-employments. During the next 5 weeks, until 1990 I had more than 525 test from both jobs.

    I agree with you 100% that this test given to Dr. Ford was outside any professional standard on Polygraph testing. Asking two questions is total incompetence by the examiner.

    Testing within the professional guidelines means setting up the people with known lies and know trues. Having around 10 questions and going over each with the person prior to hooking them to the instrument.

    In most cases, if the examiner is professional and conducts the pre-test correctly, the person will tell you the truth before conducting any examine. However, there are those who will not admit to anything.

    The old saying goes “You can beat the Examiner, but you can not beat the instrument”

    Great article Marshall

  6. Don Matthews October 7, 2018 at 3:02 pm #

    Marshall, as you know I was an examiner for about 15 years. I conducted 155 homicide test while I was the Captain, after getting promoted to Major. I was assigned the airport, shortly after I was contacted by Bobby Rojas a Lt on BSO, who wanted me to conduct test for private attorneys in Broward Country who had cases with BSO, as he was ordered not to take any arrest made by BSO.

    At the same time I was working one day a week at Graymark, running pre-employments. During the next 5 weeks, until 1990 I had more than 525 test from both jobs.

    I agree with you 100% that this test given to Dr. Ford was outside any professional standard on Polygraph testing. Asking two questions is total incompetence by the examiner.

    Testing within the professional guidelines means setting up the people with known lies and know trues. Having around 10 questions and going over each with the person prior to hooking them to the instrument.

    In most cases, if the examiner is professional and conducts the pre-test correctly, the person will tell you the truth before conducting any examine. However, there are those who will not admit to anything.

    The old saying goes “You can beat the Examiner, but you can not beat the instrument”

    Great article Marshall.

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