Telling the Truth

Is there a sure-fire way to tell if someone is telling the truth?  Not according to the Supreme Court ruling of 1998, the National Academy of Science in 2003, and backed up by the American Psychiatric Association, who have all stated that there is no scientific proof that a machine or interviewing process can establish or measure truthfulness.  A polygraph, or lie detector, test merely measures “arousal” indicators according to blood pressure, heart rate, increased perspiration, and some more physical indicators.  “Although the relevant questions in the probable lie test are used to obtain a reaction from liars, it can also gain a reaction from the innocent subject who is afraid of false detection. The physiological reactions that “distinguish” liars, may also occur in individuals who fear a false detection, or feel passionately that they did not commit the crime.  Therefore, although a physiological reaction may be occurring, the reasoning behind the response may be different. Further examination of the probable lie test has indicated that it is biased against innocent subjects,” according to Iacono, W. G. (2008). “Effective policing: Understanding how polygraph tests work and are used”. Criminal Justice and Behavior.

Therefore, polygraph test evidence is no longer acceptable in prosecution cases or defense arguments, with the exception of its use in certain governmental employee hiring practices.  However, it is continued to be used in law enforcement interrogations, where its use is a little above chance but below perfection.  The percentage is given at 70% accuracy from critics to 99% accuracy to its proponents, and can change noticeably in individuals who have practice in beating the system.

All these facts came home to me this past week when my grandson was being investigated with a sexual abuse report from his ex-wife.  Of course, she took the child to a counselor who could make the report without having false reporting charges brought against her.  (She has a history of false reports and lying.)  My grandson became very upset and offered to take a lie detector test.  The detective took him up on it.  Now, two things need to be said: 1) he has been supervised almost the entire times he has been with the child, and 2) he has been diagnosed with a form of Autism, which predisposes him to the false-positive group of individuals mentioned earlier.  As a former teacher described him, “He’s always been a nervous cat.”  I’d never heard it put quite like that, but it fits.

So, I took a crash course in researching polygraph testing, and insisted on my grandson speaking to an attorney before taking the test.  His answer, “I’ll just take the darn thing.  They can’t put me in jail if I didn’t do anything wrong.  That will prove I’m not lying.”  I questioned if I should tell him anything different lest that would increase his anxiety.  Anyway, he is speaking to an attorney tomorrow before he does anything else.

Back to the truthfulness issue.  My research brought to light the many ways people have tried to detect deception.  There is a myth about people who have shifty eyes and averted faces.  Many times this is actually a body reaction when someone thinks intently.  Body language can give some indications of emotions, but there is no scientific proof that emotions can be physiologically measured.  That brings me to a method that I find interesting.  Intuition.  Many of the articles mentioned how a sense of intuition has been about as successful as anything.  I’ve heard how many police officers depend upon their “gut feeling” about a case.

ll Corinthians 10:5 says, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  Could this mean that the truth in every situation is in the mind of Christ?  He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us in everything we do.  Maybe that is where that intuition comes from.  If so, I sure hope the detective and CPS worker are on good terms with their God and their gut.