While no one plans to be subjected to a lie detector test, the situation does arise for some. The accuracy of polygraph exams has been debated, as a nervous innocent person may fail while a relaxed guilty person may pass. However, if you ever do face off with this machine, one tiny move may help you beat it.
As reported by the Mirror, Doug Williams, who went to polygraph school as part of his police force training, ultimately becoming a certified expert in the exams, began to question the effectiveness of the test.
After years of conducting these exams, he started to believe the “more heinous the crime” the higher change “an innocent will fail.” He related this to the fact that being accused of a serious crime is almost guaranteed to produce stress, regardless if the person is actually guilty.
During an interview with This American Life, Williams stated, “I began to have doubts in the tests after a while, I knew I could control my breathing, but I didn’t know for sure how to control the cardio and the blood pressure.”
“It wasn’t until my friend came in and started talking about the pucker factor and tightening up the anal sphincter muscle when he was under stress.” This led Williams to determine a method for tricking the lie detector: clenching your anus.
Speaking about his discovery, Williams said, “After [my friend] left, I just hooked myself up to the polygraph test… and tightened up my anal sphincter muscle like I was trying to stop my bowel movements and, low and behold, there was the most gigantic, wonderful, naturally occurring cardio rise, accompanying a [galvanic skin response] rise.”
Williams asserts you “can cause a reaction at will” and that the key is to “pick the right time to do it.”
As reported by Bloomberg, Williams made materials available through his website, including an instructional DVD that was available for purchase, and reassured clients that “nervous or not, lying or not, no matter what” it was possible to pass a lie detector. He also offered one-on-one instruction for those who felt the need.
Williams asserts the polygraph machines is an “insidious Orwellian instrument of torture” which is “no more accurate than the toss of a coin.”
His position is at least somewhat supported, as there is a lack of scientific agreement regarding the accuracy of the test. During a 1998 Supreme Court decision, Justice Clarence Thomas addressed the matter, writing, “There is simply no consensus that polygraph evidence is reliable.”
Williams discussion of his discovery ultimately led him to be prosecuted for charges of obstruction of justice and mail fraud for instructing others on how to pass a polygraph exam.