STATEMENT OF THE AMERICAN POLYGRAPH ASSOCIATION PERTAINING TO THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES (NAS) REPORT ON THE USE OF THE POLYGRAPH:
The American Polygraph Association (APA) recognizes the efforts of such a prestigious body as the National Academy of Sciences in the work performed in exploring questions associated with the detection of deception.
We wish to note that the APA was not invited to participate in any of the deliberations, nor consulted to provide responses to many questions raised in this project. The APA proudly counts among its membership, well qualified and highly regarded academicians who routinely conduct and publish research in peer reviewed publications and who would have eagerly contributed to this project. Perhaps in a follow-up assessment, the NAS or a similar body will look to the largest international organization in the detection of deception field for answers to some of the important questions in such an inquiry.
It is important that the public be aware that in their published report, the National Academy of Sciences did not conduct any new or original laboratory or field research on polygraph testing. Their effort was confined to a review of the research on polygraph testing and in particular to that which pertains to personnel screening. In doing so, the academy relied on only 57 of the more than 1,000 research studies available.
The NAS panel and the APA recognize that the field of lie detection is a difficult one to quantify or measure in terms of real world effectiveness. As the NAS so clearly reports, real world conditions are difficult if not impossible to replicate in a mock crime or laboratory environment for the purpose of assessing effectiveness.
As a result, a paradigm for research into the validity and efficacy of lie detection has always been, at best, a difficult challenge. We further agree that a lack of resources over the past decades has hampered more meaningful research, particularly in the security and applicant screening arena.
It must be addressed; however, that the NAS report does not adequately recognize the many successes of polygraph in both the criminal specific arena and in National Security. Polygraph testing admittedly not perfect, has been and continues to be an extremely valuable tool. We firmly believe that continued scientific research will support our position; therefore, we welcome the NAS recommendation for additional research and greater innovation in the field.
We agree with the panel?s conclusion that although there may be alternative techniques to polygraph testing, none of these alternatives outperform, nor do any of them yet show promise of supplanting the polygraph in the near term.
We further agree with the NAS finding that expanding research efforts be directed at detecting and deterring major security threats, including efforts for improving techniques for security screening. We believe polygraph testing now provides satisfactory detection and deterrence, enhanced research efforts; however, will certainly expand our capacity to improve efforts in those areas. The APA will continue to conduct and support research within its limited resources; however, we must look to other sources, perhaps including the Federal Government to allocate the resources needed to fully accomplish the specific research challenges offered by the NAS. The APA stands ready and willing to work with such sources to bring the recommendations of the NAS to fruition.