Lies, and Their Detectors

I wish everyone, including those who support Judge Kavanaugh, would stop using the term “lie detector.” There is no such machine. The “polygraph,” as it is properly called, simply measures changes in your autonomic physiology while you answer questions. And while there is some statistical correlation and probabilities associated with certain pattern changes, its overall imprecision and known false positives are why polygraph exams have never been admissible in court. I wonder why anyone actually uses them at all for anything more important that a party trick. CIA traitor Aldrich Ames passed multiple polygraph exams, as did Roy Moore in Alabama when his history became a campaign issue. (Surprisingly, liberals now championing that Dr. Ford “passed a ‘lie detector’ test” didn’t seem to accept the result in Roy Moore’s case.)

But as to Dr. Ford’s polygraph, did she in fact “pass” it? Buried way down in the original Washington Post story is the only reference to the matter, worded this way:

On the advice of Katz, who said she believed Ford would be attacked as a liar if she came forward, Ford took a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent in early August. The results, which Katz provided to The Post, concluded that Ford was being truthful when she said a statement summarizing her allegations was accurate.

Let the end of that sentence sink in slowly, for the wording is strange indeed. This sounds like the polygraph measured a tautology. “Is this your statement?” “Yes.” “Congratulations: You passed!” Perhaps the Post reporter, Emma Brown, is merely sloppy, but note that the story doesn’t literally claim that Ford “passed” a polygraph.

A Power Line reader with a background in sex crimes prosecution flagged this detail:

As a sex crimes/homicide prosecutor for many years, to my ears, this wording was purposefully written to mislead. Look at what it does not say. The reporter does not say that the polygraph found the accuser credible when she said that Kavanaugh committed this act. And from my experience that would be because the accuser was either not asked that question, the result of her response was inconclusive, or that she was found deceptive to that question.

This is one reason why it would be a good thing for the Judiciary Committee staff to see the entire polygraph results. Why do I expect this won’t happen? Does the Post actually have the entire polygraph recording, or does the term “results” in the story just mean the conclusion passed along by Dr. Ford’s lawyers? The Post should clarify, and post online the entire document from the polygraph examiner if they have it.

Meanwhile, I still expect an additional shoe to drop on this story over the weekend, in a desperate attempt to derail Monday’s hearing. For now, I am going to go with the allegation that Richie Cunningham was the real culprit at the alleged party. And there is circumstantial video evidence—the opening scene of the very first episode of Happy Days back in the 1970s:

Actually there’s a deeper point behind this excursion into pop culture. It is always said that revolutions eventually eat their own. Popular culture and lifestyle liberalism unleashed sexual permissiveness back in the 1960s, and then wonders why we have an explosion of sexual predation and assault. (I’m not necessarily convinced there was a big change in the incidence of sexual predation, but I’ll give this one to the feminists if they want, because it doesn’t help their case.)

Heather Mac Donald was on this this problem a few years back in the Weekly Standard when she noted that what’s really going on is a return to Victorian-era standards:

It is impossible to overstate the growing weirdness of the college sex scene. Campus feminists are reimporting selective portions of a traditional sexual code that they have long scorned, in the name of ending what they preposterously call an epidemic of campus rape. They are once again making males the guardians of female safety and are portraying females as fainting, helpless victims of the untrammeled male libido. They are demanding that college administrators write highly technical rules for sex and aggressively enforce them, 50 years after the proponents of sexual liberation insisted that college adults stop policing student sexual behavior. While the campus feminists are not yet calling for an assistant dean to be present at their drunken couplings, they have created the next best thing: the opportunity to replay every grope and caress before a tribunal of voyeuristic administrators.

The ultimate result of the feminists’ crusade may be the same as if they were explicitly calling for a return to sexual modesty: a sharp decrease in casual, drunken sex. There is no downside to this development.


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