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Book Review: Confessions of a Lie Detector by Jim Wygant

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As many, I suppose I have always been enthralled with the science behind the forensics in law. Part of the popularity of CSI, Bones, Crossing Jordan and many of the other shows that fascinate the nation brings to light the men and women behind the scenes finding the ever elusive clues to DNA, different materials, types of drugs and many other factors or evidence that is found at the scene of various crimes.

So popular are these shows that classes for this type of work have also filled up and created more of a glut of knowledgeable experts on the subjects. I am sure in order to popularize a show there must be glamour, and so what we see is not the real crux of the work involved. Murder and crime are a serious business, and it is important to have the right people in place to help evolve the evidence as it comes in.

Yet with all the machines and people, background testing is not always a perfect science. One of those “sciences” is known as the polygraph. In especially high profile cases, we often hear about the lie detector tests, and yet the polygraph is used much more than we know. In Confessions of a Lie Detector by Jim Wygant, we follow Jim though some of his most interesting and important cases. He is quite candid about the system and the difficulties of the assessments. As with any use of equipment, it is only as good as the operator; the same is true of the reading of the charts.

Wygant gives a candid overview of the process and the years of work and detail, he has dealt with as he worked through his many cases. While Wygant stated that there were a few times that he felt actual danger during the process from the person tested, it is gratifying to know that human nature often wins out. Lying is difficult for most people, and, in many of Jim’s cases, it seems as though the guilty were relieved to finally come clean.

From his years in the business, Wygant has given an extremely detailed and interesting look at the people behind the tests as well as the people who take them. To me it was quite fascinating and very much like the forensics that I am often caught up in. If you like forensic science and enjoy reading true-life crime drama, you will enjoy the work behind this book.

It is intriguing and interesting giving us a glimpse into the psyche of many of those accused of theft, murder and sex crimes. We are given the reasoning of why the polygraph cannot be used in court cases, and we are also given to understand that even without this possible permissiveness it is still a standard used in many cases throughout the country.

Wygant writes and fills the pages with interesting and unique information as only an insider can. The polygraph takes a mind to understand the graphs and read the information, and yet many may not follow the set guides, and use varying guidelines. It is both fascinating and absorbing, and if you enjoy the backdrop of forensics, you will enjoy this book.

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About Leslie Wright

Leslie Wright is an author and blogger in the Northwest.