The Polygraph Has Been Lying for 80 Years

Brain Cage

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Eighty years ago, Leonarde Keeler’s lie detector made its debut in court. Decades later, we’re still paying the price for his con job.
Eighty years ago this week, inventor Leonarde Keeler proudly proclaimed hisexpert testimony before a Wisconsin jury to be “a signal victory for those who believe in scientific crime detection.”

One of the creators of the modern-day polygraph, the man named after Leonardo da Vinci by his father in the hopes that he would do similarly great things, had just presented his findings in the case of Cecil Loniello and Tony Grignano, two young men on trial for the attempted murder of a police officer as they fled the scene of a robbery. The judge in the case had sought out the polygraph because of the technology’s showing at the 1933 World’s Fair police exhibit. Both sides had agreed to allow the test—the defendants…

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