What does Inconclusive mean on a Polygraph Test?

polygraph test

Back in 2012, I wrote up the article below after I listened to Libby Christ a Polygraph Examiner explain about polygraph test.   Even though this story is three years old, it is still pertinent today and I wanted to run the story again for anyone who might have missed it the first time.

“Back in January, 2012, I listened to the “Bring Them Home Now” show on Blog Talk Radio.  The host Rachel Jackson had Libby Christ, a Polygraph Examiner on her show.

The show helped me learn a lot about polygraph tests and actually helped me to understand how someone could fail it.  Click here to read more about that at the bottom half of the Ayla Reynolds article.

First, let me explain that who is giving the test does have an awful lot to do with the outcome of the test.  On the Dr. Phil show when Dr. Phil explained to Mark Redwine that he would have the best examiner give him the test, he wanted to make it clear that if Redwine failed the test it would have nothing to do with the examiner, because there was no doubt that the examiner had years of experience.

During the Blog Talk Radio show, Libby explained what would cause someone to fail a test. She noted that for the best results the person who is taking the test should be only given about 10, yes or no questions.

She also explained that an inconclusive result could be caused by someone that is confused by the question or their is a language confusion, or the testee is on drugs.  (The defense that Hailey Dunn’s mom, Billie Jean used when her’s came back inconclusive-although she failed the second one.)

She also explained another reason results can be inconclusive is if the testee is trying different things to alter the results  like moving too much or putting a tack in their shoe or contracting the anal sphincter, which is considered sabotage.  The examiner would rule the person was being deceptive and therefore inconclusive.  Trained examiners will pick up on deceptions.

“They are very easy to see,” said Libby.

Interestingly, the only 5 to 10 percent of people given a polygraph test are inconclusive, according to Libby.  What is left is you pass or fail.

Remember Mark Redwine said he failed.  He did not say it was considered inconclusive.

Libby said that there are times that people can fail a test, but they will not fail because they are nervous.  An examiner knows how to account for that and are expecting the individual to be nervous.

A reason a person can fail a test, though, is if a question is not controlled and is an open-ended ambiguous question given by the examiner.  For example, if an examiner asked, did you cause your child to go missing.

“The reason they fail it, is because they are thinking, ‘I let the child go outside and play that day, and feel responsible.’  A better question the examiner should have asked is “do you know where that child is now,” said Libby.

Keep the above insights in mind when you are listening to the Dr. Phil show tomorrow.  If Mark takes the test and if he fails….again, with Jack Trimarco, an examiner that is at the top of his field, there is not many more excuses left to defend his innocence.”

The bottom line on all this is when a person states their test was inconclusive, you now know the variables that would have caused that result.  The person was sabotaging the test by being drunk or high or trying to alter the results by doing something physical so that the examiner has no choice but to rule it inconclusive.

The Examiner can be at fault for causing someone to pass or fail a polygraph test.  With the Breanne Rodriguez case in 2011, the parents told Nancy Grace that they failed the polygraph test.  They were totally devastated and confused, and the police and the public were left with the thought they must have harmed their child.  Several days later Shawn Morgan their neighbor across the street was arrested for Breanne’s murder.  We don’t know why Breann’s parents failed exactly, but my thoughts would be because the examiner was not experienced and was probably asking them open-ended ambiguous questions that Libby was talking about.

Next time you hear that someone had an inconclusive polygraph test or even failed the test, you can now use this information to better understand what an inconclusive test is and maybe even pause and question if someone is truly guilty if they fail one.

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Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.

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