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

By David T. Lykken | Go to book overview

PREFACE

The first edition of this book was also the first and only monograph on this important topic written by a scientist for the edification of interested non-scientists, including lawyers and policy-makers. When Michael Hennelly of Plenum suggested that I consider preparing a new edition, I realized that many interesting developments had occurred in this field in the past two decades. No actual "lie detectors" have been invented but some of the old ones have been patched up, relabeled, and touted as improvements. The myth of the polygraph has been married to the mystique of the computer, a dangerous liaison that has spawned a litter of mischievous mythlets. Since 1980, I have testified as an expert witness for the purpose of impeaching lie detector findings in criminal trials and courts-martial from Alaska to Florida. I have been contacted by hundreds of victims of mistaken lie detector tests or by their attorneys. Many of their stories provide illustrative material -- illustrations that I think are truly disturbing.

I have testified in support of anti-polygraph legislation before committees of state legislatures, the United States House and Senate and I hope I contributed in a small way to the eventual passage of the federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988. This statute prevents most employers in the private sector from requiring job applicants or current employees to submit to polygraph screening tests. Police and all federal employees are excluded from this protection, however. The result has been that many honorable people, the people I would like to see on our police forces and in our federal police and security agencies, have been falsely branded and excluded as "deceptive" by arrogant polygraph examiners. Polygraph examiners, most of whom are honorable people, are made arrogant by the

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