Hollywood has a love affair with the polygraph. Unfortunately, that love affair isn’t based on the reliability and performance of the century-old technology, erroneously referred to as a “lie detector.” Instead, it’s based upon the misguided notion that it actually works. Below are five examples of Hollywood’s use of the polygraph:
1. In “The Beard,” a 1995 episode of “Seinfeld,” Jerry is subjected to a polygraph exam during which the examiner tries to determine whether or not he has watched the television show, “Melrose Place.”
2. In the 2004 movie, “Meet the Parents,” Robert DeNiro plays the role of a father who subjects his son-in-law (Ben Stiller) to a polygraph exam to determine whether he’s a good “fit” for his daughter.
3. In “The Springfield Files,” episode 8 of the tenth season of “The Simpsons” animated television show, Homer Simpson is subjected to a polygraph exam that ends badly.
4. In the 2008 movie, “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” Keanu Reeves plays the role of an alien who, after being captured by humans, is subjected to a polygraph exam that also ends badly.
5. One of the most-accurate observations about the polygraph’s shortcomings appears after the 1:28 mark in a discussion of the 2012 documentary, “The Imposter.” Private investigator Charlie Parker says Frederic Bourdin, the Frenchman who is the subject of the film, “passed the polygraph, and we knew he was lying.” An all-too-common occurrence.
If you’ve ever been curious about the credibility assessment arena in which polygraph loyalists operate, order a copy of my latest nonfiction book, THE CLAPPER MEMO. The end product of an exhaustive four-year investigation, it reveals the existence of a “turf war” that’s been raging for more than 40 years between polygraph loyalists and all challengers to their “bread and butter” technology. You’ll be shocked by what I reveal.