File this post under everything is illegal. A man has been indicted for running a business that claims to teach people how to pass polygraph tests. Initially I thought he was being charged with fraud for false advertising but he’s actually being charged for attempting to defraud the government:
A former Oklahoma City police officer was indicted Thursday on accusations of teaching people to cheat on lie detector tests, the government announced Friday.
The 69-year-old Norman, Oklahoma, man is the owner of Polygraph.com and charged customers thousands of dollars for instructions on how to beat lie detector tests administered for federal employment suitability assessments, federal security background investigations, and internal federal agency investigations, court documents show.
According to the five-count indictment [PDF] lodged against Douglas Williams:
The purpose of the scheme was to defraud the United States and to obtain and maintain positions of Federal employment for Williams’ customers for which they did not qualify, and the salary attendant to such positions, through materially false and fraudulent statements and representations. A further purpose of the scheme was for Williams to enrich himself by assisting his customers—including, among others, Federal job applicants, applicants for Federal security clearances, and individuals under investigation by Federal law enforcement agencies—in deceiving the Federal government in order to obtain or maintain positions of Federal employment for which Williams’ customers did not qualify.
If I understand the state’s “logic” it’s claiming that since it uses polygraphs on employees anybody teaching individuals how to pass a polygraph is defrauding the state. Such a case may have some kind of merit if polygraphs actually worked. But they’re bullshit. People, as a group, have no consistent response to lying. The only reason polygraphs are at all effective is because people subjected to polygraph tests believe they’re effective. A skilled operator can convince a person being tested that the machine is telling him something and that’s often enough to get the person to divulge whatever it is they were lying about.
If government agencies are still using polygraphs to test employees then it is entirely at fault for using voodoo to verify the integrity of employees. Anybody teaching people how to pass a polygraph, as opposed to telling people that polygraphs are bullshit, are only guilty of lying by claiming that polygraphs are somehow effective.
Also, as an aside, you cannot defraud a thief and the state is the greatest thief of them all.