A Tremor in the Blood: Uses and Abuses of the Lie Detector

By David T. Lykken | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
PROLOGUE

It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore, and to see ships tost upon the sea; a pleasure to stand in the windows of a castle, and to see a battle and the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage ground of truth (a hill not to be commanded, and where the air is always clear and serene), and to see the errors, and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below.

-- FRANCIS BACON

One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.

-- MARK TWAIN

Thousands of Americans are subjected (or subject themselves) to polygraph or "lie detector" tests each year. When the first edition of this work was published in 1981, that estimate was in the hundreds of thousands, but due to the Employee Polygraph Protection Act that was passed by Congress and signed by President Reagan in 1988, it is now illegal for most employers in the private sector to require employees or job applicants to submit to this intrusive and humiliating procedure. I like to think my book contributed to the change. Unhappily, however, the 1988 statute exempts law enforcement and other government employees from its protection, and as we see in Chapter 13, employers in the private sector still can call in the "polygraph police" under certain circumstances.

-1-

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