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

By David T. Lykken | Go to book overview

Chapter 14
TRUTH, LTD.:
THE POLYGRAPHER
AS PRIVATE DETECTIVE

PAUL ALTMEYER: "Do you think an employer should rely solely on the results of one of these tests?" JOHN REID: "Well, true, I suppose they could put a person back to work and say, 'Now don't do that again.'" ALTMEYER: "Well, you're the judge and jury then?" REID: "Well, true in that particular thing, except that the penalty is just losing your job ..." -- NBC News Interview with John Reid, 1977Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K. for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning. -- F. KAFKA, The Trial

Early in 1986 a major U.S. television network, CBS, conducted its own test of the polygraph. CBS owns the magazine Popular Photography and arranged for that subsidiary's office manager to contact four different polygraph firms in New York City, engaging their help in determining which of four employees had stolen a valuable camera. As the polygraphers arrived (on different days) to do the testing, each one was advised that, while all four employees had had access to the camera, the manager's

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