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Passing the polygraph: Former cop indicted for teaching others how to beat lie detector test

Polygraph Test
Polygraph Test
Gabriel Rodriguez via Flickr

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Doug Williams has made a career out of teaching people how to beat the polygraph test, also called the lie-detector test. Recently, Williams was indicted on charges of witness tampering and mail fraud after undercover agents posed as clients and asked Williams to help them beat the polygraph test. Williams has repeatedly refuted the charges and posted the following statement on his website: “The U.S. government has indicted me on numerous charges! I will make no public comments other than this: This is simply an attack on my First Amendment right to free speech. This indictment was brought to punish and silence me because I have the audacity to protest the use of the polygraph.”

The polygraph test has been used for some time for things like interrogating suspects and screening government employees and police officers, but the exact science behind the polygraph is not so well-known. How exactly does it work and what bodily functions are measured? Is it really possible to actually teach someone to ‘beat’ the polygraph?


Raymond Nelson, president of the American Polygraph Association. He has conducted thousands of polygraph tests, designed algorithms that are used in polygraph testing across the country, and written extensively about the polygraph and the science of lie detection.