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In Episode 125, host Chris Hadnagy speaks with William Ortiz, a federal polygraph examiner who worked in the FBI for decades. In this discussion, you’ll learn how the polygraph works, how people try to fool the polygraph, and what agents and attorneys are really after when they receive the results of a polygraph examination. You’ll also hear some tips and tricks about deception that can inform your everyday interactions.
- William Ortiz joined the FBI in 1997. He was first assigned to work violent crimes and major offenders.
- After 9/11 the bureau shifted resources and he was assigned to work in international terrorism.
- He eventually transferred to the Tampa division and began working full-time as a polygraph examiner.
- As agents, they receive a lot of training about how to interview and interrogate. The more you do it, the better you get.
- Some of his best confessions he obtained before he became a polygraph examiner.
- Non-verbals are very important.
- After conducting many interviews, you begin to know what is normal body language for specific demographics.
- When someone comes across as odd based on some of these demographic cues, William sees that as a red flag.
- Polygraph is a tool that can validate whether someone is lying, used alongside non-verbal cues and behavior analysis questions.
- Before he starts the polygraph, William often knows whether someone is lying to him.
- In the FBI, an agent would come to him and tell him the evidence they had. He would read the case, look at the evidence, learn about the individual.
- The first thing William would do when meeting with an individual was to establish rapport. He might spend 1-2 hours getting to know that person and asking behavior analysis questions.
- An honest person would answer hypothetical questions a certain way. Eventually in the course of conversation he would get to the relevant issue.
- Before he starts his polygraph he already has many indicators.
- William admits he has been fooled before. He has had people pass the test when he thought they would fail it, but generally he knows.
- He's looking at what the person is saying and not saying.
- No one can defeat the polygraph. People can defeat the examiner.
- The polygraph is an instrument that is designed to record physiological responses.
- There are multiple sensors. A trained examiner can identify and track normal and abnormal responses.
- When you know someone is lying, at some point you have to confront them.
- Polygraph material is not always admissible in court because of human error.
- Polygraph has improved but when we add the human factor to the process, that's when we become imperfect.
- A polygraph examiner can cause someone who is not lying to fail a test.
- The results of the examination are for the examiner to be convinced of whether the individual is lying to them or not.
- What the agent wants, what the attorney wants is the confession of the crime. As long as that is lawfully obtained, that is evidence.
- A polygraph examiner can tell the jury that someone confessed to a crime and that is evidence.
- The instrument will not record how nervous someone is. Being nervous will not affect the test.
- Even William would become nervous when taking a polygraph test. There's something about the instrument that drives people crazy.
- William lets the examinee know that it is ok to be nervous.
- Not being nervous about taking a polygraph examination is a red flag.
- A lot of people do research online not because they want to defeat the test but because they want to prepare. They often read misinformation.
- William conducts a quick practice test where asks them to lie to him during this test.
- He reminds examinees that if they are not lying to him, they will do fine.
- If an examiner starts a test without letting an examinee calm themselves down, that can cause a false result.
- It's up to the examiner to determine the baseline.
- Some people try to fool the polygraph, especially younger examinees.
- When he sees atypical physiology, William tells the examinee that he sees what they're doing. They typically stop. If they don’t stop, he stops the test and begins the interrogation phase.
- There are different techniques they can use to try to clean the charts and avoid distortions in the physiology.
- Even if you use countermeasures, he'll still see that you're lying.
- How can an everyday person use these baselining skills to enhance their communications?
- It’s easier said than done. People have to first see that they have that ability.
- When we talk, most of the communication that we're conveying is non-verbal.
- If you go to an auto dealership and you're asking a question and the non-verbals do not convey what the person said to you, that's a flag.
- If you think someone is lying to you, they probably are.
- William’s number one tip is to pay attention to the answer. When you ask a question and they answer something unrelated to the question, that’s a red flag.
- Another flag is missing parts of the story.
- If something doesn't make sense, keep asking until it makes sense to you.
- Don't jump to the conclusion that the lack of detail automatically means deception without asking more questions.
- There's not a universal dictionary of body language.
- Crossing arms to you might mean something different to someone else, just like breaking eye contact.
- William recommends reading What Every Body is Saying by Joe Navarro.
3 Key Points:
- Polygraph is a tool alongside non-verbals and behavior analysis questions to determine whether someone is telling the truth.
- Being nervous is part of taking the polygraph test. Being nervous will not affect the test, but helps to establish your baseline.
3. When you ask someone a question, pay attention to whether they answer it. Then ask more questions to see where they lead.
William recommends What Every Body Is Saying by Joe Navarro