Findings of a recent study published in the United Kingdom show the polygraph can sometimes be fooled by individuals able to exercise one memorable countermeasure.
A news release on the University of Kent website — an excerpt of which appears below — offers details:
New research published by a team of international psychologists has shown that people can suppress incriminating memories and thereby avoid detection in brain activity guilt detection tests.
Such tests, which are commercially available in the USA and are used by law enforcement agencies in several countries, including Japan and India, are based on the logic that criminals will have specific memories of their crime stored in their brain. Once presented with reminders of their crime in a guilt detection test, it is assumed that their brain will automatically and uncontrollably recognise these details, with the test recording the brain’s ‘guilty’ response.
However, research by psychologists at the universities of Kent, Magdeburg and Cambridge, and the Medical Research Council, has shown that, contrary to this core assumption, some people can intentionally and voluntarily suppress unwanted memories – in other words, control their brain activity, thereby abolishing brain activity related to remembering. This was demonstrated through experiments in which people who conducted a mock crime were later tested on their crime recognition while having their electrical brain activity measured. Critically, when asked to suppress their crime memories, a significant proportion of people managed to reduce their brain’s recognition response and appear innocent.
This finding has major implications for brain activity guilt detection tests, among the most important being that those using memory detection tests should not assume that brain activity is outside voluntary control, and any conclusions drawn on the basis of these tests need to acknowledge that it might be possible for suspects to intentionally suppress their memories of a crime and evade detection.
In my recently-released book, THE CLAPPER MEMO, I reveal how a virtual cottage industry exists, pushing polygraph countermeasures that work. More importantly, however, I share the findings of a number of government-funded studies conducted in the United States that have been used as “ammunition” by polygraph loyalists seeking to maintain at all costs their century-old technology’s position as the federal government’s credibility assessment tool of choice.
In addition, I reveal how several high-level government officials — up to and including heads of cabinet-level agencies — have reacted when faced with the prospect of having to submit to polygraph exams as a condition of their employment. [Hint: They didn't like it.]
Finally, I share the findings of a study that was NOT funded by U.S. taxpayers that, lo and behold, resulted in findings diametrically opposite those funded and/or conducted by the Department of Justice and Department of Defense.
Not surprisingly, that study — which was published in a highly-respected scientific journal whose editors in Europe had no connections to federal government polygraph loyalists — examined the actual operational performance of one non-polygraph technology and found it delivered highly-accurate results without ever delivering “inconclusive” or “no opinion” results so common with polygraph exams.
Also not surprising is that the non-polygraph technology highlighted in the European journal has been banned by top DoD leaders no fewer than three times during the past decade. One of those who issued a ban was James R. Clapper Jr., the man now serving as Director of National Intelligence (i.e., our nation’s top intelligence official). Of course, I dug deeply into the nuts and bolts of those bans and share my findings in the book.
Why are the results of my investigation important now, more than ever? Because, in THE CLAPPER MEMO, I reveal how the aforementioned ban has contributed directly to hundreds of American and Coalition Forces casualties, the result of “Green-on-Blue” or “Insider” attacks conducted by so-called “allies” wearing the uniforms of Afghan military, police and security agencies.