WARNING: This book contains descriptions of sexual assault and harm to children.
Confessions of a Lie Detector is a non-fiction book describing the experiences of the author, a polygraph examiner with over 30 years of experience. It’s an interesting look at a little-known and misunderstood science. Wygant presents cases ranging from petty theft to murder and shows how under the right circumstances, almost anyone can be caught in a lie.
Some of the most interesting parts of the book are not the cases themselves, but Wygant’s own speculation on the nature of lying and why we do it. He describes some of the different types of lies that people frequently tell, and what effect they can have on both the liar and the person being lied to. He shows a lot of compassion for the people who “fail” his tests, which I think allowed him to give a more balanced take of the consequences of lying. One of the first things he tells the reader is that often, when a polygraph test shows a client is probably not being truthful, they are relieved rather than angry. Keeping up with a lie can exact a tremendous toll on the person telling it. He also points out that we are sometimes pressured into lying by loved ones who don’t really want to know the truth.
I did have some trouble with the graphic nature of some of the crimes described, but that’s merely a warning, not a criticism. I do feel that the descriptions given were necessary parts of the book. However, people with sensitivity to certain subjects may find it hard to read. There was also a lengthy chapter describing in detail the investigation into a murder in which polygraph in general and the author in particular didn’t seem to play a particularly important role. It did not fit the general flow of the book and ended up feeling like filler.
My verdict: proceed with caution. There is some interesting information and speculation in this book, but the reader must have a true interest in the subject to stick with it, and some content may be upsetting.
Title: Confessions of a Lie Detector: Years of Sex, Theft, and Murder
Author: Jim Wygant
Genre: Non-Fiction, Science, True Crime
Publication: Lycetta Press, September 1st, 2011
Price: $7.99 (e-book, Kindle only), $13.50 (paperback)
Author’s Website: http://www.jimwygant.com/