Lie Detector Tests

Let’s dive into the dangerous, divine, and occasionally kinky history of trying to figure out who’s telling the truth.

Featured image: A demonstration of use of the polygraph at the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1970. (Image source)

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Leonard Keeler demonstrates his polygraph machine. (Image source)

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The polygraph is used in a security screening at Clinton Engineer Works in 1945. Even though the results of polygraph tests aren’t admissible in many court systems, they’re often used in security screenings for law enforcement jobs and careers at private companies. (Image source)

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A suspect undergoes the ordeal by cold water (being thrown in the water to sink or float) in a 12th-century manuscript. (Image source)

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An illustration of the ordeal of boiling water from a 1300s German manuscript. (Image source)

An illustration from the 13th century of Saint Cunigunde of Luxembourg walking over heated plowshares without being burned to prove that she was innocent of adultery. (Image source)

Although no one has successfully proved that a drug that forces someone to tell the truth exists, CIA experiments into truth serums continued much later than you might expect.


Trial by ordeal


Truth serums

Physiological monitoring

The polygraph test

The Lie Detector Was Never Very Good at Telling the Truth
Lie Detectors Don’t Work as Advertised and They Never Did
The Polygraph Has Been Lying for 80 Years
Courtroom Status of the Polygraph
Are polygraphs admissible in U.S. courts? A Concise Overview 
The Polygraph Has Been Lying for 80 Years
Leonarde Keeler and his Instruments
Truth in the Machine

1 thought on “Lie Detector Tests”

  1. Thank you so much for helping to debunk this dangerous BS!! It makes me angry when true crime people act like polygraphs are legitimate evidence of anything!

    Can you please do one on body language analysis/experts? And how dangerous it is for neurodivergent people like autistic people, mentally disordered etc.. (phone changed illness to I’ll please don’t be a baby about it!) and how it just teaches people to be more judgmental etc.

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