As TL mentioned, I passed my fourth polygraph the other day. Frequent readers will garner that TL and I are proponents of the polygraph. I guess I’ve never really written about it addressing cheaters from a cheater’s perspective.
Was I ever afraid to take it? You bet. I was afraid the first time. I was afraid every time. Why? Did I know I was hiding something? No. I told the truth on the polygraph, and always intended to do so. Was I afraid the device might fail? Not really. Was I afraid the polygraph examiner might fail? Yes. I know we’re all capable of errors and we all have varying levels of competence in our jobs. But, the two polygraph examiners I’ve used were very competent and professional.
Of course, I always have fears. I simply have to overcome those fears, each and every time. Going into each exam, I’ve been nervous and scared. I expected the best, but braced myself for the worst. I was especially freaked out by the idea that I might say I didn’t do something, quickly realize I had actually done it but forgotten that fact, and then be labeled a liar for not reporting on the thing I had just remembered. The examiners helped me relax about that, each time. They continuously assure me that the polygraph can only zing me for willfully lying about something I remember, not for inadvertently omitting something I did not remember.
So, what if something still went wrong? What if there’s some small chance of a false positive? I would be shouldering that risk. The flip side of that equation is that if I did not take the polygraph I would be shifting that risk from me to my betrayed spouse. What’s worse: the small risk that I’ll take the test and get a false positive, or the risk that my betrayed spouse will be hounded by doubt forever if I fail to take the test? Even if you think that is an unfair or difficult question, ask yourself who created this predicament in the first place? It wasn’t the betrayed spouse. It wasn’t the polygraph examiner. It’s clearly the cheater who has the moral responsibility of shouldering a tiny bit of risk, hurt pride, inconvenience, and emotional discomfort.
The other reason I overcome my fears and take the test each time is that the potential rewards are great. I can relieve my wife from some doubts and fears. Watching those fears dissipate is a reward in and of itself. I can prove to myself that I am capable of honesty and selflessness. And, perhaps more selfishly, I can prove I’m finally not lying when I say I’m not lying.
I feel an enormous sense of relief after each polygraph, exceeding the sense of dread I feel before each one. I am afraid to take it. I am motivated by the potential rewards of passing it. TL is worth it.