In the first phase, you go over your security forms (SF-86 and related) in detail with your polygraph examiner. They ask a lot of detailed questions, sometimes including things you aren't legally required to disclose (drug use and foreign travel outside the listed time limits).
In the second phase, they hook you up to the polygraph and ask two series of very specific questions, one called "lifestyle" and one called "national security." Lifestyle questions include questions about drug use, possible crimes, etc., and national security questions include questions about foreign contacts, involvement in terrorism, etc. They're very specific, like "Are you withholding any information about your involvement with illegal drugs in the past ten years?"
About half the time (based on my discussions with other prospective interns), the examiner becomes convinced you're lying about one of these questions and really drills into you. Most of the polygraph examiners are past FBI or CIA interrogators, so they know how to make you very uncomfortable.
I was explicitly told that I failed my first polygraph (the examiner was convinced I used more drugs than I let on), but some of the other interns were drilled about crazier things, like contacts with foreign governments or involvement with terrorist groups.
If you're particularly desirable to the managers who're looking to hire you, they'll keep inviting you to take more polygraphs, and you'll eventually pass.
I ended up turning down the NSA internship for better opportunities after realizing that NSA folks are not the most fun people in the world to hang out with.
No they weren’t. They merely pretended they were convinced. It’s all part of the act to make you nervous.
I got "have you ever committed a crime" (and after a actually pretty cool conversation about filesharing vs recording songs off the radio with a tape recorder, I passed). A friend of mine got "have you ever had sex with animals." I don't think he enjoyed his experience quite as much.
I'd be throwing in the word "Traitor" if it were me, but only on the basis that it is absolutely true.
But maybe I'm being to generous.
Now, I am no expert on these things, but something tells me that they are doing this wrong.
"All of your previous polygraph tests indicated to us that you couldn't be trusted as far as we could throw you, however your latest one clearly shows that you have suddenly become as honest as the day is long. Welcome to the team."
You can also be prosecuted for lying, since the polygraph examiners are federal investigators.
That part is not true. Polygraph examiners are not sworn federal law enforcement officers. But they are happy to refer any of your admissions of guilt to federal law enforcement who may come ask you the same questions. Lying to them is a criminal offense.
Now that I say that, though, I can't find a reference to support this.
More precisely, it's a violation of 18 USC 1001 to lie about "any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States" (with a couple of specific exceptions as given). Technically you don't even have to lie to a Federal official since the statute doesn't specify that; it just has to be a matter "within the jurisdiction" of the Federal government.
In my case, I was extremely open and honest with the main investigator that I was interviewed by, including the things I did during college with recreational pharmaceuticals. I told all my friends to just "tell the truth" about what they saw happen.
I think my biggest benefit there was telling the story about how I saw that kind of stuff tear lives apart, and turn people who had been best friends into worst enemies, and the negative follow-on impacts of what happens when you can't pay your rent, you can't pay your electric bills, etc... because you have this debt to someone else that suddenly must be repaid this afternoon.
I'm coming very close to being 100% eligible for my security clearness but some of those questions would be tricky for me right now.
I've often wondered if I could round 8 years up to 10 to pass a polygraph.
HOWEVER: law enforcement agencies are quite a different story and tend to be much stricter in their requirements. Some, like the FBI, have public drug qualifier policies you will need to meet  and there is no wiggle room (1 day short of 10 years and you're 100% ineligible). Some agencies do not publish this policy (i.e. Secret Service) and you have to guess whether you're eligible.
The most important thing to remember is that whatever you admit on these forms will be on record for review by any agency for the rest of your life. DO NOT try to give extract or estimated numbers of usage on your SF-86 unless they are exceedingly low numbers. You can be honest with your background investigator during the followup but there's no reason to commit those things to writing on a form that's likely to be easily accessible later on.
I was pretty honest about my drug use. The way they phrase the questions sometimes leaves you with a bit of doubt, though. Like, "How many times did you use this drug?" I'm not sure who keeps a really diligent record of how many times they do drugs at parties.
But, yeah, I tried to be as accurate as possible, modulo that doubt about how possible it is to accurately answer these questions.
I have no idea what the rules are now.
At my time I was told that all interviews at a certain exit off I-95 in Maryland were done by FBI.
I expect several people reading your note might also have gone through this process and failed. Interested to hear if anyone has successfully retrieved transcripts using a FOIA request.
I used this to my advantage on more than one occasion, when the gaming group I was with was a bit too casual with their use of certain recreational pharmaceuticals. I told them straight out that my job required a lifestyle poly and random urinalysis, and that if they decided to do that to me the next morning, then I would be totally giving up my friends to the examiners. That usually convinced them to be more careful.
Strangely, the government never actually gave me a polygraph or urinalysis test, ever.
This sounds unreasonably intrusive IMO. What if you have a couple thousand acquaintances and friends around the world?
Maybe this person has a better understanding of what's going on around the world and how different cultures work, possibly speaks multiple languages, and it might be a good thing to welcome their knowledge instead of scaring them off?
The application will provide an opportunity to disclose foreign contacts.
Having thousands of friends and acquaintances around the world may well be disqualifying for certain positions, and assets for others.
Then that's what you say in response to the question.
Have the subject write down a random number from 1 to 1024. Perhaps this random number is assigned via a phone app. Have the subject put the paper in his pocket.
An maximally accurate polygraph will require no more than 10 questions to determine the number in the subject's pocket.
[However, I think we all know what the result would be, which is why nobody publishes a simple calibration like the above: It is not in an trained examiner's interest to expose the inaccuracy of polygraphs.]
Which begs the issue: If a lie detector is accurate only for answers that are stressful, then it sure looks like we need a detector to figure out if an answer is stressful or not.
Or to put it differently, now you have two problems: Lie detection and stressful-answer detection.
Nevertheless, I concede that your beer detection plan is superior.
Therefore I too must concede that the beer plan is flawless.
Doesn't mean they don't work as an intimidation tactic. Though most of the agencies that use them are probably filtering out a lot of good employees by putting them through a test designed to mess with them. Instead of focusing on whether the person has the skills needed for the job.
People need jobs and are willing to put up with lots. Going through with a polygraph is likely just one of a number of the things that people in these industries have to put up with.
Granted, I did not participate in any polygraph sessions used for the purposes of information gathering; more to confirm information already in the open.
Why did you agree to take the polygraph?
> Like if you don't answer right we're headed to your place to search everything.
If in the US they can't do that (w/o a court order which they would not get solely based on the way you are describing the situation).
> I guess it was the right answer.
The right answer would have been to not take the polygraph test at all and not to talk to them.
I wanted to keep my job. I didn't want the cops to find my weed (campus housing) and maybe get kicked out of college. Nobody had threatened to fire me and I may well have made the wrong decision. But I was very easy to replace and the condominium was full of paranoid rich people with lots of time on their hands.
I get the comments that it's an "enhanced interrogation technique", but it sounds like it requires the subjects to be at least a bit intimidated by it. If someone pointed a dowsing stick at you, you wouldn't be the slightest bit intimidated by it, no matter how mean looking it was.
What kind of strange culture lets a prop straight out of a 50s sci-fi flick instill respect in people? And how they do it? Surely it can't just be the Hollywood movies?
Sorry for breaking out in a bit of a rant, but I seriously can't wrap my mind around how these things could possibly be useful.
Now add biometrics. It's not like the polygraph is separable from the interrogator. It's a question of establishing a baseline and watching for deviations that gain significance based on experience and knowledge. The polygraph enhances the ability of the interrogator in terms of their access to biometric data of the subject, and ancillary to that is the intimidation factor that the subject feels knowing the interrogator may be more aware of your biometrics than the subject themselves.
We might as well be determining guilt and innocence with a block of Kryptonite or by flipping a batarang. It’s ridiculous that it is still allowed.
Thankfully my interviewer was much nice and seemed to give me multiple tries, telling me that they might do another one later if I really failed.
Overall the interview process was OK. I guess the only invasive part was when they interviewed my neighbors in person without telling me. (When the FBI comes knocking on your door, you freak out)
I also turned down the internship because the pay was abysmal for IT. $15 an hour.
So the story goes, they only did that because the Defense Investigative Service didn't have anyone who could do the job locally, and so DIS must have asked around to find out who could do the job for them. But DIS agents definitely talked to various friends from college and other neighbors I had over the years.
Apparently only my grandparents got the visit from the Secret Service.
Well, there goes everyone.
But there is no need to make a majority into a universal here.
They only got him because other sources implicated him, and because his finances were notably out of whack for a government employee.
But they knew her character, and even though she didn't pass she didn't have any problem or lose her job.
If you wanna be a senior sys admin for bed bath and beyond, you 'll be probably getting one.
Huh. I was a very senior 'sys admin' type for an enormous retailer for over a decade, and polygraphs never came up for me or anyone else there.
Any idea why bed bath and beyond is into such a thing?
That was for a contractor position, not regular employment.
PS. Also drug testing.
How does that clear the Employee Polygraph Protection Act?
Pretty clear sign of a messed up company culture.
That's not the kind of company you want to get involved, ever. If they do that during _hiring_ ...
Hence the conflict between the promoters and the detractors, proving that it works would make it no longer work.
It's very easy to get false convictions, and to make people believe false memories. There have been widely replicated experiments.
The more ignorant will answer: it’s obviously true because they confessed. Nobody would confess to a crime they didn’t commit.
The more evil answer is: who cares? The public is reassured by a self-admitted criminal going to prison and I get re-elected.
The Generation Why podcast will occasionally raise the point that if you try the same case more than once, you often get different results. Which really raises questions. Why didn't the judge allow certain information into the trial the first time, but another judge did the second time? How was the prosecution able to withhold information from the defense? Why on Earth did the jury find the defendant guilty despite no evidence tying them to the crime? Or in some cases, the opposite is true. How did the jury find the defendant innocent with that much evidence against them?
Any information you receive verbally from a single source is not very reliable regardless of how it was obtained.
In other words, it's pseudo-scientific bullshit.
It's pseudoscience. They might as well have [measured the size of your head] to make their decision.
And I would tell them to check my shoe and see that there is no thumbtack there. And check my cheek to prove that I'm not biting it in secret. And otherwise expose all the other methods that I know of, and prove that I'm not using any of them.
I'm sure that I would have frustrated the hell out of them, and they would have made damn sure that I always failed the tests, every time.
The answer does not convey any information whatsoever.
I've had a few experiences in my past that, when brought to memory, cause fairly large adrenaline spikes. Certainly, the memories increase my heart rate by just thinking intently about them.
In theory... couldn't you bring these thoughts to memory - at random? When asked about what you had for breakfast, for example. It would appear as an anomaly... But if you did that often enough, the interviewer couldn't trust the anomalies.
There's no magic to it, you just have to really not give a shit about anything really. In the context of the US government, they want workers that are first and foremost, resilient to manipulation. Historically, the biggest traitors in the country have been money-driven, hence the emphasis on identifying huge debt areas. Such debt can be leveraged against people easily. The other thing to consider is, do you think they want someone that's too honest? What about in the scenario that you're being interrogated by a foreign agency, you're telling the truth but you're sweating balls. A polygrapher can latch onto these signs and use them against you. And someone that's emotionless and doesn't really give a shit about anything good or bad? Pass the polygraph with flying colors, have fun swaying someone that can't be bought off nor exempts guilt.
Or "bite mark analysis" (don't google that, it will ruin your day as well).
I am sure, she has valuable input, seeing she is a criminal mastermind who avoided capture for a cool 15+ years.
Aldrich Ames didn't appear to have any trouble passing his, but I can't help but think if they added some phrenology in, they maybe could have caught him.
It was only years later while reading a book about the Shin Bet (Israeli military intelligence), I recognized the way I was manipulated.
No hard feelings, after all I was telling the truth, and I probably would have hated the job anyway.
There were a lot of interesting questions in the psych interview, from porn use to romantic relationships and digital pirating...
And, just spitballing, I wonder if it's a crime to lie in the psych interview. I know it is during the polygraph, since the examiners are federal investigators.
And the technique basically was to spend about 15 minutes having possibly the most uncomfortable conversation I've ever had about sexual relationships, pornography, sexual fantasies, etc. -- none of which they actually cared about. The intent was to make me as absolutely uncomfortable as possible. Then he moved on to a few quick questions about drug and alcohol use, which was such a relief, that before I realized what I was doing, I had answered fully and truthfully.
Amusingly, before polygraphing me I was asked if I had "read anything online" about the process, to which I shrugged and said "Hasn't everybody?" The entire process is ridiculous.
Michael from VSauce already tried to countermeasure this method and failed.
Would something like Phenibut suffice I wonder?
You can cheat a polygraph by flexing your anal sphincter.
I think it's interesting because it somewhat supports the claim. If clinching didn't work or help in some way, why bother including a motion detector under your backside.
Remove the clinching illusion and you restore the polygraph illusion to that group.
I think you're exactly right. The fact that the "butt pad" is there means that you have to believe that clinching would have any effect one way or the other. So the butt pad is really just part of the overage mirage.
Imagining that I’m running gets my heart rate up, I can keep my breathing consistent, and the finest sensor detects perspiration changes on your finger which is the toughest but also a mental game.
Finally you need to consider the psychology of the tester or institution testing you. There are irrelevant questions that may not be yes or no questions, but its often more important for you to not be a free thinking paralegal expert and instead a soldier that complies.
So if the question is “have you illegal downloaded mp3s” the answer isn't “the consumer doesnt have the burden of knowing if the provider owns the copyright or associated license and copyright infringement only occurs if you share it” its just “no”, but if you can rationalize your compliance with the legal defense then it will be seamless to say “no” without showing an anomaly on the polygraph
Also congratulations you're a sociopath now, just focus on your breathing
More targeted followup questions may be worse. Stuff like acting on impulses, doing stuff that you could be blackmailed for, seeking out materials, etc...
People see questions on the forms and think that answering yes anywhere means no job, but what they really want to know is if someone can get leverage over you to betray their trust and if you can show a good level of judgement and maturity.
now lets address how the federal government exempted itself in being able to use lie detector tests for employment when we know it doesn't work
the point is that the rationale is flawed. "but muh blackmail" yeah the ENTIRE private sector wanted to use that excuse too.
Asking someone to pretend to lie in a lab environment, like say responding to "What's your name?" with the wrong answer on purpose, won't elicit the kind of arousal response we want to record like "Did you steal this car?". There's just not a good way to standardize and measure this kind of response without deceiving the participant - you might do some kind of social research on them and ask them questions they aren't prepared for, but understandably no IRB would allow that.
>Notwithstanding the limitations of the quality of the empirical research and the limited ability to generalize to real-world settings, we conclude that in populations of examinees such as those represented in the polygraph research literature, untrained in countermeasures, specific-incident polygraph tests can discriminate lying from truth telling at rates well above chance, though well below perfection.
Although it is not a silver bullet, it certainly has its applications, especially if the person being interviewed believes it works. Thus, the polygraph test makes sense in questioning sex offenders, for example:
The whole premise of a lie-detector test is that they are marketed to end user and the public at large as being both accurate and "scientific." That they yield results better than chance isn't particularly relevant: they are not what the sellers and users of them claim they are. The conclusions drawn from the readings of the machines are only loosely based on anything scientific and depend heavily on the interviewer's own personal biases. Yet they determine the fate of people's lives all the time.
Polygraphs are almost certainly not reliable enough to convict someone on, but it's not admissible in court. That doesn't mean it can't be used to help coerce a confession or help lead an investigation. And the fact that you won't face up to the extraordinary amount of evidence showing that it can be useful suggests stubborn ignorance on your behalf.
So can tarot cards, and magic 8 balls. polygraphs are bullshit pseudoscience and 100% interchangeable with any other fake bullshit when combined with a experienced examiner and an ignorant/gullible interviewee
Glossing over or attempting to detract from the grossly negative consequences doesn't automatically arrive at the conclusion that it's resultantly a "good" thing.
 - https://www.innocenceproject.org/polygraph-tests-contribute-...