The Instigator
alex1094
Pro (for)
Winning
22 Points
The Contender
tylersch96
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Lie Detectors (Polygraphs) should not be used in court

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
alex1094
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/28/2012 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,472 times Debate No: 25308
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (5)

 

alex1094

Pro

My contention is that the machine known as the 'polygraph' which purportedly ascertains whether an individual is telling a false or truthful answer should not be used in court.

If anybody disagrees with me then I look forward to debating with them.

First round is acceptance.

Good luck.
tylersch96

Con

I will accept. My impression is that I would be debating why polygraphs should be used in court cases.
Debate Round No. 1
alex1094

Pro

Thank you for accepting my debate.

The accuracy of polygraphs

My primary argument will be based around the unscientific and inaccurate results produced by the polygraph, the negative effects of a misreading in a court case being obvious.

Polygraphs work by measuring blood pressure, pulse, skin conductivity and respiration during an interrogation scenario. The more modern version of the polygraph is the CQT test, so I'll argue against the validity of this one. It works by using a 'control question' which asks a vague question about a past misdeed and intends to garner a concerned reaction or if possible a lie. (1) An example could be “Have you ever taken an illegal drug?” Or “Have you ever lied to a person in a position of authority?”

The idea is that it is highly likely that you have committed one of these misdeeds in the past and the control question will provide an example of what your physiological reactions to lies look like. Itfurther assumes that innocent people, because they are being truthful when they answer relevant questions "no," will be relatively unaroused by these questions. Guilty individuals, even though presumably lying to both questions, are expected to respond more strongly to the relevant question because it carries greater significance. (1)

Therefore, for this method to hold two assumptions must be made, an innocent individual must give a greater response to control than relevant questions and guilty individuals must respond more intensely to relevant than control questions. It is obvious that both of these assumptions could be challenged, either intentionally or unintentionally.


A major limitation of this method is that it does not offer an adequate psychological control for the emotional impact of being asked the accusatory relevant question and most innocent individuals are savvy enough to understand that whether they pass or fail the test will depend on how they respond to the relevant questions rather than to the trivial issues covered by the control questions. (1) One of the main factors behind the polygraph is the belief that lying is associated with anxiety and the accompanying physiological arousal, however it fails to take into account the fact that manyinnocent people will respond with the same arousal when accused, even if they are telling the truth.



This is the primary reason why the polygraph is biased against innocent individuals.



The idea that a guilty person would be aroused more with relevant questions than control questions is unlikely due to the fact that a guilty individual can artificially augment their responses to control questions. Countermeasures which have been shown to achieve this include curling your toes, lightly biting your tongue, or performing mental arithmetic when control questions are asked. (2) Due to the fact that these techniques cannot be observed they can't be regulated either and they therefore remain unknown to the examiner. Websites such as (3) and many others provide these methods for anyone curious enough to look. The work of Honts et al (1994) show that more than 50% of guilty individuals defeat the polygraph when using similar methods.



A short list of famous polygraph-related miscarriages of justice:

  • US spy and double agent Aldrich Ames passed two polygraphs while working for the Soviet Union. He described how he passed as “There's no special magic...Confidence is what does it. Confidence and a friendly relationship with the examiner... rapport, where you smile and you make him think that you like him.” (4)

  • Karl Koecher (5)

    Ana Belen Montes (5)

  • Leandro Aragoncillo (5)

  • Nada Nadim Prouty (5)

  • Serial Killer Gary Ridgeway passed a polygraph in 1984, confessing 20 years later when confronted with DNA evidence. (6)

  • Bill Wegerle was forced to live under the suspicion of killing his wife for twenty years after he failed two polygraphs (one police administered and the other given by an expert.) The real killer, Dennis Rader, was found in 2004 thanks to DNA evidence. (7)

Scientific Opinion

The scientific community widely holds the polygraph in a poor light as an extremely flawed and unscientific way of ascertaining guilt. In 1978 Richard Helms, the 8th Director of Central Intelligence, stated that: "We discovered there were some Eastern Europeans who could defeat the polygraph at any time. Americans are not very good at it, because we are raised to tell the truth and when we lie it is easy to tell we are lying. But we find a lot of Europeans and Asiatics who can handle that polygraph without a blip, and you know they are lying and you have evidence that they are lying.” (8) The New Scientist describes them as “notoriously unreliable” and “the world's most inappropriately named technology.” (9) A 2003 review by the US National Academy of Sciences came to the conclusion that lie detectors are better than the toss of a coin but fall far short of the accuracy required. (9) The former Supervisory Special Agent of the FBI Laboratory DivisionDr. Drew C. Richardson described polygraph screenings as “completely without any theoretical foundation and has absolutely no validity...the diagnostic value of this type of testing is no more than that of astrology or tea-leaf reading." (10) According to a comprehensive 2002 review by a federal panel of distinguished scientists. The study found that if polygraphs were administered to a group of 10,000 people, nearly 1,600 innocent people would fail the test. (11)




These studies, articles and cases clearly demonstrate that the polygraph is a deeply flawed machine which is extremely prone to mistakes. There are still many more articles and studies out there that I do not have the character count to mention, but I happily will next round. Now all there is left to say is the very obvious point that what we do not want is for this problematic and poorly designed machine to be used to determine the innocence/guilt of a defendant. In 1998 Supreme Court Case 'United States vs Scheffer' it was stated that "Unlike other expert witnesses who testify about factual matters outside the jurors' knowledge, such as the analysis of fingerprints, ballistics, or DNA found at a crime scene, a polygraph expert can supply the jury only with another opinion..." (12) This conveys the accurate point that the polygraph is just that, a subjective opinion. If a juror is undecided the polygraph may nudge them in its own direction, which may well be the wrong one, it provides an opinion which seems definitive and objective, but in reality is misleading. Imagine for a moment if in the Bill Wegerle case I mentioned above he had been convicted due to the faulty polygraph reading, he would've been in prison for twenty years before they found the real killer. Then imagine this repeated thousands of times with other innocent individuals.

Thanks for reading.

I look forward to Con's response and I hope he won't only use statistics from advocacy websites or ones which sell polygraphs.

Sources

(1) http://antipolygraph.org... (Forensic "Lie Detection": Procedures Without Scientific Basis by William G. Iacono, PhD)

  1. (Honts, Raskin, & Kircher, 1994)

  2. http://www.police-test.net...

  1. http://articles.dailypress.com...

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org...

  3. http://en.wikipedia.org...

  4. http://www.cbsnews.com...

  5. http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu...

  6. http://www.newscientist.com...

  7. http://www.police-test.net...

  8. http://www.washingtonpost.com...

  9. United States v. Scheffer. March 31 1998

tylersch96

Con

"A polygraph is an instrument that records certain physiological changes in a person undergoing questioning in an effort to obtain truth or deception. A polygraph simultaneously records a minimum of respiratory activity, galvanic skin resistance/conductivity and cardiovascular activity.

In 1961 Davis presented three hypotheses to explain the effectiveness of the polygraph technique. One of these concepts related to fear of consequences. When a subject recognises that he or she faces negative consequences for their actions i.e. imprisonment, financial loss or embarrassment if a deception is discovered, he or she becomes fearful of that outcome. This emotional reaction activates the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and such changes are monitored and subsequently recorded.

Polygraphy or psychophysiological detection of deception is based upon a scientific theory that can be tested with the methods of science. Any conscious effort at deception by a rational individual causes involuntary and uncontrollable physiological responses which include measurable reactions in blood pressure, peripheral pulse-amplitude, breathing and electrodermal response. The most commonly used techniques for the psychophysiological detection of deception are control/comparison question tests. The control question test (CQT) assesses a person's credibility by looking for a differential reaction between two questions: the relevant and comparison questions. It has been shown that a person will develop a "psychological set" and direct their attention to the question that posses the greatest anxiety, concern or threat to his/her well being.

Current Usage

Polygraph testing is currently being used in more than 50 countries in the fields of corrections, criminal investigations, intelligence/counter intelligence and civil matters. In the United States alone all federal law enforcement agencies either employ their own polygraph examiners or use the services of examiners employed in other agencies. Examiners and quality control programs exist in the FBI, US. Secret Service, US Army CID, US Marine Corps CID, Air Force OSI, Navy NCIS, US Customs, US Marshals, Defence Criminal Investigation Service, Internal Revenue Service, US Capitol Police, Food & Drug Administration, Department of Energy, Central Intelligence Agency, Police & County Sheriff's departments, sex therapists and numerous other investigative bodies.

Law enforcement agencies using the polygraph do so predicated on the basis that it is an important investigative aid, but not a substitute for standard investigative techniques. For decades the law enforcement community has used polygraph testing as an investigative aid to: verify the statements of victims; establish the credibility of witnesses; evaluate the truthfulness of suspects and to help exonerate the innocent who is surrounded by circumstantial or uncorroborated evidence. During 1996, the US Department of Defence conducted over 12,000 polygraph examinations. In recent years the US Department of Defence has used the polygraph in 95% of criminal investigations pertaining to crimes for which the maximum penalty is 15 years or more. Such use accounted for the army solving 64.7% of felony cases compared with the national average of 19.5%

Polygraph technology is now also gaining acceptance in Sex Offender Treatment Programs when testing convicted serial sex offenders whilst on parole or probation. Today a very high number of pedophiles on probation in the states of Oregon and Washington are currently under polygraph surveillance and maintenance programs as part of their parole conditions. The success of the Jackson County Sex Offender Treatment Program (JCSOTP) in Oregon has been so great that other states including California, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Massachusetts, Indiana and Colorado have adopted the use of polygraph examinations in the supervision, treatment and monitoring of sex offenders on parole and probation.

Legal Aspects

The polygraph examination is, and can only be, a voluntary process. Major technical and computerised advances in technology have been made in the field of polygraphy in the last decade. The development of Zone of Comparison Testing (ZCT) formats, control questions, and validated testing procedures together with ongoing training and research into the validity and reliability of such testing has continued to enhance the utility of the science. This has led to the admission of polygraph results into evidence in all Federal Circuit Courts in the USA, and into 36 of the 50 US States on a stipulated bases (where defence and prosecuting attorneys agree to its admission). In 1989, the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals stated "…based on what it considers to be significant progress in the field of polygraphy in recent years, …it now takes the position that such evidence is generally accepted in the scientific community."

Supporting the legal use of the polygraph in criminal investigations, legal author and expert on the common law, Wigmore (1970), noted three probative uses of the polygraph with respect to criminal investigation, namely:

The observer may use it as a clue to obtaining external data which can otherwise be used in evidence;
The disclosure of the lie may impress the subject with the apparent futility of trying to conceal the facts, and may thus lead to a voluntary confession before trail; and
The recorded curves may reveal a general emotional consciousness of guilt… and can serve to guide police investigators in their hypotheses.

The United States Supreme Court has held that a Miranda warning before a polygraph examination is sufficient to allow admissibility of a confession that follows an examination. In most courts in the United States that admit polygraph evidence under stipulation the trier of fact has to weigh up the probative value of the matter against the prejudicial effect upon the defendant.
Professor David Lykken PhD from the University of Minnesota has written that "Judicious use of the polygraph in the criminal investigation context not only can improve the efficiency of police work but could also serve as a bulwark to protect the innocent from false prosecution. In fact, I believe that the police use the polygraph too infrequently… if used wisely, polygraphing can greatly facilitate police work."

Within the Australian context there are no legal impediments to the use of polygraph testing as an investigative tool other than the Lie Detectors Act NSW 1983 which prevents testing in certain circumstances.

Validity and Reliability

In the past 75 years over 250 studies have been conducted on the accuracy of polygraph

testing. Since 1980, 10 separate studies based on 1,909 real cases showed that the accuracy rate for truthful subjects was 97% and for deceptive subjects, 98%. There have been more published studies done on polygraph accuracy, validity and reliability than on handwriting analysis which is routinely admitted into evidence on a daily basis.

Although sceptics of polygraph techniques have expressed concern that polygraph testing is not 100% accurate one needs to consider that there is no one scientific technique in dealing with humans that is 100% accurate including psychiatry and psychological assessments regarding clinical diagnosis. Classification of psychological disorders, although subjective, are often challenged by other experts and, at times, incorrectly diagnosed. Cross contamination has occurred in DNA testing, fingerprints have been wrongly classified, handwriting evidence has been misinterpreted and eye witnesses make mistakes. Furthermore, admissibility does not necessarily mean that evidence is valid. Note how invalid eyewitness and psychiatric findings can be, and often are, legally and judiciously recognized as admissible evidence."
http://www.nettrace.com.au...
Debate Round No. 2
alex1094

Pro

Okay, copying and pasting your ENTIRE argument from a single website in bulk does in any shape or form constitute constructing a response.

It is plagiarism and a very lazy plagiarism at that.


This is grounds for an automatic loss.

tylersch96

Con

If you noticed i put the passage in " and also sited the website but whateever i will take it if u would like.
Debate Round No. 3
alex1094

Pro

Just because you copied/pasted the website address and used speech marks does not mean it constitutes an argument.

Not only did you copy and paste your entire argument but you did it from only one website. It must've taken you about thirty seconds...


A Vote For Pro Will Be A Vote For People Who Actually Write Their Debates!
tylersch96

Con

fine whatever i will come out of this with my head held high.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by RationalMadman 5 years ago
RationalMadman
alex you will win this i'm sure.
Posted by RationalMadman 5 years ago
RationalMadman
Now this is a good use of your polygraph argument.
Posted by RationalMadman 5 years ago
RationalMadman
Now this is a good use of your polygraph argument.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Doulos1202 5 years ago
Doulos1202
alex1094tylersch96Tied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Con will not get very far by copy and pasting entire arguments. RFD: Pro actually had decent sources for his argument. Conduct for appropriately siting sources goes to Pro. Pro had a much more convincing arguments in regards of accuracy of polygraphs.
Vote Placed by adontimasu 5 years ago
adontimasu
alex1094tylersch96Tied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Con copy and pasted his whole argument, and then conceded. Conduct goes to Pro. Spelling and grammar for what little wasn't copied and pasted. Arguments because what was quoted did not actually support his claim too well, and did not counter many if any of the arguments, and sources because Pro used more sources with more reliable information. Victory: Pro.
Vote Placed by dylancatlow 5 years ago
dylancatlow
alex1094tylersch96Tied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro made better, more relevant arguments that Con did. Since Con likely copy and pasted his argument, I consider it invalid.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 5 years ago
16kadams
alex1094tylersch96Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded... 250 studies, only 10 of them prove his point. HE SAID THAT. And he just copy and pasted and effectively FFed two rounds...
Vote Placed by Clash 5 years ago
Clash
alex1094tylersch96Tied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: All of Con's arguments was plagiarized. Con admitted this at his last round. As Pro said: 'A Vote For Pro Will Be A Vote For People Who Actually Write Their Debates!'.