Open Access
August 2005 In Search of the Magic Lasso: The Truth About the Polygraph
Stephen E. Fienberg, Paul C. Stern
Statist. Sci. 20(3): 249-260 (August 2005). DOI: 10.1214/088342305000000223


In the wake of controversy over allegations of espionage by Wen Ho Lee, a nuclear scientist at the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, the department ordered that polygraph tests be given to scientists working in similar positions. Soon thereafter, at the request of Congress, the department asked the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a thorough study of polygraph testing’s ability to distinguish accurately between lying and truth-telling across a variety of settings and examinees, even in the face of countermeasures that may be employed to defeat the test. This paper tells some of the story of the work of the Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph, its report and the reception of that report by the U.S. government and Congress.


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Stephen E. Fienberg. Paul C. Stern. "In Search of the Magic Lasso: The Truth About the Polygraph." Statist. Sci. 20 (3) 249 - 260, August 2005.


Published: August 2005
First available in Project Euclid: 24 August 2005

zbMATH: 1100.62622
MathSciNet: MR2196245
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/088342305000000223

Keywords: Bayes theorem , lie detector , Meta-analysis , ROC curves , Sensitivity , specificity , tabular reporting

Rights: Copyright © 2005 Institute of Mathematical Statistics

Vol.20 • No. 3 • August 2005
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