Dianetics and Lie Detection

FBI and Lie Detection

The history and use of the E-Meter mirrors FBI and police use of the lie detector. In 1921, Dr. John Larson read an article by a student of Harvard psychiatrist Hugo Munsterberg, who had noted the potential of tracking lies through physiological changes as early as 1908 in his book On the Witness Stand. By Spring, he had developed the technique he read about into the first polygraph, which was adopted by the Berkeley Police Department. By the 1940s, the polygraph was being used by private companies to screen job applicants and test the employees who handled company money. In 1949, the CIA began mandatory polygraph testing of all new employees. By 1951, the military was invested in training polygraph operators, and opened the U.S. Army Polygraph School as a section of Provost Marshal General School in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Police inspector in Lincoln Using a Lie Detector in the 1950s<br /><br />

A police inspector in Lincoln using a polygraph during the 1950s.

The spread of the polygraph was not totally unchecked. In 1955 the first anti-polygraph statute was enacted in New Jersey, forbidding polygraph tests as a condition of employment. These statutes spread, and by the end of the 1970s sixteen states had laws which controlled the use of lie detectors. Nevertheless, lie detectors, polygraphs and E-meters are still in use today, marketed using buzzwords like "credibility assessment" and "biofeedback instrumentation".

The Employment FAQs section on the FBI's website asks and answers:

"14. Will I have to pass a polygraph?

Yes. Successful completion of a pre-employment polygraph is a necessary condition of employment for every FBI employee. The polygraph will deal with verifying information submitted on your application, drug and alcohol abuse, and national security matters."

 Demonstration of a Modern Lie Detector as Used by Law Enforcement

Computerized Polygraph System (Limestone Technologies Inc.)

Computerized Polygraph System from Limestone Technologies Inc. Limestone Technologies is only one of a number of companies that sells polygraphs and E-meters today.