Discover The Story of the Polygraph
Discover the story of the Polygraph, the controversial device that transformed modern justice.
9pm Thursday AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: LIE DETECTOR
A look at the polygraph, a device created by two men in the 1920s that could tell if a person was lying, and how it has transformed police work.
In the first decades of the 20th century, when life was being transformed by scientific innovations, researchers made a thrilling new claim: they could tell whether someone was lying by using a machine.
Popularly known as the “lie detector,” the device transformed police work, seized headlines and was extolled in movies, TV and comics as an infallible crime-fighting tool. Husbands and wives tested each other’s fidelity. Corporations routinely tested employees’ honesty and government workers were tested for loyalty and “morals.”
But the promise of the polygraph turned dark, and the lie detector too often became an apparatus of fear and intimidation.