Stormy Daniels Took a Polygraph. What Do We Do With the Results?

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A porn star has an affair with a man who would later become the president. She gets paid to keep quiet, but still takes a polygraph test in an effort to prove the affair was real, knowing that someday her story would come out.

No, it’s not the plot of some political novel, or even that of some X-rated film. It’s our current political climate, thanks to a flurry of claims form adult film star Stephanie Clifford, AKA Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with President Donald Trump.

In 2011, five years after their alleged affair, Daniels took a polygraph test that indicated that the “probability of deception was measured to be less than 1 percent,” according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

Let’s not get into whether this revelation has any bearing on our democracy. Instead, let’s ask another question: does a polygraph test prove anything at all?

In short: not really.

A black-and-white photo of a polygraph test being administered by an older man to a young woman in a checkered dress in an office, circa 1945.
A polygraph test being administered for a security screening at the Clinton Engineer Works, 1945. (Image credit: Ed Westcott/Wikimedia Commons)

A polygraph test measures a person’s heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and skin conductivity (whether they’re sweating). The test administrator watches to see if any of these factors change compared to a control when a person answers a question. If the metrics are way off, the logic goes, the test-taker is lying.

The problem with all this, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), is that the polygraph hinges on several (dubious) assumptions: that there is any sort of physiological response when a person lies, and secondly, that all people share that same response. In reality, a guilty person may be able to keep themselves calm, while an innocent person might be more anxious. A person can also use countermeasures, such as sedatives or psychological manipulation, to keep their response neutral.

In a scientific sense, we also can’t say whether the results of a polygraph are because of the placebo effect. A person who believes a polygraph works, and that they will be caught, may naturally feel more anxious when lying, or feel pressured to tell the truth. If this is the case, we risk that a polygraph will only work for people who believe in them  as the APA points out, this would actually make this test a “fear detector” rather than a lie detector, leading to false positives from terrified witnesses.

There’s so much mushiness about what a polygraph shows, so it’s not surprising lie detector results aren’t usually admissible in court — in fact, several states prohibit them. Even if a judge allows polygraph results as evidence, a prosecutor can still force its exclusion. Yet as recent headlines show, polygraphs are still used elsewhere to intimidate witnesses, monitor criminal suspects, even screen job candidates — and, in this most recent case, to back up a juicy scoop on a celebrity.

So if we’re going to keep using lie detectors, can we at least come up with a more accurate replacement? Some scientists have tried to use brain waves to detect deception, focusing on the parts of the brain that help people make conscious decisions about their responses. While some research has shown brain scans to be a bit more accurate than polygraphs, they’re still not accurate enough to be admitted in court, as a 2012 murder trial showed. There’s some promise that artificial intelligence could spot lying better than humans can, but there are also risks that either of these high-tech options could be fooled by some of the same countermeasures used against polygraphs.

No matter whether Daniels is telling the truth, media reports don’t exactly explain much of the test’s nuance. Daniels’ polygraph doesn’t actually mean anything, scientifically, but we crave hard evidence for these sorts of allegations that we are willing to believe it.

That proof doesn’t make them anything more than what they really are: a side show, and a distraction from the real issues.

The post Stormy Daniels Took a Polygraph. What Do We Do With the Results? appeared first on Futurism.


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Man Claims to Be Time Traveler from 2030, Passes Polygraph Test

A man who claims to be a time traveler from the year 2030 has apparently passed a lie detector test when giving a handful of predictions about the future.

The man, known only as “Noah,” insists that he must remain anonymous and that his face must be blurred. Noah also claims that he is 50-years-old, but has taken an “age rejuvenating drug” to make himself appear 25.

Noah has previously given some predictions about the future in an interview with YouTube channel Paranormal Elite. But this time around, another YouTube channel, Apex TV, has subjected Noah to a lie detector test while he gave many of the same predictions.

Among them are forecasts about Trump being re-elected president, humans reaching Mars in 2028, and the introduction of robots that can independently operate a home. Noah added that artificial intelligence will be “huge,” phones will only get bigger, and that a Google Glass-like device will “take over” within the next decade.

Interestingly, Noah also said that time travel has already been invented but is being kept secret — and will only be made public in the year 2028. Also, someone named Ilana Remikee is apparently going to be president in 2030.

Noah claims to have hard evidence proving all of these predictions, but can’t give us it because of “paradoxes.”

Is It Fake?

The general scientific consensus is that time travel into the past isn’t possible. But suspending disbelief, there are other issues with these predictions.

Polygraph (or “lie detector”) tests are notoriously easy to beat, and their value as instruments capable of catching untruths is becoming increasingly weaker. According to the American Psychological Association, “most psychologists agree that there is little evidence that polygraphs can accurately detect lies.”

Similarly, Noah’s predictions are actually pretty boring. Apple is working on a Google Glass-like device, consumer demand is shifting toward bigger phones, smart home products are becoming increasingly mainstream, and Elon Musk seems pretty committed to sending people to Mars within the next few decades. One doesn’t need to be a time traveler to make similar predictions.

It’s also a bit suspicious that “Ilana Remikee” doesn’t show up in any Google queries or vital record searches. To be president in 2030, one would have to have been born in the U.S. (natural-born-citizen clause) in 1993 in order to be 35 (the minimum age) in 2028 (the closest election year to 2030). That person would be 24- or 25-years-old currently.

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Don’t Even TRY Lying to This Polygraph Test — Your Micro Emotions Will Give You Away

This lie detector test reads your ‘micro emotions.’

The post Don’t Even TRY Lying to This Polygraph Test — Your Micro Emotions Will Give You Away appeared first on Futurism.