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Personal Statement of a CIA Analyst (antipolygraph.org)
245 points by ap_org 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 104 comments





Maybe it is how it's written, but this person's entire career reads like a rat navigating through a maze built by superiors. Even though they say the job is among the happiest times of their life, it helps put into perspective the follower mentality some have, especially in the public sector. I'd have given the middle finger right away knowing I can find enjoyable work sans harassment. To put it crudely, I can't even sympathize with someone so willing to grab their ankles.

Instead of telling your kids to avoid working at places with a polygraph, how about instilling some confidence and make it clear to them that if they are/become really good at what they do, they have the leverage to not put up with these things (at least in non-depressed employment markets).


"it helps put into perspective the follower mentality some have, especially in the public sector. I'd have given the middle finger right away knowing I can find enjoyable work sans harassment. To put it crudely, I can't even sympathize with someone so willing to grab their ankles."

That's such an arrogant thing to say if you have never been in this situation. History has long shown that when things get tough most people will fall in line and only a very few will resist. Talk is easy but actually acting is very tough and rare.


What makes it arrogant? It's a starkly different perspective...but arrogant?

The quote is "I'd have given the middle finger right away"

How does that person know that without having been in that situation? It's so easy to say "I'd never do that" but history is full of examples where most people just fell in line. Just look at around at most big tech companies or banks. There are a lot of people who may not be comfortable with their employer's business practices but in the end they stay because they don't want to lose that nice paycheck. I am not judging these people, they are like most of us. I am judging people who say they are different without back it up.


I have quit jobs for less, but I suppose nobody can have an opinion on what they'd quit over (or over and over) without being in exactly that situation. You know what's easier than saying what you'd do in a situation? Discounting what someone else might do by putting qualifiers on their ability to even say it.

You wrote " I can't even sympathize with someone so willing to grab their ankles."

I still think your attitude is very arrogant. Maybe one day you will be in a situation where you can't just quit and find anther job easily. This may help you learn to have more empathy with others who are in a less privileged position than you are.


I put it crudely by intention. I don't believe that the author is less privileged or devoid of choice here. We must call out those that encourage these practices with their continued support of them instead of twisting it in to pity when it's clearly a case of choice (as author mentions towards the latter part about working elsewhere). We're never going to increase employee confidence and mobility if we're so quick to appeal to emotion in cases where it's clearly invalid.

If you actually want to bring change then saying "I would never ever do that and I have no sympathy for people who aren't as strong as I am" is a very bad way to give confidence to people. What you did was to pat yourself on your shoulder and to declare others are losers.

It’s like a humblebrag in a sense- saying something that seems relevant, but it’s really just an excuse to put other people down and exalt oneself in a roundabout way. I see it a lot on HN and it always comes across as very very young people who haven’t had to make tough choices in their lives yet. When people describe tough choices in such oversimplified terms, I think they think it makes them sound tough and wise but it really sounds naive and narcissistic.

Ditto for people who brag about getting triggered by some question in a job interview that they feel is beneath them, so they claim that they got up and left the interview right then and there, as if that’s something to brag about. It’s so cringey every time some HN poster brags about immediately bailing on an interview because they thought someone asked them a dumb question.


> this person's entire career reads like a rat navigating through a maze built by superiors.... it helps put into perspective the follower mentality some have...

A few things: 1) The article was a fantastic read(!), and I couldn't help but think that the polygraph is a bit of a hazing ritual that is used to measure, not truthfulness/deception, but one's eagerness for the job and system. As a said in another post, once too many people begin to question a/the system that depends on wide-scale high levels of trust(compliance), it fails.

The whole thing seemed to involve a lot of behavioral conditioning.

Example 1: Offer computer access (so that you can do your supposed job) contingent upon one complying w/ and passing the poly.

Example 2: Oh, you hate the poly and put up a fuss? Well, thanks for complying: here's a good performance review and raise.'

So long as the writer responded appropriately to the bell, he/she received a treat. This is intro-level psych.

2) Though most are not subjected to polygraphs, the experience described over all, doesn't deviate from what most employees experience, unfortunately. You mentioned a maze, and you are correct. That's why the typical work arrangement is colloquially described as "the rat race".

3) A lot of people like "grabbing their ankles," as you say. As it's been explained to me numerous times, they appreciate the "structure" or "predictability." I try not to fight it anymore. Sheep make good eatin', and I realize I should just live as such.

> ...they have the leverage to not put up with these things...

As someone who's been around the block a bit, I no longer believe this. There are too many willing ankle grabbers in world that is more interested in compliance (ego-stroking of the insecure, actually) than in achieving perfection, or even just "better than." Of course, there are exceptions, but those are few and far between, IMO. So, the author suggested one coping mechanism, just as I above offered another.

Cheers!


What is a reasonable hoop to jump through and what is unreasonable is very subjective.

Consider...on the east coast, interview suits are the norm. Even for a coding job where you will never wear a suit, it is reasonable to wonder why a candidate refused to wear a suit for an interview. West coast, though, the reverse is true. I had quite the culture shock coming from a govt job on the east coast to a Seattle coding job.

I have anxiety and would find routine polygraphs stressful...but I also hate annual performance reviews and enjoy my 1:1s with managers. I'm sure others might look at my life and wonder why I choose certain issues as important and others as trivial.

So while I have the same reactions as you when PERSONALLY considering the named job, I'm less inclined to snap judge the author as "so willing to grab their ankles"


In NYC it's absolutely not expected or normal to wear a suit for a software engineering interview.

Yeah, in most places, it would mark you as earnest, at best, and naive, at worst.

Nor in Baltimore.

The last time I wore a suit I was sixteen. That was 1971. Had to wear a tie at Mullard in Southampton, left in 1983 and haven't worn a tie since. Had a number of jobs as an electronics designer and software developer since in the UK and Norway. I just turn up to interviews neatly and quietly dressed. As far as I can tell my attire was of no consequence.

> would find routine polygraphs stressful

What I would find intolerable is the persistence of the practice despite polygraphs being bullshit. I can't work for higher-ups that I don't respect, because I'm constitutionally unable to conceal my contempt. And it would be impossible to respect higher-ups that required regular polygraphs.


https://books.google.ca/books?id=xZzJzihfCCQC < A machiavellian approach to men's fashion

>like a rat navigating through a maze built by superiors

brilliant use of language here, you're spot on. while i agree that the public sector can foster a passive mentality, i didn't get that vibe from the author. they were just a person trying to put up with the bullshit that accompanied a job they loved.


How does "leverage" get you a job in Intelligence without passing a poly?

The leverage is the ability to make the same amount of money in a non-cleared role.

By leveraging the fact that one is a UK citizen, and applying to SIS or GCHQ, I assume? Most other countries perform in-depth background checks, rather than relying on pseudo-science, when it comes to matters of national security.

The background investigations are still performed, the poly is an additional layer added on, so that's the only real formal difference between countries.

I really want to believe that polygraphs are just used as an interrogation tool and not as a substitute for the SSBI. But the FBI gave Nada Nadim Prouty an SCI clearance even though she wasn't even lawfully present in the US, let alone a citizen. She was working for CIA when the next investigation was due, and they didn't have a problem either.

These sorts of situations are rife and you can pretty well tell from the interview where it's going. It needn't be a polygraph to know it's not worth the effort

I was a team leader at a USSOCOM unit and had to take a poly to be read into a couple of three-letter agency programs. In the middle of the test, the smug 23 year old fresh college grad administering the thing tells me I'm being deceptive and obviously support jihadi terrorism. This as I'm getting ready to leave on my 12th deployment. I've never wanted to so violently break someone's face as right then in that moment.

When administering the test some examiners will tell the subject they failed just to see the reaction or if they will admit to something. All though, it would be a poor choice to do this to someone who had taken multiple screening polys.

Sounds like they are doing their job. Their job is to fuck with you. Just stay calm, relaxed, and board. It’s all a bunch of BS.

> This as I'm getting ready to leave on my 12th deployment

Unfortunately, people with far better credentials have been traitors and spies. Kim Philby, Aldrich Ames, and Robert Hanssen come to mind. IIRC, at least one was even given a pass on his polygraph test because of his credentials. Recently, Michael Flynn was a Lt General, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and National Security Advisor (to be clear, he is convicted only of lying to the FBI, AFAIK).

EDIT: Added to Flynn's credentials


Funny you should mention Aldrich Ames. The New York Times reported that:

> Three years later, at the start of his career as a Russian mole, Aldrich Ames passed a Central Intelligence Agency lie detector test. In 1991, he passed another, even though he was on the agency's list of suspected moles and living at a level far above his $70,000 Government salary. Last summer, Dennis DeConcini, then chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, visited Mr. Ames in jail and asked how he passed the exams. "Well," Mr. Ames replied, "they don't work."

https://www.nytimes.com/1995/02/19/opinion/lie-detectors-lie...

He also wrote a very interesting letter about polygraph testing:

https://fas.org/sgp/othergov/polygraph/ames.html


Interesting, thanks.

Why was Ames given a pass on the other signs of risk? Because of his credentials?


It's been a few years since I've read a book on Ames, but as far as I recall he had some plausible deniability - he claimed the money came from his father in law.

But if I recall correctly, he was also surprised it took so long.


Yeah, and they were all caught during their polygraph interrogations right?

As I said, I believe Ames or Hanssen was, but the subject was given a pass because of his credentials.

Hanssen never took a polygraph; Ames took many and passed them all. If there's even a single spy who was caught because of the polygraph, neither the US nor any other government using them has said so.

The incredulity lays here:

> tells me I'm being deceptive and obviously support jihadi terrorism. This as I'm getting ready to leave on my 12th deployment.


I hate it when people do this. What's the better comeback/reaction to this frame? (apparently, my verbalized fuck-off, tamed or not, is not the best approach)

"I'm sorry, that's not true.", then wait for them to continue the test?

Yes, and the general recommendations I've seen are:

- I'm sorry, what did you say? I didn't hear that? ...

- Oh, I thought you said that. What made you say it? ...

- You know that people reserve the worst criticism for themselves? ...

Did my original question implied polygraph tests in any way?


"Wow, you're really bad at this!"

I don't know... It's aggressive in an explicit way. A putdown. I should have several comebacks ready and be prepared to nuke the relationship.

Snort

I'm picturing that scene from The Rock where Ed Harris chews out that young staffer who questions him.

If that statement was actually part of the test, that poor guy had a very dangerous job. "Might as well put the new guys in there, if they get killed we don't lose someone more valuable."

Throw away account. I get one every 5 years for my clearances. After having several, I view it as just another BS hoop to jump.

Obviously it does not work as a lie detector, but it’s an excellent tool for interrogation. At least that’s my conclusion.

Just answer yes and no. They’ll say you are almost done, but have an issue with one question, and want you to explain more. Don’t explain anything; just say “I don’t know“ and you are answering truthfully. Just stay relaxed, calm, and bored.


Throwaway as well.

FWIW I would estimate that 85% of my colleagues that discuss their poly experience view it as the same.

It is an interrogation prop masquerading as science. The poly is subjective, as evident by the few times I have failed, re-tested, and passed. If I were lying the first time and did not change any answers, how can I pass the second time?

The author alluded to it in her writing, but all of the test administrators have read up on methods of defeating the polygraph exam. Often, the "I've never heard of it" line is a lie.


Now that I think about it, it probably is useful for initial job screening. More like a psychological test to screen out those that get too riled up over stuff. Though that really has more to do with age. The first one I had took three hours. Years later, the recent one was 1 hour.

The one thing the intel community does want to screen out are rash decision makers. So it’s probably excellent measure of one’s ability to keep cool under pressure.


> More like a psychological test to screen out those that get too riled up over stuff.

If that's is the case, then a nasty side-effect is to weed out the people who as a general principle refuse to put up with abuse as a basic condition of their potential job. Maybe a small deal if you're only hiring James Bond-style spies, but a big deal if you're mainly hiring analysts.

Imagine in a FLOSS project that I force all pull-request makers to read through my recursive, non-deterministic set of makefiles and fix a bug there. How many high-quality pull requests will I accept under such a system vs. simply assessing pull requests on their merit?

Of course that's not a fair comparison. I apologize to polygraph operators for it. :)


It would help me screen out jobs I don't want. Would never want to work somewhere that sees employees that way.

I had a contract doing a WebGL 3D space sim and graphing thing for a guy who was then going to recruit me to apply the technology for military applications. They wanted a browser-based simulator.

But he told me that the application process in order to get clearance would involve a nasty investigation questioning everyone who knew me about all kinds of personal things.

It seemed like a fun project that would pay decently, but it didn't make sense for me to subject myself to some kind of intense invasion of privacy or interrogation.

The other part of it is that the software was going to be used for warfare planning. And I consider war to be unethical profiteering.

In my opinion things like polygraphs and invasive investigations AND most things related to war and spying belong in movies rather than a sane and ethical world.


> And I consider war to be unethical profiteering

Do you mean all war? Or something more limited, like conflicts involving the US over the past 20 years. Or, only for the initiators of conflict. I find that line of thinking hard to justify after the most basic application to actual historical events.

Like when Finland was defending itself against Russia, was Finland attempting unethical profiteering? What should they have done instead?


There are plenty of examples of ethical foreign military actions as well.

The US stopping genocide in Europe with the Kosovo war, for example, was ethical. If a people or nation can't defend itself from an aggressor (eg the UNC & South Korea vs China & North Korea), it's more than reasonable that a stronger power step in to help with that defense if it's willing to do so. The first Gulf War was also an ethical intervention of 30 nations vs Iraq, to push them back out of Kuwait.


The testimony that pushed public opinion in favor of intervention on the first gulf war was an outright fabrication by someone who years later we found out was daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US. I don't see how an ethical intervention can be built on a mountain of lies.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nayirah_testimony


The problem is that its inconsistent. For every ethical action out there how many dozens of other wars are completely ignored by the same powers? That is what makes the ethical stance highly doubtful.

Not sure I follow your logic. So if the US doesn't intervene to stop genocide in the Sudan, it is unethical for them to stop genocide anywhere else?

If the US was to get involved in a war every time they thought something unethical was happening would that be good? If the US made a policy to never intervene anywhere, even if trivial intervention could improve the lives of millions, would that be good?

I find that people have strong opinions about war and are happy to share them, but often don't seem to have thought them through at all. Why should either war everywhere or war nowhere make sense? Is there any room for good judgment, to weigh ethics, ability and consequences, and have a different approach in different situations?

There is an entire field of philosophy and ethics around this that has been developed in the Western world and continues to be researched and debated, called just warfare. It is actually used, at least in the US, to inform decisions about rules of engagement and legal or illegal tools and tactics. In fact it is required learning for future officers in the US military, at least in the Air Force.


> There is an entire field of philosophy and ethics around this that has been developed in the Western world and continues to be researched and debated, called just warfare.

This may all be true. But my personal impression is, that most wars are waged for geo-strategical reasons, and that ethical motives serve primarily in 'manufacturing consent'. I can be entirely wrong, of course.


> Is there any room for good judgment, to weigh ethics, ability and consequences, and have a different approach in different situations?

Yes. War can be unethical but the most ethical response to an action. In practice, there are few ethical wars, which is why having any ethical conversation about war is incredibly draining and not worth it for most people: it is often sufficient to simply state war is carte blanche unethical.

Thankfully I don’t see any ethical wars on the immediate horizon.


My point is not about being ethical or not ethical. It is about the ethicality being an excuse more than anything else to intervene. For example the US will never intervene in a conflict between Russia and neighboring regions, or genocides in China if they ever occur. It would be ethical to do so, but keeping good relationships with powerful countries is the prime consideration.

It would also be ethical to remove the leadership of North Korea or even recently Venezuela since they actively harm their own constituents, yet it is very unlikely it would ever happen.

So in the end it is clearly calculated motives and returns on interventions. Ethical concerns are for the politicians to sell the package to Congress.


No, it would be unethical to do the things you mentioned. Do you honestly believe that we have a hundreds of elected officials who genuinely don't care at all about the welfare of non-Americans, who are all total monsters?

Really think about it. Is it ethical to start a war that is otherwise meritorious but that you cannot win? If you would be unable to create a good result, going to war would only add more misery to the process of getting to the inevitable bad result. This is not so 2 dimensional. You cannot say, these sets of values are parts of ethical decision making, and these other sets of values, that also impact people's lives, have no part in ethical considerations. The chances of success in a military action are a crucial component of whether it is ethical to even try it.

It is simpler to look at the results. Perhaps if the people in Iraq or Afghanistan are not better off than they would have been otherwise, and the rest of the people of the world are not safer and more prosperous than they would have been otherwise, then there was probably something unethical about the prosecution of the recent wars there.

We are just really bad at predicting the future, and even understanding the present or past. That is another ethical consideration. We should be very careful about using "ends to justify means", meaning that we do something that we know is bad for a good result of greater magnitude. The result will likely be something we did not predict, and therefore we have done a bad thing and gotten possibly a bad result as well.

The challenge would be to find a way to actually do things in the best way possible, while attaining good results. So we should avoid killing people. But if we must kill people, or even if we should kill certain very bad people (who makes those decisions?), you want to only kill the "bad" ones, therefore you should use the most discriminate weapons possible. Is it possible to do so? To achieve your aim can you use a sniper's bullet, a drone which can surveil it's target for days, or would you need to use nuclear weapons?

How would you approach North Korea, which is evil by almost any standard, when any war that lasts longer than 5 minutes results in the death of every inhabitant of Seoul?

I write all this because these are both very important and very difficult decisions. And it feels like we are not even trying. People cling to silly shallow principles and sling them around at each other, preventing the deeper discourse that should be taking place so that we can do better at dealing with horrible situations that remain in the world.


I get why people think they should/could object to war and think choosing projects is enough.

If you work on OSS, you're contributing to the military industrial complex indirectly.

If you pay your taxes, yes, you pay for schools, but you're also paying for an intelligence system and armed contingent within your country. Most HNers are contributing to NATO.

The Internet started life as a DARPA project in order to coordinate response after nuclear war.

Be a conscientious objector if you wish, just don't build stuff on the Internet and complain about how evil all things related to defence are.

And I'd be fascinated to know what forms of profiteering you consider ethical.


I think of it differently. The economy really doesn’t need to employ everyone who needs work and money. Government could diminish this discrepancy any number ways. For one, they could establish stipends to help people achieve their basic needs. Or they could create public works projects or just government projects to ensure full employment with suitable accommodations for people’s varied needs. I look at defense spending as essentially this. Yes, the US has a huge defense department. Yes that means the US has the most might of any country. That even leads it to things like excesses. But it’s fundamentally the only version of my previous statement the political climate digests. If you want otherwise and are a US citizen then get involved in your civil duties.

I agree that open source code can be used for purposes you don't like. By using an open source license, you give up control. (But should you retain that sort of control over everything you do? I'm unconvinced.)

I don't believe that ethical thinking has to be all or nothing. Not taking some projects makes them a bit harder and more expensive to recruit for and helps you sleep better at night, if that's the sort of thing that bothers you. Not paying your taxes is something you can go to jail for, which seems like a bad trade.


In 1967, as a soon to be graduate from a university in what is today called computer science, I applied to the NSA and nothing about that interview was nice. I failed the polygraph on two consecutive days and that's all she wrote. What tripped me up was the question "have you had any homosexual activity." The pen almost went off the graph when I truthfully said, "no."

Where and when I grew up that was about the worst thing that could be said of a young male. On the trip to the interview my magic magnifying mind had wondered about whether sensitivity to a question alone could cause truth to appear to be a lie. Of course the question that popped into my mind which I anticipated was the question on homosexual activity. Well, having thought about it beforehand, sure enough I reacted strongly. It was just as well because the overall interview had shown me that I didn't want to work there anyway but it was still traumatic to be accused of lying and about that in particular at that time.

For a short period of time I questioned my sexuality but can say that in the intervening 51 years there has not been one moment when I considered homosexual behavior. This is not to say anything negative about homosexuality, just how one's fear of responding to a question can cause one to respond negatively even with a truthful answer.

Times were different then and my attitude was too. I doubt I'd fear the question today given that my accepting attitude toward homosexuality in general has been normalized.


P.S. I am awfully glad that in those 51 years I was never again put in a polygraph situation such as an investigation. I just know I'd fuck it up.

>> To prepare for the test, I read A Tremor in the Blood by David T. Lykken. The book described the use of control versus relevant questions as well as countermeasure such as butt-clenching.

This explains that other thing I read yesterday, in a different article about the polygraph test:

"There may be something that's put on the tip of the finger that records blood flow and we also use something called a movement detector which is on the seat and picks up if you're trying to beat the test," Prof Grubin explains.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45736631

So that's not a "movement detector". It's a butt-clench detector.

That's just the level of seriousness I'd expect from modern-day sorcery with wires and computers, instead of fetishes and incantations.


not to mention that butt-clenching is just the simplest way of nonvisibly messing with your vital signs. a guy walking in off the street can butt clench.

once you get into some of the intermediate level buddhist body awareness studies, you won't need the butt clench to cause your muscle tenor, heart rate, body temp, and respiration to respond to your will.


>> The examiner came back. "You're having a problem with one of the questions. Do you know which one?" I had no idea. I'd answered all of them truthfully. She said, "How about, 'Have you ever lied to your boss?'" I said I hadn't. She pressed me until I came up with an occasion when I'd passed my boss in the hall. She said, "How are you?" and I said, "Fine." But I wasn't fine, I was in the middle of a cancer scare.

Heh. In machine learning, when someone gets a "successful result" like that they publish a paper.


"I was surprised. It's an important book about her field, I would have thought all polygraphers knew of it."

Unsurprisingly, these guys tend to have a lot of turn-around, and are not necessarily spending time researching their craft.


On a related note, readers might enjoy Adam Curtis' piece about intelligence agencies. The crux of his argument is that often, they're not magic super-spies; often, they're pretty bad at their job.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/entries/3662a707-0af9-...


If they know polygraph doesn't work, why do they still do it?

This is misunderstood. The Polygraph is not scientific, and can't reliably detect dishonesty. However, lots of people will admit to things under interrogation and bullying. What the polygraph is actually doing for the interrogators is simply to provide a formal way to read body language. And of course, to provide what is effectively a robot-bad cop. "Gee, I dunno, the test says you're lying. Are you sure there's not anything you want to tell me?"

It doesn't work for objectively detecting dishonesty. That part is myth and theater. However, it does work as a way of directing an interrogation so as to maximize anxiety (since anxiety is more or less what the polygraph actually measures).

It also backfires often on those that take medications designed to reduce anxiety or ptsd. It's a stupid practice that's not even recognized in courts.

It's funny how people will mock scientology and their emeter and then look at this and say it's normal.


From what I've read about it, it works to some extent as long as people believe in it. They want to get their clearance and believe cheating could be detected, so they tend to be more truthful. It's based on intimidation and observation. The examination starts when you enter the building and stops when you leave it.

Something that tells the truth inconsistently and nondeterministically sounds worse for our society than just asking the question under oath.

It's not inconsistent though. It's never caught a single spy. So it's got a 100% false negative rate. That's very consistent and reliable.

> If they know polygraph doesn't work, why do they still do it?

The airport is not the only security theater the Americans operate :)


The real reason: it's an excellent pretext to interrogate your employees with a prop to convince them to spill any beans they might be holding.

Because belief is not rational. The people that passed the polygraph tests and administer them to others may acknowledge the flaws but they still 'know' that a lie detector is the best they have got. They also know that some people will just confess at the thought of being wired up to such a machine, to give evidence that, unlike the lie detector, is admissible in court.

The most interesting story is how the authorities nabbed the guy who was most dedicated to dismissing the lie-detector baloney:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/12/polygraph-cr...

His consulting work of helping people pass lie detectors was his downfall. Had he just stuck to campaigning against the lie detector and not wanting to offer services to those needing to pass a lie detector test then all would have been okay for him and he would not be having to serve one of those silly 100 year sentences that American justice demands.


This is AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke. I didn't offer services to those needing to pass lie detector test. AntiPolygraph.org only provides information, all of it free, in the public interest. But it appears that I, too, was targeted for entrapment:

https://antipolygraph.org/blog/2013/11/03/an-attempted-entra...


He was sentenced to 2 years btw

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/23/douglas-wil...

Still absolutely mindbogglingly. The whole situation reminds me to much on the emperors new clothes.


Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18099488

It does somewhat work in the same way that homeopathy somewhat works. The placebo effect of convincing people that it works produces some results on naive people.

Not to mention that eliminating the polygraph would require someone to admit that they were wrong about using a polygraph.


>Similarly, I urge my children to steer clear of any job that requires a polygraph. That rules out entire professions: National Security, Intelligence, Law Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and Pharmacy.

Pharmacists need to take polygraphs? I never thought about that. Is this to prevent pharmacists from dealing drugs? Is this a strictly US thing, or doe pharmacists in say Europe also take quasi routine polygraphs?


I think polygraphs are an American thing in general. In Central Europe you literally never hear about them. I think the population believes they are bogus, so they're unpopular.

I would hope this is true. But sadly I am not so sure:

I live in Ghent, Belgium, a developed Western European nation. You can look up a lot of debate by googling "paragnost politie" and you will see results from Belgium, Netherlands, ... basically psychics, mediums and hypnotists working for / with the police.

I think it was about 10 years ago (very rough guess) when I read in an article that the local police (perhaps just Ghent, perhaps nationwide) fired the last paragnosts. In the mean while perhaps they still don't use them, perhaps they have reverted back to using them...

Intelligence and superstition form a very bad couple...


The only thing I could think through reading this madness is as if the author was in the movie Brazil.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil_(1985_film)


>To their credit, DIA didn't tell any other agencies they'd taken my badge and debriefed me. Weeks later, my CIA clearances were still active.

I believe the polygraph is junk, but how is it to the DIA's credit that they don't notify other agencies when an employee fails a background check?

I also think the author is taking things too personally. I agree it seems like a strange and poor requirement that you sit in a chair and be berated or called a liar for a few hours but it also doesn't seem so horrible. If this is the best the agency can do for interrogation and background checks - so be it. If you don't like doing that then find a different job.


> A few years into my Agency career, I took a battery of vocational and aptitude tests including the MMPI, a personality inventory.

BTW, the MMPI is completely invalid scientifically, which is obvious from researching its history. Also, if anyone is interested in beating the MMPI, by learning how to give any particular result, it requires work and memorization since there's such a large number of questions and categories, but it's possible with study.


> That rules out entire professions: ... and Pharmacy.

Pharmacy in the is requires a polygraph? I didn't expect that. It's not required in other Commonwealth countries as far as I know.


The USA is not a Commonwealth country - they formally lost that membership when they declared independence (and informally when they dumped a shipment of tea into a harbour).

If you are going to get specific about history like that, then we formally lost that membership with the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War, not the Declaration of Independence, which formalized why we started fighting it.

In the United States, the Employee Polygraph Protection act includes blanket exemptions for federal, state, and local governmental agencies, as well as exemptions for security services (such as guards who transport cash) and for those who handle or transport drugs.

And many states prohibit polygraphs for all private-sector employers.

That's because mi5 and 6 in the 50' thought it was a load of hokum and had a lot of influence with the commonwealth nations.

A little bit unrelated: Are they any credible resources which give insights on how it is like to work for these three letter agencies?

they're a bit dated but you should check out phil agee's books. his first one in particular was very scandalous.

I just finished reading Deadly Deciepts by Ralph McGehee and this basically aligns well with how he describes the CIA. It's his memoirs of spending 25 years in the CIA and the bureaucratic shit show of a government job that it is. It would likely make a good comedy if they weren't responsible for so much pain and misery in the world.

Perhaps these polys are practice for should they be caught in the field and interrogated by enemy agents?

[flagged]


This breaks the site guidelines, both because it's ideological flamewar, and more subtly because it doesn't do this:

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize."

Can you please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and follow the rules when posting here?

TuGuQuKu 9 days ago [flagged]

Please follow this rule when reading my posts:

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize."

You've disappointed me with your disingenuous misinterpretation of my comment and I strongly suggest you no longer reply to my posts.


It seems clear from your account history that you don't want to use HN as intended, so I've banned the account.

If you decide you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.


[flagged]


Would you please stop posting flamebait to HN and breaking the site guidelines in sundry ways? We ban accounts that do that, and you've done it a lot.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Oh no! You allow politically charged articles that have nothing to with tech and are inherently divisive, then pull the thought police bullshit when the kitchen gets hot.

If you don’t want nasty discussion maybe apply the guidelines to the fucking articles not just the comments.


>I felt like Neville Longbottom when he drew the sword of Gryffindor and advanced on Lord Voldemort.

Oh gosh please no, what an utter embarassment to read.




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