I rented a conference room at a hotel just down the street from the state capital building where all the senators and representatives called news conferences. All the local news media, newspapers, radio and television, showed up at the news conference, as did many polygraph examiners from Oklahoma City and surrounding areas. A friend of mine, who was a police chief at a local department, acted as moderator; and I embarked on my crusade against the polygraph. I used a volunteer to demonstrate what the polygraph records and showed how simple it was to beat. I told them the polygraph, when used a "lie detector", is nothing but a sick joke. I told the representatives of the media that I was going to blow the whistle on the abuses perpetuated by this evil, Orwellian industry.
During that news conference, I pointed out that there were many polygraph operators in the audience, and I invited any or all of them to come join me on stage and debate me on the subject of the validity of the polygraph as a lie detector. When the cameras turned and panned the audience, every one of the polygraph examiners covered their faces. Some buried their heads in their hands, some ducked down behind the people in front of them, some even got up and hurriedly left the room, taking care to keep their backs to the camera. Not one polygraph operator accepted my offer of a debate. I looked right into the cameras and said, “That just about says it all doesn’t it folks? Polygraph operators are like cockroaches – shine a light on them and they run for cover. They know they are frauds. They know the polygraph is not valid as a lie detector, and if they could defend their position that the polygraph as a “lie detector”, why didn’t they take the opportunity to do so?”
I continued, "I'll tell you exactly why these polygraph operators will not debate me about the validity of the polygraph. It is simply because they know what I have said is true; the basic premise upon which the polygraph is based is faulty. The reactions that they say indicate deception are often just caused by nervousness; and nervousness does not always equate to deception. As a matter of fact I have found that only about 50% of the time do these reactions in fact indicate that a person has lied. The rest of the time they are just caused because the person is fearful or nervous. But, in order for the polygraph to be a lie detector, these reactions that they say indicate deception must ALWAYS indicate deception; not half the time, not even 90% of the time, ALWAYS. And, in truth and in fact, they don’t; most of the time they are caused by any number of innocent stimuli.”
I then began telling some horror stories of polygraph abuse. I told them about polygraph operators who would brag about testing fifty people to fill three job openings. What that meant was that most of these innocent truthful people were falsely labeled as liars, just so the polygraph operators could charge the employer for more tests. Aside from my job with the Police Department, I also worked part time for a private polygraph company administering pre-employment polygraph examinations for local employers, so I had firsthand knowledge of the abuses in the polygraph industry. The company I worked for encouraged us to fail as many people as possible so as to be able to charge the employer more money for administering more polygraph examinations. This was a common practice among private polygraph examiners. I made a point of emphasizing that I was not pointing a finger of blame at all the other polygraph examiners, that I was not wrapping my robes of righteousness about me and saying all these terrible things about all those other bad guys. I was confessing that I, Doug Williams, did all those things too, and that I was now doing my best to make restitution for all I had done by bringing these atrocities to light.
The uproar caused by this news conference was immediate and very intense. This was the first time any licensed polygraph operator had dared to confront this industry. The risk I was taking by doing this in 1979 was greater than you would imagine. Three fourths of the people in private industry had to take polygraph test to get a job; and often they had to take the test periodically to keep their job. The polygraph was greatly feared by the people who had to submit to it, and greatly respected and even loved by those required others to take it. And those who administered the tests were raking in millions of dollars every year.
As a result of that news conference, I was invited to appear as a guest on very popular talk show broadcast by KTOK, the largest AM station in Oklahoma. I laid out my reasons for leaving the police department, and detailed my objections to the use of the polygraph instrument, as a "lie detector". I also explained what I planned to do in my crusade against the polygraph industry, and how I was going to try to get a federal law outlawing lie detector tests; particularly as a condition of employment in the private sector. And with that, my crusade against the so call “lie detector” was launched.
Everyone, including my family, thought I was crazy, and they were right, I most certainly was. It was crazy to leave a career that I had spent years preparing for. It was crazy to think I could stop an industry that was licensed by the state. It was crazy to think that all I had to do was tell the truth and everyone would believe me. The myth of the lie detector was well established in the American psyche, and it had decades of propaganda behind it. All that, coupled with the fact that the polygraph was considered infallible by a majority of the population as well as the media, made the polygraph the final word on whether a person was truthful or deceptive. What few detractors it had were considered to be unpatriotic troublemakers, or just disgruntled people who were angry because their lies had been exposed by the polygraph. It was unheard of for anyone in a position of authority to question the polygraph, especially a police polygraph examiner.
But I had a plan, and it seemed perfectly logical to me at the time. I would launch a three-pronged attack against the polygraph industry. The three prongs of this attack would be education, legislation, and litigation. I hoped people would believe me, since I had the credentials, and could speak with authority on the subject – after all, I was a licensed polygraph expert. As a matter of fact, I was and still am, the only licensed polygraph examiner to ever tell the truth about the so-called “lie detector”.
After I quit the police department, I moved to Houston Texas. I had been working on a plan to fight the use of the polygraph with the ultimate goal of destroying the polygraph industry by implementing the three-pronged attack of education, litigation, and legislation. With regard to education, I wrote a manual entitled, “HOW TO STING THE POLYGRAPH", this manual described in detail exactly how to beat the polygraph examination. In this little manual I explained the difference between relevant and control question and how to control every tracing on the chart.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish