1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2002

    Question Good Firefighters getting left out, and for what?

    I'm just wandering how many qualified firefighters, with no criminal background, no past drug history, and an impecable work history get disqualified from a hiring process because a man with a machine (a polygraph machine) says that they are not good enough. It doesn't matter how the applicant ranked among all the others. I was just wandering if there was anyone else out there in the same perdicament.

  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Default Yep!

    Happens more than you know. Here is some important information:

    Are Polygraph Tests Lying to Us?

    This article is from the Baltimore Sun. It should give you an insight to the polygraph delimma:

    Tests: Mixed reading of Lee's nuclear secret data, federal
    employee opposition to taking lie detectors 'reignite'
    80-year-old controversy.

    By Michael Stroh
    Sun Staff
    Originally published Nov 3 2000

    When physicist Wen Ho Lee first denied
    leaking U.S. nuclear secrets to the Chinese, authorities from
    the Department of Energy in 1998 wired him to a polygraph
    to see if he was lying.

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist passed.

    But when a polygraph expert from the FBI looked at the
    same test results later, he concluded that Lee had not told
    the truth.

    How could the same lie detector test lead investigators to
    exactly opposite conclusions?

    The case of Lee, who eventually pleaded guilty to one
    felony count of mishandling classified information, has left
    law enforcement experts trying to answer the same
    fundamental questions that have existed since the invention
    of the lie detector 80 years ago: Does the polygraph
    actually work? And is it fair?

    "It's reignited this smoldering controversy," says Steven
    Aftergood, a senior research analyst with the Federation of
    American Scientists in Washington. In an essay being
    published today in the journal Science, Aftergood argues
    that a new federal policy requiring nearly 20,000
    employees of the national nuclear weapons laboratories to
    take lie detector tests is having undesirable effects.

    The policy has lowered morale, Aftergood writes, and
    caused some of the nation's most gifted scientists to leave,
    and made it harder for the labs to recruit talented young
    researchers for the weapons programs. The use of the
    polygraph, he writes, "symbolizes the defeat of reason by
    the national security state."

    Despite such criticisms, the use of the polygraph test is on
    the rise.

    Congress banned private industry's use of lie detectors as a
    condition of employment in 1988, but they are routinely
    used for employee screening at the FBI, Central Intelligence
    Agency, National Security Agency and local police
    departments around the country. The percentage of law
    enforcement agencies using polygraphs for this purpose
    rose from 16 percent in 1962 to 62 percent in 1999,
    according to a survey by Michigan State University's
    School of Criminal Justice.

    There's also a growing market for polygraphs outside law
    enforcement. The American Polygraph Association, the
    largest polygraph accrediting and licensing organization in
    the country, reports that its membership has risen past 2,000
    and is continuing to grow.

    Private polygraph examiners handle everything from fishing
    tournaments to divorce cases. Winners of the annual Big
    Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in Morehead City, N.C., for
    example, must submit to a polygraph before collecting any
    prize money (to make sure they haven't stuffed rocks in the
    gut of their prize catch).

    Lie detectors aren't designed to detect lies as much as the
    subtle physical changes that may occur when a person tells
    a lie. The word "polygraph" means "many writings," and
    that is what the polygraph machine produces: lots of
    squiggly lines on a scrolling piece of paper.

    The test works like this: A subject is seated in a chair. Two
    rubber belts are wrapped around his chest and stomach to
    measure breathing patterns. A blood pressure cuff is
    wrapped around an arm. A metal plate attached to the
    fingers measures sweat gland activity.

    The polygraph examiner then asks the person a series of
    questions. Some of the queries are "control" questions
    unrelated to the matter under investigation but establish a
    base line of the person's blood pressure, respiration and
    perspiration. Other questions directly address the actions
    under scrutiny.

    The examiner interprets the person's physiological response
    to each of the questions, as recorded on scrolling paper, to
    judge whether the person is lying. And thus the uncertainty
    about polygraph results: they are a matter of judgment.
    "There's no red light or siren that comes on when the person
    lies," says Milton O. "Skip" Webb Jr., president of the
    American Polygraph Association.

    The roots of the modern lie detector stretch back to
    antiquity. Like modern methods, early techniques to ferret
    out lies often relied on the behavior exhibited by liars -
    sweaty palms, dry mouth, shifting gaze, racing pulse.

    In China, for example, suspected liars were fed a handful of
    dry rice. If they could spit it out, the thinking went, they
    were telling the truth. If the rice stuck to their tongue, they
    must have something to hide.

    The modern quest to detect liars using technology began
    with Cesare Lombroso, an Italian criminologist who in
    1895 published a book called "The Criminal Man" in which
    he described his efforts using an early instrument to
    measure changes in blood pressure to determine whether
    several criminal suspects had lied.

    In 1915, Harvard psychologist William Moulton Marston
    picked up on these early studies and devised a primitive lie
    detector based on blood pressure. According to
    psychologist and polygraph historian David Lykken, it was
    Marston, a colorful P.T. Barnum-like character, who was
    among the first to realize the lie detector's commercial

    In 1938, Look magazine described how Marston sometimes
    used his lie detection techniques in marital counseling. He
    also showed up in full-page ads testfying to the close shave
    offered by Gillette razors: "New Facts about Shaving
    Revealed by Lie Detector!" (Using the pen name "Charles
    Moulton," Marston would also invent the comic strip
    character Wonder Woman, whose magic lasso could force
    those held to tell the truth. )

    But John A. Larson, a Berkeley, Calif., police officer, is the
    person generally credited with inventing the modern
    polygraph machine. In 1921, Larson, who eventually
    became a doctor, devised an instrument that could
    simultaneously record blood pressure, pulse and
    respiration. Later tinkerers improved upon Larson's design
    by adding sensors to measure perspiration.

    Over the years scientists have tried to determine whether
    the polygraph actually works. But accurate studies are hard
    to do. "The science is not solid," says Aftergood, in part
    because investigators can rarely learn independently
    whether a subject who passed a polygraph test was indeed
    telling the truth.

    In some studies, volunteers are recruited to be pretend
    criminals and then subjected to a lie detector test. But the
    results of such work, critics argue, don't mimic reality. "It's
    impossible to make the stakes as high in an experiment as
    they are in real life," says Aftergood.

    Still, proponents of the polygraph argue the device is
    accurate in better than 90 percent of cases, and note that it's
    not uncommon for other types of test results to be open to

    "Your doctor can have you take a chest X-ray and say, 'I
    don't see anything.' Then he sends it over to a radiologist
    and the radiologist finds something the first doctor doesn't
    see," says Webb. "Happens all the time."

    But enough guilty people have slipped past the polygraph to
    have given law enforcement officials pause. Most federal
    and state courts do not allow polygraph results to be
    entered as evidence.

    CIA employee Aldrich Ames, for example, passed lie
    detector tests despite selling U.S. secrets to the Russians
    for more than eight years. There's also a mini-industry of
    Internet sites and books such as "Deception Detection:
    Winning the Polygraph Game" that purport to teach people
    how to beat the test.

    "College students with 15 minutes of explanation can beat
    the lie detector," says David Lykken, a retired psychologist
    from the University of Minnesota. "Anybody who is
    working as a spy has been taught how to beat the
    polygraph." The advertised techniques range from curling
    one's toes to biting one's tongue during control questions to
    mislead the examiner.

    Still, even critics of the polygraph acknowledge that it has
    led to admissions of guilt that they might not otherwise have

    Then this:

    The Lie Behind the Lie Detector

    "The polygraph itself functions as a prop more than anything
    else," says Aftergood. "Yet, there are cases every year in
    which the prop works." The National Academy of Sciences has just issued a devastatingly critical report on polygraph testing http://www.nap.edu/books/0309084369/html/ It is especially critical of the kind of pre-employment screening used by many fire departments.

    Aftergood, co-founder of www.AntiPolygraph.org , a website dedicated to the abolishment of polygraphy from the American workplace. I was one of the speakers invited by the National Academy of Sciences' polygraph panel to address its members in Washington, DC. I'd be happy to discuss polygraph matters with anyone here who is interested.

    If you are facing a pre-employment polygraph examination, you need to know how these purported "tests" really work (and don't). It would be worthwhile to take a look at the NAS report referenced above. See also AntiPolygraph.org's free e-book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector, which may be downloaded as a PDF file or browsed in HTML format.

    "Captain Bob"

    Last edited by CaptBob; 02-02-2003 at 03:05 PM.

  3. #3
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2002

    Thumbs up Thanks CaptBob

    I have read a lot of information about polygraph machines and their so called accurate results since my dealings with the San Antonio Fire Department. I guess that my biggest complaint is that I spent a lot of money traveling back and forth to San Antonio for the hiring process. I was number 12 out of 2500 applicants. I passed their test, C-PAT, B-PAT, pyschological evaluation, drug tests, an extensive background investigation, and a physical with flying colors. And, for them to disqualify me because of what a machine says and not take everything else that I have done into consideration. I mean they didn't even give me an interview. Come on what kind of hiring process is that? The funny part is that they finally sent me a letter stating that I was officailly disqualified from the hiring process for this class but that I was more than able to reapply again next year. Now, if I'm a "liar" now wouldn't I be a "liar" next time to. Why would they even give me a chance to reapply?

  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Default Second Opinion

    If you're still interested, request a second poly opinion.

    "Captain Bob"


  5. #5
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2002

    Default The second chance has come and gone.

    I did have a second chance to take another polygraph test. Both polygraphers stated that I was coming up inconclusive, but they didn't tell me what part of the exam came up inconclusive. Surely I wasn't inconclusive on the whole thing. I requested a copy of my read outs from both polygraphers but have yet received any records. The first polygrapher was an investigator with the arson office and the second was what they called a "Private Polygrapher" but yet was still payed by the department. Now how is he any different from the investigator in the arson office. As far as I am concerned even though he is a private polygrapher at that time he was an employee of the city. They, the city , considered my second test as my appeal.

  6. #6
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Default Again

    Ah ha, that elusive "Inconclusive" raises it's ugly head again. Why can't they just give it to you if it falls into the inconclusive catagory? Oh, I'm sorry, that would be to easy and logical.

    Captain Bob


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