a (mostly) serious attempt at a job search yesterday and the day before eventually derailed when i decided i needed to learn All About Polygraphs. it started earnestly enough—because i live in maryland, all the big employers in the area are government agencies and government contractors, and a lot of even really boring and low-level jobs at a lot of these places apparently require some kind of security clearance. but soon i ended up on an anti-polygraph website and read all about how polygraphs work and how people are screened and interrogated with them—because it was all very creepy and interesting and previously unknown to me. then the website itself started to creep me out and i decided that i needed to have a lively debate with myself as to which was creepier: the polygrapher or the anti-polygrapher.
see, the anti-polygraphers are mostly people who have been rejected from employment with the FBI, CIA, etc., were told that they were rejected because of failing the polygraph, and believe this to be true. and they are shocked and insulted—because they were honest and because the polygrapher was mean to them. which i started to find really truly weird—how could they be surprised that the application process was scary and psychologically destabilizing? i mean, obviously a spying organization has a legitimate reason to see how applicants react to a little torture and interrogation—i would assume T&I would be built into the application process anyway—and then, add to that, the FBI et al. are staffed by people whose actual job it is to be paranoid—i mean, really, who wouldn’t assume that the polygraph test would be bad news? so, yes. in conclusion i find the anti-polygraphers rather culty and creepy and themselves-paranoid—but i have to admit that i find something fundamentally creepy about people who say that working at the FBI et al. was something that they’d always dreamed of doing. and something fundamentally simply weird about people who are angry to learn that polygraph tests are based on deception—when obviously spying is all about deception—and they are applying for work at spying organizations—and many of them are actually applying for work as spies. (also, who can be surprised that these agencies are doing bizarre, counterproductive, and illogical things? haven’t we all read about MK-ULTRA and the FBI trying to blackmail martin luther king into committing suicide, etc.?) though the anti-polygraphers are obviously in the right and obviously the polygraph test is junk as science. and objectively they probably are a sympathetic group. admittedly i am prejudiced against slash perennially baffled by the straight-edge, law-abiding, law-enforcing type—the type of person who really hasn’t ever used illegal drugs! the type of person who really does go around thinking of himself as an especially moral and upright character! (the type of person who very possibly has actually not spent much time sitting around reading wikipedia articles about creepystuff and war crimes…..) it’s an exotic type to me. hence, i suppose, my little fascination with the polygraph-denunciation community.
anyway. i believe i’ve nearly exhausted the topic. and i’m in no personal danger of being polygraphed—i know that if i did apply to work at the FBI et al. i would be rejected well before the polygraph stage. which is kind of a shame, since my exam charts would probably be objectively interesting—since i am not the type of person who goes around thinking of herself as a sterling character, but the opposite—the type with a real tendency toward technical scrupulosity—-i can’t help but think that i’m a person worth polygraphically interrogating. for the sake of science. alas.