The worst risk in federal government use of polygraphs is believing their results, whether it's a result that clears the person who took the polygraph examination or one that implicates the person who took the polygraph examination. Pseudoscience is not a fact-finding tool.
It sounds odd, but maybe a mutual interrogation club could be a rewarding way to try this out. Like, person A tells you a secret and then locks you in a room with person B, who knows part but not all of the story and must try to extract an additional detail from you. One either side of the interrogation, you could learn a lot about high-stress psychological situations, and their impact on you and other people.
Gahhh, there's so much misinformation here. Most people have this idea of what a poly is thanks to TV and movies.
All I'm going to say is that polys are not fun for people who are insecure, have emotional/anxiety issues, or go in with the mindset that they have to "beat the test" or "outsmart the examiner". It's not a measure of psychological fortitude at all, and anyone who views the test as such will be extremely stressed out by it all.
The only legitimate reasons polys are stressful is because they waste half your day, coop you up in a room and tell you to stay as still as possible for most of the 4 hours. That's not really anybody's idea of fun. For the majority of people who don't let all the silly worries get to their head, you go in, chill out, tell the truth, and leave.
There are clearly lots of aspects of interrogation that are difficult in uninteresting ways, like sitting still for many hours. But the reason TV/movie interrogations are so intriguing to watch (and, I imagine, to act) is that they represent an unusual and intense interaction between people. People who are trying to manipulate each other in real time in pursuit of some valuable information, and willing to break a lot of normal social boundaries in that pursuit.
That certainly sounds like it entails some interesting psychological challenges. If I think I'm secure, relatively free of anxiety, and willing to engage in those challenges, maybe it would be a revealing and worthwhile endeavor?
A mock interrogation would not be very effective. The most important
aspect of a polygraph is leverage. There has to be an incentive for the
person being questioned (e.g. they want an out for committing a crime)
so that they want to tell the examiner the truth. There should also be
a real fear of failing the test. Your brother questioning you about who
stole the cookie from the cookie jar wouldn't cut it.
As far as I can tell, the goal of the test is to make you spill your
guts. You might consider yourself confident or be a pathological liar,
but when you're afraid of lying, your body will react to it. It's a
very unique experience and I don't think practicing lying or rehearsing
your responses would be useful. They'll dwell on questions that they
think you're trying to deceive them on and ask you over and over. Each
time, you'll give them a little more ("well, one time, but I didn't
inhale!") to get them off your back. They'll do the good cop/bad cop
routine and occasionally storm out of the room. Eventually, hours later,
you'll crack and think, "fuck it, I've already told them this much, might
as well give them the rest." At that point, you're probably crying or
look pretty distraught so they know they've got
Having a psychology background, I was curious about the test and somewhat disappointed that I didn't have to take it.
That's why I sometimes think it would be beneficial to do such experiments to better understand your character, your limitations and how you react under pressure...
Maybe a group of people who would pick one such experiment a week and have some administering the test and some receiving it would be fun....
I'm guessing that they are (in 4 hours) trying to simulate some of the pressures that go on when people are recruited and act as spies, and especially when they are blackmailed into spying. All the pressure tactics probably give testers a fair idea of how quickly people crack.
The government security clearance process seems to be very focused on recreational drug use history.
So in other words, getting you to admit to drug use would likely be a reasonable representation that they have ascertained "the whole truth" from you.
() Excluding alcohol and caffeine
To maintain a drug habit, one usually needs a relationship with a dealer, and drug dealers (in addition to being criminals) are generally pretty awful people. So, if you're a regular illegal drug user, there's someone out there who is (a) committing a serious crime, (b) probably of bad moral character, and (c) knows that you've done something illegal. Although it's extremely unlikely that a drug dealer is going to blackmail his clients into revealing state secrets, putting oneself into such a position is taken as a sign of bad judgment.
The second issue with drug use (as pertains to the psychedelics, most of which are not illegal, e.g. salvia) is the risk attitude it shows. Drug use is taken as an indicator for how a person handles low-frequency risks with very high loss potential. Since no one who hasn't used psychedelics can understand their subjective effects and risks, a person who takes a mind-altering drug is undertaking at least an epistemic risk of blowing out his mind. There's obviously a valid philosophical debate regarding how the risks of drug use compare to those of other pleasurable activities (sex, skydiving) and, frankly, I don't think psychedelic drug use is worse, from a cost/benefit perspective, than a host of "normal", socially acceptable human behaviors. However, the psychological risk inherent in drug use is taken by government agencies to be fairly singular: people who die in skydiving accidents don't present a risk of revealing state secrets or creating image problems for government agencies.
Really though, the long interrogation time is probably so because people eventually become uncomfortable, being in the same state for such a long time. They want to see how you react in that situation.
There might well be good and valid reasons for any or all of these organizational choices, but I too have a choice in the matter. And I choose not.
It's used as more of a method to trick you into telling the truth than it is to detect lies. I don't think it's very easy to beat unless you teach yourself how to regulate your heartbeat.
You don't have to control your hartbeat, you have to overreact to control questions (performing heavy mental calculations combined with holding your breath 2 seconds will do the trick!), so your (normal) response to the important questions will be less severe in comparison.
If your response to control question is stronger than your response to relevant questions, you pass the test. It that simple.
There's a sensor that's strapped around your chest. If your breathing is
irregular, they'll detect it. Also, doing anything mentally draining
while someone is asking you a question and answering it correctly is not
easy. At some point, you're going to have to focus on the
question. You'd have to be able to consistently deceive them for every
question and keep at it for several hours.
They don't necessarily tell you which questions are the control and
they'll slip in questions that you'll have to think about and answer
honestly. They'll catch your baseline with those. At times, they'll intentionally try
to agitate you by accusing you of lying. It's difficult to
keep cool and it will throw you off balance. You'll forget that you were
trying to trick them.
The government knows about all of these stupid little tricks. People
used to put pins in their shoe or contract their anal sphincter muscle
to generate a response. Examiners now have sensors under your feet and
ass. These tests aren't designed to simply detect that you're
lying. They want to push your buttons and make you crack.
You can be stubborn about it and lie and insist that they've got it wrong, but your reading will show that you're holding back on them. If they sense that you're trying to deceive them, they'll fail you.