Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Truth Will Set You Free


I’m deeply immersed in my writing at last. I’ve managed to crawl through the resistance barrier (thanks to a daily dose of Steven Pressfield’s fabulous book The War Of Art) – and now, although I am nowhere near the home stretch, I am plodding along in a comfortable state of anxiety that I have accepted is my normal writing process. Chocolate helps.

What is this post about? Well … lying, actually.

I’ve just come to a point in my story where one of my characters has to take a polygraph test. Luckily, I took copious notes from Deanne Theodore’s workshop at this year’s Love is Murder conference in Chicago

As well as being a private detective, Deanne Theodore runs a polygraph consultancy business in Illinois. She brought in her 35 lb Stoelting analog polygraph machine that she fondly refers to as “The Thing.”



Although most polygraph machines these days are digital, Deanne believes The Thing has greater accuracy because it gets a “better ink flow.” She also claims that alleged liars seem to be intimidated the moment they walk into the “polygraph suite” and see The Thing with all the wires, blood cuff and electrical pads with metal plates. The latter is able to measure the sweat through the skin on the fingers.

So what exactly is a polygraph?
It is simply an instrument that records changes in autonomic reactivity when confronting a given stimulus i.e. a question. The instrument reflects the changes in our body as it registers a flight, fight or freeze response as illustrated in the tracings. A direct spike indicates a problem. But often, it is the body that gives itself away.

Typically, truthful examinees are cooperative and follow instructions whereas deceptive examinees will attempt to engage in certain behaviors in an effort to distort the tracings. When such behaviors are identified, after a verbal warning, the test is stopped and a “Purposeful Non Cooperation (PNC) result is returned.

Can you beat the polygraph?
Sociopaths can lie because they have no feelings and they can rationalize the question but on the whole, people don’t “beat” a polygraph test. They beat the examiner conducting the test. Asking the right questions is definitely an acquired skill and Deanne has it.

She usually asks the examinee questions before the test begins. When her victim—sorry, I mean examinee–is all wired up, Deanne will slip basic questions to instill confidence in between the pertinent questions. Deanne counts fifteen seconds between each question and she mark’s the paper at the start and finish of a question with a positive or negative answer.

Deanne revealed that she could force someone to lie by asking them to lie about something that is true. During the presentation we did some role-playing and I was surprised to discover how easy it was to get hot under the collar despite being innocent. But, as Deanne insists, “We do not detect lies … we verify the truth!”

Here are a few physical signs of lying
  • The liar has difficulty swallowing.
  • He is displaying a forced smile on his face.
  • He is less expressive with his arms and tends to hold them close to his body or he could be touching different parts of his face.
  • He may have nervous habits such as ear rubbing, whistling etc.
  • The liar makes no eye contact with you or he may stare at you in a very unnatural way.
  • He is sitting hunched instead of straight.
  • There may be physiological changes. With a lie he may drink water in the middle of a question or try to clear his throat.  
Of course there are ways to beat a lie detector test. Check out the top ten right here!

So, if you are curious about whether your significant other is enjoying an extra-marital tryst or your neighbor is stealing cabbages from your garden, look no further. For a small fee of anywhere between $300 and $1,000, suggest they take a polygraph test and the truth will set you free.

2 comments:

Bryan Koepke said...

Great post about the Polygraph. I especially like the description and the picture of “The Thing". I've only been polygraphed once on a job interview, but I can say the whole experience was interesting to say the least. It's great to read this kind of content. Keep up the good work.

Donis Casey said...

The War of Art is absolutely my favorite book on the art of writing. Love Pressfield's books, too.