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60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate! (Read 30262 times)
Paste User Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Nov 8th, 2003 at 6:07am
Mark & Quote Quote 
The Connecticut State Police have provided the following statistics in a "Selection Process Update":

Quote:
As of August 27, 2003, all of the six hundred seventy three (673) candidates scheduled for polygraph examinations have completed it.  Two hundred twenty seven (227) applicants passing the polygraph have proceeded to the background investigation phase of the selection process.  One hundred five (105) polygraph reports have yet to be evaluated.


Excluding the 105 polygraph reports not yet evaluated, 227 out of 568, or 40%, passed. The remaining 341, or 60%, failed!

Note that the polygraph is the fourth step in the Connecticut State Police selection process. Those 60% of applicants who are being branded as liars have all passed a written examination, a physical fitness assessment, and an observational test.

Given that polygraph screening is completely invalid (as confirmed by the National Academy of Sciences in its landmark report, The Polygraph and Lie Detection, it is clear that the CSP is falsely branding large numbers of truthful, qualified applicants as liars and wrongly disqualifying them from employment.
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« Last Edit: Nov 8th, 2003 at 6:44am by George W. Maschke »  

George W. Maschke
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60% is an insane number of people to be DQ'd....
Reply #1 - Nov 10th, 2003 at 12:40am
Mark & Quote Quote 
It's very hard for me to believe that 60% of those applicants were lying about relevant issues. I'm trying to find out right now how much of an impact these results are going to have on DQ'd applicants, since many municipal departments in Connecticut use the state police examiners for their tests.

If anybody lives in the area and knows, I'd appreciate the info. Smiley
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Re: 60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Reply #2 - May 25th, 2004 at 9:34pm
Mark & Quote Quote 
One of the things you also need to consider is that a polygraph can register a false lie. This would be the case if an applicant is extremely nervous about the test, even if they are telling the truth the examiner might see it as a lie. Remember a polygraph only reports physical readings such as pulse, breathing rate, and i think sweat (though im not sure). Also the polygraph can reveal if an applicant has lied about taking drugs. Some left out of the first message is Test 1 is a written test and only applies to remembering details and such, the second test is a physical test, and the third is an observation test about your judgement skills. The fourth exam is the polygraph, which is really the first real exam of teh moral character of the applicant. The fifth step is actually the background investigation of the candidate. Do i agree that the failure rate is extremely high... yes, is it all because of the examiners... i would certainly hope not. The CSP are one of the oldest State Police organizations in the country and I beleive they are doing an excellent job.
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Re: 60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Reply #3 - May 25th, 2004 at 11:23pm
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Jon V,

Your post is so full of contradicting statements......I don't know where to begin.

Ok, I'll try.

First you state:

Quote:
One of the things you also need to consider is that a polygraph can register a false lie.


then you follow it up with:

Quote:
Remember a polygraph only reports physical readings such as pulse, breathing rate, and i think sweat (though im not sure).


Ok Jon, which is it?  

Then in the very next sentence you write:

Quote:
Also the polygraph can reveal if an applicant has lied about taking drugs.


Jon, you sound a little confused.  If there was ever a person on these boards that needs to read TLBTLD, it is you.  Does it sound reasonable that nearly 2/3 of all the examinees that took the polygraph failed it?  What is wrong with this picture?  Are all of these hundreds of applicants that failed the exam lying scum that are obviously hiding something?  If there were some sort of actual PROOF that these applicants were indeed liers, then I wouldn't have any problem DQ'ing them from the process.  The fact remains that they were eliminated from the possibility of getting the job because of the police department's wholehearted belief in this pseudo-science called the polygraph.  

Time to wake up Jon.

Kona
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Re: 60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Reply #4 - May 26th, 2004 at 3:16am
Mark & Quote Quote 
Ok I will conceed that my previous message may have seemed a little confusing (especially in re-reading it myself) Let me try to make some sense of it.

1) I do believe that 2/3 of the people failing the polygraph does sound high

2) There are certain actions that an examinee can take if they believe the test was either conducted incorrectly or if there was some other stressor that may have caused a problem. These are the following:
     a) Request a second examination
     b)retain an independent examiner for a second opinion
     c)file a complaint with a state licensing board
     d)file a complaint with the Department of Labor under EPPA
     e)file a request for the assistance of the American Polygraph Association
 
     Also at the bottom of the slections page (going back to the main focus of this thread regarding the CSP) it states "Candidates who are not selected for employment, are welcome to
reapply and undergo retesting in any subsequent process."

3) The debate is still on as to whether or not the polygraph is actually reliable or not. The previous statement made by George W. Maschke "Given that polygraph screening is completely invalid " is completely wrong. In reading the information in the link he provided I found this statement :

RELIABILITY, ACCURACY, AND VALIDITY
Psychophysiological testing, like all diagnostic activities, involves using specific observations to ascertain underlying, less readily observable, characteristics. Polygraph testing, for example, is used as a direct measure of physiological responses and as an indirect indicator of whether an examinee is telling the truth. Claims about the quantity or attribute being measured are scientifically justified to the degree that the measures are reliable and valid with respect to the target quantities or attributes.

I will again admit that there are people that mail fail a polygraph due to other reasons (as also stated in the article). These reasons may include being physically ill, or undergoing family problems. BUT The examinee can request to be retested.  http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun98/lie.html has some more interesting information on how it can go either way. http://www.polygraph.org/validityresearch.htm also contains some info about the validity.

4) This point probably comes to the core of everybodies arguments, I have read it in a few previous posts. The test can only be as good as the user. Although the examiner is run through a training course which runs about 400 hours . As a comparisson if you were to get into a Motor Vehicle Accident and become seriously injured the EMT-B that might be working on you would ahve at most 194 hours of training (in Michigan with a national average of about 120-130 hours). Naturally mistakes can be made, humans are flawed it is in our nature.

5) Everything is open to interpretation. There are many theories regarding our own universe. Does it really go on forever or is there an end. Or if you are more Quantum Mechanically inclined... is there 1 universe or a Multiverse. Psychology, forensics, or religion is all open to interpretation. There are differing views on psychological diseases. Psychologists can argue whether or not a patient really has a disease or not. Forensics can argue about how many points on a fingerprint constitute an exact match. Physics... is there one universe or many.

Anyway... a really, really, really long story short there is evidence going both ways. Most of the evidence that I have seen tends to lean slightly more toward reliable than not, agian with there being many factors.  There was a time (and probably still is) that psychology was considered a pseudo-science.

This is all I have to say, I just wanted to clarify my point while I had some more time. I frankly don't care whether you agree with me or not, everyone is entitled to their opinion.
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Re: 60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Reply #5 - May 26th, 2004 at 10:12am
Mark & Quote Quote 
George W. Maschke wrote on Nov 8th, 2003 at 6:07am:
The Connecticut State Police have provided the following statistics in a "Selection Process Update":


Excluding the 105 polygraph reports not yet evaluated, 227 out of 568, or 40%, passed. The remaining 341, or 60%, failed!

Note that the polygraph is the fourth step in the Connecticut State Police selection process. Those 60% of applicants who are being branded as liars have all passed a written examination, a physical fitness assessment, and an observational test.

Given that polygraph screening is completely invalid (as confirmed by the National Academy of Sciences in its landmark report, The Polygraph and Lie Detection, it is clear that the CSP is falsely branding large numbers of truthful, qualified applicants as liars and wrongly disqualifying them from employment.


My two cents...    Roll Eyes

In my experience, 50% to 60% of the applicants for the police departments I have worked with do fail the polygraph examination.  However, of those 50% to 60%, more than 85% admit/confess to disqualifying information not previously uncovered during background investigation.

I'm afraid as long as pre-employment examiners are consistantly turning in those sorts of numbers, your arguement that 50% + failure rates are unacceptable will continue to fall on deaf ears in the law enforcement and intelligence communities...

Poly Cop

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Re: 60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Reply #6 - May 26th, 2004 at 10:50am
Mark & Quote Quote 
Quote:
My two cents...    Roll Eyes

In my experience, 50% to 60% of the applicants for the police departments I have worked with do fail the polygraph examination.  However, of those 50% to 60%, more than 85% admit/confess to disqualifying information not previously uncovered during background investigation.

I'm afraid as long as pre-employment examiners are consistantly turning in those sorts of numbers, your arguement that 50% + failure rates are unacceptable will continue to fall on deaf ears in the law enforcement and intelligence communities...

Poly Cop




That's SUCH a bullshit argument. If 100% of people who are administered polys were told they "failed" and subsequently interrogated, 85% of all applicants would "admit" to something, and the polygraphers could then boast much higher numbers.

The problem with that theory is that, of the 15% that didn't admit to squat, how many of those people were lying? YOU DON'T KNOW BECAUSE THIS PSEUDO-SCIENCE CAN'T TELL YOU!

In the meantime, someone that lied about smoking pot once or twice, or someone that shot up pharmacist prescribed steroids 15 years ago in Germany where its legal, or someone that committed some other minor transgression in their life (as every last human has or will eventually have) get's eliminated. And this is regardless of how good a person he or she may be, their qualifications, or extenuating circumstances.

The polygraph can not look into a persons soul and determine their validity. It's not even a good indicator of how strong an individual's "moral compass" is ...
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Re: 60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Reply #7 - May 26th, 2004 at 1:05pm
Mark & Quote Quote 
For future refrence for the most part they don't care if you did drugs 15 years ago. They generally care about anything within 2 years. Their main concern is whether or not you are willing to tell the truth. This can be very important in a court room seeting, if you have consistantly lied about crititcal issues, then whats your credibility? Why should the jur believe you? If it's a simple question as to how high that failure rate is... consider the FBI. They canget around 60,000 applications for a Special Agent. Of those 60,000 about 7% (about 4200) actually make it to being tested by the FBI. These are very competative jobs and they only want the best of the best. If they have a choice between say a person who admits to commiting a misdemenor or say a low end felony (c or lower in most places) and a person with a clean slate, they are naturally going to pick the person with the clean slate as they will be more believable in a court room setting.

Again: A polygraph is not always 100% accurate, but there is very little that actually is.
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Re: 60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Reply #8 - May 26th, 2004 at 3:02pm
Mark & Quote Quote 
You write in part:

Quote:
...A polygraph is not always 100% accurate...


Although this is a true statement, it is really a meaningless statement inasmuch as it does not address or resolve the apparent conflict with two equally true statements:  (1) Polygraphy has not been shown in a field setting through an analysis of the totality of peer reviewed research to have an accuracy greater than random chance, and (2)  Because of theoretical flaws there is no reason to expect that common lie detection techniques would have greater accuracy than random chance when assessing matters of truth and falsehood.
.
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Re: 60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Reply #9 - Nov 23rd, 2005 at 8:30pm
Mark & Quote Quote 
anonymous wrote on May 26th, 2004 at 3:02pm:
You write in part:


 (1) Polygraphy has not been shown in a field setting through an analysis of the totality of peer reviewed research to have an accuracy greater than random chance, and (2)  Because of theoretical flaws there is no reason to expect that common lie detection techniques would have greater accuracy than random chance when assessing matters of truth and falsehood.
.



Wrong.  Read the 2002 report from the Nat'l Research Council Committee - especially the phrase ".... can tell truth from lies at rates well above chance ..."
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Paste User Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: 60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Reply #10 - Nov 24th, 2005 at 7:48am
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MrAugust,

Actually, Anonymous got it exactly right. The conclusions of the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences report regarding polygraph accuracy are much more nuanced and caveated than your selective quoting suggests, and moreover are based in large measure on non-peer reviewed research (to which Anonymous made specific reference). Here is the full citation from p. 214 the NAS report, with the context you omitted:

Quote:
Notwithstanding the quality of the empirical research and the limited ability to generalize to real-world settings, we conclude that in populations of examinees such as those represented in the polygraph research literature, untrained in countermeasures, specific-incident polygraph tests for event-specific investigations can discriminate lying from truth telling at rates well above chance, though well below perfection.
Accuracy may be highly variable across situations. The evidence does not allow any precise quantitative estimate of polygraph accuracy or provide confidence that accuracy is stable across personality types, sociodemographic groups, psychological and medical conditions, examiner and examinee expectancies, or ways of administering the test and selecting questions. In particular, the evidence does not provide confidence that polygraph accuracy is robust against potential countermeasures. There is essentially no evidence on the incremental validity of polygraph testing, that is, its ability to add predictive value to that which can be achieved by other methods.


As noted at pp. 28-29 of the 4th edition of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (you read it, right?):

Quote:
Some in the polygraph community have attempted to hang their hat on the first sentence of the above citation to support the claim that polygraphy “works.” But note that the Committee’s conclusion that “specific-incident polygraph tests for event-specific investigations can discriminate lying from truth telling at rates well above chance” is conditioned upon the subject population being similar to “those represented in the research literature,” that is, ignorant of polygraph procedure and countermeasures. Such ignorance cannot be safely assumed, especially with information on both polygraph procedure and countermeasures readily available via the Internet.

It follows from the Committee’s conclusion that “the evidence does not allow any precise quantitative estimate of polygraph accuracy” that software algorithms peddled by polygraph manufacturers such as Axciton and Stoelting that purport to determine with mathematical precision the probability that a particular individual is lying or telling the truth are unreliable. And because, as the Committee concludes, “the evidence does not provide confidence that polygraph accuracy is robust against potential countermeasures,” it is not safe to assume that anyone passing a polygraph “test” has told the truth.

The last sentence of the above-cited passage is the key one with respect to polygraph validity (as opposed to accuracy): “There is essentially no evidence on the incremental validity of polygraph testing, that is, its ability to add predictive value to that which can be achieved by other methods.” What this means is that there is no evidence that polygraph “testing” provides greater predictive value than, say, interrogating a subject without the use of a polygraph, or with a colander-wired-to-a-photocopier that is represented to the subject as being a lie detector.

Indeed, in the first chapter of their report, in a subsection titled, “The Lie Detection Mystique” (pp. 18–21), the Committee members compare polygraphy with superstitious lie detection rituals in primitive societies, likening the polygraph community to a shamanistic priesthood “keeping its secrets in order to keep its power.”


Regarding the theoretical basis of polygraphy, to which Anonymous also referred, the NAS report concludes (at p. 213):

Quote:
Theoretical Basis The theoretical rationale for the polygraph is quite weak, especially in terms of differential fear, arousal, or other emotional states that are triggered in response to relevant or comparison questions. We have not found any serious effort at construct validation of polygraph testing.


Under the circumstances, to rely on polygraph results to make decisions regarding a person's truthfulness is foolhardy.
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George W. Maschke
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Re: 60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Reply #11 - Nov 24th, 2005 at 11:29am
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Perhaps it is foolhardy if the person takes the time to viligantly study polygraph procedure and work hard on countermeasures, but the impression I get from reading all of the stuff you pointed out is that it is pretty accurate if you only tested unknowing folks who wouldn't understand how to beat it.

In the first quote, where you showed what I excluded, all I can think of while reading it is those drug commercials where they say "... Some users report side effects like nausea, fever, etc....".  It's a disclaimer - just because the drug doesn't work properly on a few people doesn't mean it is useless.

All I'm saying is that my impression is that polygraph testing is pretty accurate for the majority of folks who make no serious attempt to beat it, are not under altering medications, etc.  Every piece of literature you've shown me states or implies that countermeasures are the biggest threat to accuracy.  I'm not disagreeing with that.

I'd love to know what they are really getting at with this quote:  "....the Committee members compare polygraphy with superstitious lie detection rituals in primitive societies, likening the polygraph community to a shamanistic priesthood “keeping its secrets in order to keep its power.”  What's the deal with the attack on priests ?    I'm not sure how a veiled jab at organized religion is relevant to the study.  That definitely sends up a red flag with me with respect to the credibility of these people.

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Re: 60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Reply #12 - Nov 24th, 2005 at 5:56pm
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MrAugust,

From reading your previous posts, I detect a pro-polygraph bias. Not that this is a problem, as all opinions are welcome on this website, (unlike the pro-polygrapher website. where you get thrown out if you dare to preach blasphemy to the great polygraph demigods),  But you are correct in assuming that the ill informed and naieve will significantly fail the polygraph at a higher rate. By being informed and well read you remove the fear, doubt, and anxiety, that the polygrapher needs to make his voodoo work. That is why that community tries to keep its secret rituals to themselves. But go on over to the pro site and get another opinion if you like. Best part is, I do believe that their answers will always tow the company line, that they are 98% accurate at detecting deception, caveat ---it only works if the examinee buys in to the BS that is being slung at them. Once you know it doesn't work and is a load of crap, it never again is a problem.
good luck
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Re: 60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Reply #13 - Nov 25th, 2005 at 12:46am
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EosJupiter wrote on Nov 24th, 2005 at 5:56pm:
MrAugust,

Best part is, I do believe that their answers will always tow the company line, that they are 98% accurate at detecting deception, caveat ---it only works if the examinee buys in to the BS that is being slung at them. Once you know it doesn't work and is a load of crap, it never again is a problem.
good luck  



They don't claim 98% accuracy - well most of them don't anyway.  The ones that do are possibly some of the bad apples that are responsible for some of the false positives / negatives.

General consensus I've heard is 80-90% - and that's probably assuming no countermeasures or drugs.
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Re: 60% CT State Police Polygraph Failure Rate!
Reply #14 - Nov 25th, 2005 at 2:22am
Mark & Quote Quote 
[quote author=MrAugust link=board=Policy;num=1068278826;start=0#11 date=11/24/05 at 08:29:21]Perhaps it is foolhardy if the person takes the time to viligantly study polygraph procedure and work hard on countermeasures, but the impression I get from reading all of the stuff you pointed out is that it is pretty accurate if you only tested unknowing folks who wouldn't understand how to beat it.

In the first quote, where you showed what I excluded, all I can think of while reading it is those drug commercials where they say "... Some users report side effects like nausea, fever, etc....".  It's a disclaimer - just because the drug doesn't work properly on a few people doesn't mean it is useless.

Mr. August,

Your analogy about drug side effects and the accuracy of the polygraph is an interesting one and brings a memory to mind. I never paid much attention to  adverse side effects of prescription drugs until I experienced a frightening situation some years ago when I suffered a severe reaction to a drug given to me by a doctor. The reaction is quite rare, in fact, only one of the doctors in the facility where I was treated had even seen it before. That experience enlightened me  and gave me a new respect for the power of  prescription drugs and what they can do to some people. To this day, I always research possible drug reactions and side effects, however rare, and dread taking a drug I've never had before.

Years later, when I was failed on an FBI polygraph that I thought to be nearly 100% accurate, after telling the truth, I believed that I must have been part of a small percentage of the population--just as I had been when I suffered that severe drug reaction. I thought a re-test would clear up the mistake, but I was wrong. I was also wrong to think that false polygraph positives were rare. If polygraphs were reliable and accurate, their use would not be so controversial. I had just never paid attention before, the same as before I suffered that horrible drug reaction. Some things that seem harmless and innocent at first, can turn out to be dangerously  destructive.         

Several posters have given you sound advice about your situation, but it seems you have already made up your mind. It's terribly sad that you would leave the fate of your marriage to a piece of worthless trash. What's even sadder, is that if you really knew your wife, you wouldn't need a machine to tell you whether she'd been unfaithful.
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