By Trevor Taylor, Marketing –
At a criminal trial on Feb. 2, 1935, Leonarde Keeler, a Northwestern University professor, wasn’t convinced the oath the courts used to swear in witnesses was enough to obtain truth during trials. In fact, he was so unconvinced that he had spent the next decade developing a tool that could identify whether someone was actually telling the truth — the polygraph. With a device that looked more like it belonged in a doctor’s office than a courtroom, Keeler successfully persuaded the jury that the defendants were lying.
It was the first time ever in the history of America’s judicial system that a machine was used in detecting deception during a trial. This same machine (with a few minor improvements) would be used throughout the next several decades.
Go to a courtroom today, however, and the iconic blood-pressure cuff and chest straps are nowhere to be seen. This is because the polygraph test has been banned from the majority of U.S. courts ever since a 1998 case, when it was ruled that, “the jury is the lie detector.”
A recent Bloomberg article explains that lie detectors have been the subject of much debate and have been highly criticized throughout the past century. But why? According to the article, in the hands of a skilled examiner, a polygraph test can help determine if someone is telling the truth.
Therein lies the root problem — What is a “skilled examiner”? How do you test for corruption with a device that depends on human beings, who are essentially subjective and corruptible by nature?
It’s primarily for this critique that the polygraph test has been widely criticized since its inception. In spite of this criticism, the polygraph lives on and continues to serve employers for screenings and background checks across the globe.
Researchers have since invented numerous alternatives to the polygraph. The most prominent of the alternative solutions are the P300 (an electroencephalograph test) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). However, these newer techniques also have their own set of problems. For one, they tend to be less portable and more expensive than the traditional polygraph test. There aren’t many firms that have a $1.5 million dollar fMRI machine available to move around for employment screenings. In addition, the P300 and fMRI procedures tend to be much more intrusive. To take the P300 test, the examinee is required to be attached to over a hundred electrode sensors on their skull. When fitted properly, the examinee looks like something straight out of an alien movie.
Will there ever be a reasonable solution to the problems associated with the polygraph?
A new company based in Salt Lake City, Utah thinks it might have the next big thing in the world of deception detection. Converus (“con” for with and “verus” for truth) has developed a product called EyeDetect®. It uses a high-powered camera to detect discrete movements in the eye.
The premise of EyeDetect technology is that the human body does not naturally tell a lie. When a person knowingly suppresses the truth, deceptive behavior is seen in eye movement patterns and changes in the cornea. These changes, when monitored by complex computer software, can be used to detect deceptive behavior with an astonishing 85 percent accuracy, without depending on an “expert” to decipher the results of the test. Useful eye lie detection or lie detector software.
In addition, the test normally takes about 30 minutes, as opposed to the hours of testing time required by a polygraph. The computerization of the “proctor” aspect of the lie detection process successfully eliminates the elements of corruptibility associated with the polygraph.
While there is still much work to do, Converus has already begun using its product in various companies to assist employers in background checks and employee screenings across the globe. The day may soon come where recruiters and government officials finally put down the blood-pressure cuffs once and for all.