Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Crime Education Government United States

Indiana Man Gets 8 Months For Teaching How To Beat Polygraph Tests 356

Posted by timothy
from the preserving-layers-of-lies dept.
A week ago, we posted news that federal prosecutors were seeking jail time for Chad Dixon, an Indiana man who made money teaching others how to pass polygraph examinations. Now, reader Frosty Piss writes that Dixon "was sentenced Friday to eight months in prison. Prosecutors described Chad Dixon as a 'master of deceit.' Prosecutors, who had asked for almost two years in prison, said Dixon crossed the line between free speech protected under the First Amendment and criminal conduct when he told some clients to conceal what he taught them while undergoing government polygraphs. Although Dixon appears to be the first charged publicly, others offering similar instruction say they fear they might be next. 'I've been worried about that, and the more this comes about, the more worried I am,' said Doug Williams, a former police polygraphist in Oklahoma who claims to be able to teach people to beat what he now considers a 'scam' test."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Indiana Man Gets 8 Months For Teaching How To Beat Polygraph Tests

Comments Filter:
  • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:25PM (#44785353)

    ... like the government scorned when one shows that their "system" is a house of cards.

    Yeah, lets shoot the messenger and ignore the message. That will "solve" the problem. Oh wait....

  • AMERIKAN GULAG! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:28PM (#44785377) Homepage Journal

    Welcome to Thoughtcrime!

  • Some FA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rick Zeman (15628) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:28PM (#44785383)

    What was he convicted ON? What charge? Obstruction of justice? Article doesn't sat. Lying itself can't be a crime (else every politician and lawyer would be in jail).

  • By prosecution... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jjeffries (17675) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:37PM (#44785439)

    ...aren't the Feds implicitly acknowledging that the polygraph is not an accurate instrument?

  • Re:Some FA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:37PM (#44785447)
    And that's why the gov't loves threatening people into pleading guilty.
  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@world3AAA.net minus threevowels> on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:38PM (#44785457) Homepage

    Except that the prosecution was based on his helping people to not just beat the polygraph, but to lie to government agencies in order to get jobs. In other words simple fraud.

  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:39PM (#44785465) Journal

    I don't know if it's invisible text, or just classified... There must be two 1st amendments, one for the school children and the other for the courts that basically says, "Ignore all that bullshit and lock 'em up."

  • Re:Some FA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by buybuydandavis (644487) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:42PM (#44785503)

    "Plead guilty or we'll charge you with a million counts."

    Pleading guilty should never be taken as an admission of guilt, only an admission that you're not powerful enough to stop the government from fucking you.

  • by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@nospAm.gmail.com> on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:52PM (#44785571) Homepage Journal

    talk about 'thoughtcrime'...

    his helping people to not just beat the polygraph, but to lie to government agencies

    actually it was a **sting operation** and they got him on a very narrow interpretation of the law...

    see, you can't teach how to 'pass' or 'fail' a test that is completely inaccurate!!!

    according to TFA he teaches facts about the polygraph, and I'd imagine has one he hooks people up to one of his own...no results guaranteed

    'passing' the polygraph isn't about 'guilt' or 'innocence' again I must state

    The got him on audio tape doing his typical program...no 'extra help'....they way they got him was they **volunteered that they had something to hide** from the gov't...he just continued with his lesson.

    He probably just disregarded this info they disclosed b/c...as I've said...the *actual* truth about a question has noting to do with whether you pass or fail!

    This conviction is bullshit, IMHO...maybe they technically 'got him' but it's not justice in any sense...and he definitely did NOT help anyone lie to the government!

  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @04:55PM (#44785591)
    If simple fraud is against the law, then why aren't we prosecuting the fraudsters administering the tests? They are using a pseudoscientific test that will only weed out the really stupid "bad guys" and will keep out a number of qualified individuals. AFAIK, he only taught them how to fool a lie detector, and to lie about knowing how to fool a lie detector, because if you admit that, you are instantly out of the running.
  • Re:AMERIKAN GULAG! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kinarduk (734762) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:02PM (#44785641)
    doubleplusgood
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:03PM (#44785647)

    ... like the government scorned when one shows that their "system" is a house of cards.

    It isn't a house of cards, it's just not a highly reliable method. Look at it this way... Let's take a series of pass/fail tests, each with a different detection probability. And let's say that the odds of them catching you in round 1 are 65%, then 84%, then 70%. Is the cumulative effect of this higher than 84%? Yes. Each layer adds a little bit, but each layer also has diminishing returns. This is how government looks at security with regards to, say airport scanners, or terrorist watch lists, or polygraph testing. They know that the individual methods by themselves are shit. They're just hoping that with enough layers, enough randomized checks, and everything else, that the final result will be a high detection rate.

    This isn't without its drawbacks. As someone who studies statistics can tell you, a test needs to be about 99.9% accurate before the false positive rate is low enough that your system can have any confidence in its catches. The government doesn't care about confidence though -- it's about fear and perception. If they charge a thousand people with terrorism to catch the one guy who is a terrorist, that's a win in their book. They only care about the detection rate; Not the false positive.

    That doesn't make it a 'house of cards' though. If all you care about is detection rate, the government's doing a passably sortof okay job... but if you care about the false positive rate, your opinion is going to be, er, considerably lower. Actually, several miles into the ground low. Understanding how the government thinks is the first step towards fixing the problem; Which I think anyone who's looked at the situation will say... it's reducing false positives.

    As far as the logic of imprisoning someone who's explaining that one of the tactics in their overall strategy can be easily beaten... I've generally been of the opinion that if you didn't have access to classified materials, and discovered something that threatens national security, merely discussing it should be first amendment protected -- afterall, if you did it, so can the nebulous and undefined enemies of your country. And isn't part of a citizen's job to participate in creating a more effective government? How else can this be accomplished than by a willingness and ability to discuss shortcomings?

    The polygraph may be used for national security reasons, but so are hammers, staplers, and cars... that doesn't mean we can arrest and imprison people who use or criticize them either. It's just a tool... and if the tool is as ineffective as this guy suggests, it should stop being used. And in fact, the false positive rate of polygraphs so far outstrips the detection rate, that you'd be stupid not to learn how to beat one if you're serious about a government position. I mean, why would you risk your career on what essentially amounts to a dousing rod or a psychic reading cards?

  • by Thantik (1207112) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:06PM (#44785677)

    The same thing goes for smoke shops. Go in there and mention pot/weed/etc in any shape, fashion or form, and they'll kick you out right on the spot because the feds have pulled this trick on them quite often. His mistake was in not immediately stopping and ejecting the guy from his lessons.

  • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:08PM (#44785685)
    The Great and Powerful Oz has recently ordered the arrest of known Wicked Witch acquaintance Dorothy of Kansas. Munchkin Intelligence, Section 5, indicated that Dorothy has been fraternizing with populist rebels and suspected communist sympathizers Scarecrow, Tin-Man, and Cowardly Lion. The Wizards Spokewoman, Glinda, denies as fallacious the claims that Dorothy discovered something compromising about the identity of the All-Powerful Oz that would undermine his depthless authority.
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:32PM (#44785815)

    If simple fraud is against the law, then why aren't we prosecuting the fraudsters administering the tests?

    Well, because it isn't fraud. Fraud is intentional deception, not simply being ineffective or incompetent. If those things were crimes, everyone would be in jail. Now, in this case, the accuracy rates vary from 80-98% by most accounts, with much of the variance down to the competence of the tester. This is still too low for it to be used in say, criminal trials. But many government officials as I said earlier care more about detection than false positive... they're saying as long as you get the needle in the haystack, it's a success... even though you're doing it by burning the haystack. So no, this is not fraudulent... it's merely not scientifically rigorous.

    AFAIK, he only taught them how to fool a lie detector, and to lie about knowing how to fool a lie detector, because if you admit that, you are instantly out of the running.

    Well, as I mentioned earlier -- the consequences of failing a polygraph can be a career-ending event, and the false positive rate is quite high, even against untrained individuals. With the cost of such an event being so high, and the odds of it happening being non-negligible, such training has obvious economic benefits. There is no need for someone to be a "bad guy" to be able to justify it. In this case, lying is in your best interests, regardless of if you're a terrorist or not -- if you are a terrorist, it's in your best interest to lie for obvious reasons. If you aren't, it's in your best interest because you don't want all that training, knowledge, and years of experience fighting the terrorists to get flushed because of a statistical anomaly.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:42PM (#44785875)

    The same thing goes for smoke shops. Go in there and mention pot/weed/etc in any shape, fashion or form, and they'll kick you out right on the spot because the feds have pulled this trick on them quite often. His mistake was in not immediately stopping and ejecting the guy from his lessons.

    Well, yeah, except that's not enough these days. Consider the guy that installed car 'hides' (basically hidden compartments) in California. He started with car audio installs, but found installing hides was more lucrative and required the same skills and tools. There weren't any laws specifically making this illegal, but people often used them for illegal activities, particularly smuggling drugs. He would turn people away if he had evidence they were using them for this purpose, but the DEA still caught wind of a high-end car installer, then approached him and put him under surveillance. Again, not because they had proof he was doing anything illegal, but because he was enabling others to do illegal things... they continually asked him to allow them to install surveillance cameras, etc., which he refused (As is his fourth amendment right). After a bit of back and fourth, the DEA decided he was obstructing and colluding with these drug dealers, and put him in jail for twenty years.

    There was never any indication he ever serviced a vehicle where anyone had admitted it was used for drugs or illegal activities. The DEA just wanted him gone because he was enabling others to do so. So knowledge that what you're teaching or providing service for isn't proof against the government throwing you in jail.

    Let's be clear: If the government wants you, they're gonna get you. The laws aren't there to uphold social norms, they're there to club you over the head and drag you off in a way that seems justifiable to the unwashed masses, should the authorities so choose to do so. You can't simply say "Oh well, if you do this, this, and this, they can't get you!" ... Wrong.

  • by reve_etrange (2377702) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:48PM (#44785909)

    A polygraph is absolutely not a "lie detector" with high false negative and false positive rates. Polygraphy is a pseudo-science and as such has no consistent FNR / FPR when turned to "lie detection."

    The only use of the polygraph machine is to elicit a confession by trickery. And that is exactly why the government is so desperate to crush the guys who teach people how to "evade" the fake test: the belief that the "test" can possibly be fooled is enough to break the psychology of the elicited confessions.

    Fool proof anti-polygraph method: don't worry about it and lie anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:51PM (#44785923)

    In the UK the judiciary tends to resist people arguing that certain forms of evidence are flawed because it opens up the possibility that many other cases were decided incorrectly. Maybe the same thing is at work in the US.

    For real. See this paper at Cornell law about the FBI's reaction to proposals that their claims of DNA identification accuracy be empirically verified: http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/research/JLPP/upload/kaye.pdf [cornell.edu]

    I recall a similar response when a different researcher made unauthorized use of their access to the FBI fingerprint database to do a similar empirical check of print uniqueness claims, but can't find the article quickly.

  • by reve_etrange (2377702) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @06:12PM (#44786045)

    There's a huge difference between a pressure sensor applied to oil and a polygraph applied to lie detection.

    In the first case, calibrated measurements are made in a standard, objectively defined unit by taking advantage of a law of physics. 1 kPa is 1 kPa is 1 kPa.

    In the second, a bunch of graphs are written out based on physiological measurements, then "interpreted" by a supposed polygraph "expert." There is no objective standard or unit of "lying," and different experts will come up with different interpretations. Indeed, the US Supreme Court ruled that unlike DNA or fingerprint evidence, polygraph evidence is nothing more than the opinions of the examiners.

  • by The Wild Norseman (1404891) <tw,norseman&gmail,com> on Saturday September 07, 2013 @06:20PM (#44786073)

    That isn't an accurate assessment. Lying does often elicit a physiological reaction, which is what the polygraph is designed to detect. However, anxiety about the question also causes a physiological reaction, and differentiating between someone who's nervous because they're lying, and someone who's nervous for some other reason, is a non-trivial matter.

    It's like saying the low oil light on your car is "absolutely not an oil detector". Technically, you're right; It's a pressure sensor. But it's measuring pressure in a system that ordinarily should contain only oil, and if the pressure drops that's usually an indicator that there's not enough oil in the system, thus calling it a "low oil" light is accurate because that's what it is most often detecting.

    The reason a human being may show higher galvanic skin sensitivity or increased breathing rates do not map reliably to deception. It's pseudo-science, pure and simple, and is not reliable for what it's supposedly for. The problem with your analogy is that there are only a handful of issues that could cause the idiot light to glow and narrowing down the reason the "low oil" light is lit is straightforward.

    The polygraph is a lie; social engineering before the term caught on, really.

  • I disagree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Archfeld (6757) * <treboreel@live.com> on Saturday September 07, 2013 @07:05PM (#44786361) Journal

    "The laws aren't there to uphold social norms"...

    That is exactly the reason the laws exist. To establish and enforce a so-called social standard. The laws SHOULD be there for safety and security but they have been perverted into a means for enforcing a government determined social standard, much the same way the police have gone from protecting from physical harm to enforcing social and economic policies...

  • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @07:27PM (#44786503)

    There was never any indication he ever serviced a vehicle where anyone had admitted it was used for drugs or illegal activities.

    As I recall, he was called out to service an installation he had done for one of his repeat customers, since the compartment door had become jammed. The crime the DEA got him on was when he opened the door and saw wads of cash inside, then heard some comments indicating it was drug money. Prior to that he could have denied any knowledge, but he continued with the repair, effectively owning any work he had ever done for that client, and the DEA nailed him to the wall for it.

    Put differently, it's exactly the same case. He had knowledge that illegal activity was taking place and chose to continue providing service to his client.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @08:08PM (#44786725)

    King County doesn't have police, King County has a Sheriff's Department. I'm guessing that you're making this up, because I'd imagine that if I were ever arrested that I would at least remember the name of the department.

    What's more, polygraphs aren't admissible in court, regardless of what the results are. So, either you're lying or you had a really shitty attorney.

  • by genner (694963) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @08:17PM (#44786765)

    Drug dealers uses cell phones to communicate. Following your flawless logic we should incarcerate every executives of Sprint, AT&T, MetroPCS and all...

    Only if the drug dealer called an AT&T rep and asked if his plan had roaming charges while he was moving drugs across the border.

  • by dryeo (100693) on Sunday September 08, 2013 @12:31AM (#44787769)

    In much of America, if you're convicted under a bad law, your right to vote (amongst others) is permanently removed. Makes it that much harder to change bad laws. Most civilized countries removed the penalty of felon from the law books in the 19th century as feudal ideas such as punishing people (and their families) forever was considered feudal. America along with Nigeria still practice the feudal idea of stopping people from voting to elect people to change bad laws.

  • Re:I disagree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 08, 2013 @08:44AM (#44789131)

    ... there to uphold social norms ...

    People have drunk alcohol for thousands of years. That continued during the US prohibition. The law didn't uphold the social norm, it actively vilified it. A similar situation exists for cannabis use.

    Similarly, the law ended slavery and racial segregation. But US town councils actively kept black citizens away from white citizens in public spaces like buses and theatres. The law didn't punish racial vilification, it allowed the social norm to continue.

    Then there's 'stop and frisk' on the street and in airports, and civil forfeiture (the judicial branch as privateers). Which social norms do these laws uphold?

    Lastly, there's executive decisions to suspend the law: constitution-free zones, free-speech 'zones', unlimited meta-data spying, and 'too big to jail'. Do these rulings uphold social norms?

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? -- Woody Allen

Working...