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

By David T. Lykken | Go to book overview
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Part III
LIE DETECTION:
THE APPLICATIONS

(Interview with Roc, age seven): What happens when you tell lies? You get punished. And if you didn't get punished, would it be naughty to tell them? No. I'm going to tell you two stories. There were two kiddies and they broke a cup each. The first says it wasn't him. His mother believes him and doesn't punish him. The second one also says it wasn't him. But his mother doesn't believe him and punishes him. Are both lies they told equally naughty? No. Which is the naughtiest? The one who was punished.

-- JEAN PIAGET, The Moral Judgement of the Child Listen, 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.

-- PRESIDENT RICHARD M. NIXON, Oval Office Tape, July 14, 1971

This section begins with an examination of the widespread but seldom discussed practice of modern American business to do its own police work. Many American businesses, large and small, deal with intramural crime by hiring private investigators or by maintaining their own security operatives. Prior to the federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988,

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