The curious story of how the lie detector came to be

Polygraph machine

The science behind the lie detector test has been disputed since its creation 90 years ago, so is there any reliable way to tell if someone is lying, asks Dr Geoff Bunn, author of The Truth Machine: A Social History of the Lie Detector.

“If I was guilty and wanted to beat that machine, it wouldn’t be hard,” says Sharon Stone’s psychopathic character in Basic Instinct.

And the history of the polygraph – better known as the lie detector test – is littered with people who have been able to trick it.

The polygraph machine was invented in 1921 in Berkeley, California.

“Berkeley was a town with a very famous police chief, August Vollmer, and he was in charge of police reform and a leader of police professionalisation in the United States,” says Ken Alder, professor of history at Northwestern University in Chicago.

“He actually wanted to use the science to make the cops more law-abiding themselves, to substitute this new scientific interrogation for what was formerly known as the third degree, which was a way of getting information from people by beating them up.”

Berkeley police officer John Larson created the first machine, basing it on the systolic blood pressure test pioneered by psychologist William Moulton Marston, who would later become a comic book writer and create Wonder Woman.

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Ralph Thomas is author of over 32 books on various aspects of conducting investigations, founder and director of The National Association Of Investigative Specialists,CEO of Thomas Investigative Publications, Inc, The Spy Exchange And Security Center and SpyTek Wholesale Imports. Thomas is a member of the Executive Security Council of Griffith Colson Intelligence Service, a private intelligence agency. Thomas's latest project is NAIStv on the Griffith Media TV Network. He has also developed A Native American Store in Georgetown Texas called Tribal Impressions. You can review his person home page off of: http://www.pimall.com/thomas

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