Why are polygraphs still used in the modern world?


Yet there is an entire industry built up around this pseudoscience, and while it may not be admissable in court employees can be subjected to this.

How has polygraph testing remained in use with no evidence it actually works?

It works better than trust, even if it’s not absolute, more often than not.
At issue is how high the standard of certainty should be; not whether or not it’s usually pretty good.
It’s usually pretty good.

Would it also be acceptable to have a psychic screen employees?

I’d be afraid to submit to one knowing they are not scientific fearing I could lose my job over nothing.

My WAG is that it’s used to intimidate the suspect. The police get a confession and have no need of the actual polygraph results.

Do you have some sort of evidence that psychics are better than trust, even if they are not absolute?

I get the typical distrust of employers by employees, but most employers would be unwilling to lose good employees if a screening test was a total crapshoot.

Polygraphs remain in use because they mostly work.

Fwiw, they’re not used in most of the “modern world”.

That assumes that the employers know that it’s a total crapshoot.

Do you have any evidence that they work any better than chance?

For what it’s worth, Cecil’s column: How accurate are lie-detector tests?

I bet a psychic would make a pretty good interrogator, actually, since many of their cold reading skills probably overlap with interrogation techniques.

It could simply serve as a pretense. If you want to get rid of someone - either in particular or in general (downsizing) - a failed polygraph test could simply be an excuse to do whatever you want.

It’s still in use for the same reason alternative “medicine” is big business. Proof of efficacy is not a criterion, and fantasy reigns.

From what I know (and little I do) most polygraphs results are used more as “this guy needs checking out” as opposed to “he is guilty”.

You don’t get to say “X should be taken on faith” and “Y requires evidence” simply because X is your assertion and Y is the other guy’s.

Casting suspicion without proof seems so McCarthy-ish.

That is the most baffling thing, a “magic” machine determines your fate and you would think this would have gone to a court case by now.

When my business had some cash go missing, I filed a police report. There was a general “feeling” that a particular employee’s son was the likely thief. I casually commented about having everyone submit to a polygraph. I wasn’t serious.

The employee with the son came forward and replaced the cash out of her savings rather than have her son arrested. She also asked that i fire him (he was doing some painting). Whether or not polygraphs work, she thought they did.

…if they actually had to go through with it they could have used this lie detector.

There’s your answer.

I don’t think the intelligence community (a huge user of polygraphs) is concerned about the pseudoscience industry. Wikipedia describes this well:

The polygraph is more often used as a deterrent to espionage rather than detection. One exception to this was the case of Harold James Nicholson, a CIA employee later convicted of spying for Russia. In 1995, Nicholson had undergone his periodic five year reinvestigation where he showed a strong probability of deception on questions regarding relationships with a foreign intelligence unit. This polygraph test later launched an investigation which resulted in his eventual arrest and conviction. In most cases, however, polygraphs are more of a tool to “scare straight” those who would consider espionage. Jonathan Pollard was advised by his Israeli handlers that he was to resign his job from American intelligence if he was ever told he was subject to a polygraph test. Likewise, John Anthony Walker was advised to by his handlers not to engage in espionage until he had been promoted to the highest position for which a polygraph test was not required, to refuse promotion to higher positions for which polygraph tests were required, and to retire when promotion was mandated.[58] As part of his plea bargain agreement for his case of espionage for the Soviet Union, Robert Hanssen would be made to undergo a polygraph at any time as part of damage assessment. In Hanssen’s 25-year career with the FBI, not once was he made to undergo a polygraph. He later said that if he had been ordered to, he may have thought twice about espionage.[citation needed]

The intelligence community uses them (despite their problems) because a) they do do something and b) overall, they aren’t lacking in candidates. Who cares if you get a couple false negatives? There is a line out the door to work for the CIA, NSA, DIA, etc.

The very first word in the OP is “Many”. What’s a “many”? Is 20 people many? 10,000 might certainly be many, but if it’s out of a total population of one billion, it’s not particularly significant.