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Lie detector is bunk


February 2, 2015 Letters to the Editor

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I would like to applaud Butler County District Attorney Richard Goldinger in his decision not to honor the polygraph deal for Roger Young, as proposed by one of Goldinger’s assistants at Young’s preliminary hearing (“DA won’t honor lie detector deal,” Jan. 29, Page 1).

Not only would the deal have been inappropriate considering the charges’ gravity and video evidence on which the Butler Eagle has already reported, but it would endanger justice by placing it in the incapable hands of the polygraph — a device whose effectiveness is without warrant.

The National Academy of Sciences has noted that the polygraph is even less effective with regard to sexual offenders. The verdict as to whether or not Mr. Young belongs in their ranks should be determined by the court and not by a 94 year-old parlor trick.

I am incensed any time I hear of these pseudoscientific contraptions creeping into our judicial system. The polygraph’s effectiveness has been thoroughly dismantled by the scientific community. This fact has been acknowledged by the United States government whose Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy concluded that the polygraph is neither “scientifically valid nor especially effective.”

The only current literature I have found supporting the use of the polygraph for purposes of “lie detection” comes from the community of polygraph examiners who, like psychic-detectives, appear to spend their time defending the false claims of magical thinking.

The polygraph should not be allowed to tarnish our judicial system at any level and needs to return to the parlor where its compatriots iridology, phrenology, psychometrics and numerous other dubious devices of pseudoscience collect dust.

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